Texas Study to Focus on Impact of Adult Businesses

Anne Winter
AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas City Attorneys Association is asking cities throughout the state to contribute toward a $100,000 study that would focus on the impact adult stores have on communities.

The association, affiliated with the Texas Municipal League, has proposed each city donate 3 cents per capita, with a $10,000 cap.

"These studies, once they're done, will have usefulness in more than one state," said Bennett Sandlin, general counsel for the Texas City Attorneys Association.

Six cities, including Arlington, Frisco and Kennedale, have so far contributed to the study, and Kennedale city attorney Wayne Olson said several others are considering joining in.

This study could ultimately affect the way cities handle sex-related business regulations, as it is the first to focus solely on adult stores, rather than topless bars and strip clubs.

A 1984 Indianapolis study found adult businesses increased crime by 23 percent and sex crimes by 20 percent, and that homes in the areas where the businesses operate appreciate by half the rate of homes in other areas.

This study could help to either confirm or rebuke these findings.

However, Diane Duke, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, said studies like these are often flawed. She said adult businesses often have less crime than those that cater to adults, such as bars, and are often targeted unfairly with government regulation.

"Sexually oriented businesses are held to higher standards than other businesses," Duke said, "and they often meet or exceed those standards."

Experts conducting the study are still convinced that past studies have already proven the negative effects of sexually oriented businesses.

"Study after study, going back almost 40 years, shows that when an adult business opens, crime rises for a block or two blocks around that business," said Dr. Richard McCleary, a professor at the University of California-Irvine who is one of the three experts working on the Texas study.

Despite his initial opinion, McCleary said he is approaching the study objectively, as a researcher and academic.