Industry Advocates Question L.A. Condom Ordinance at City Hall

Nelson Ayala

LOS ANGELES — The Adult Film Industry Working Group, a panel put together by the Los Angeles City Council to implement the city’s mandatory condom ordinance, met for a second time on Wednesday to review a 10-page draft of recommendations to the mayor and City Council.

The meeting, held for one hour at the 15th Floor Conference Room at City Hall, began with City Administrative Officer Miguel A. Santana asking Film LA President Paul Audley and Vice President of Communications & Public Affairs Todd Lindgren to describe the process by which adult content producers are identified and whether there is concern over First Amendment rights violations once a producer discloses that they will be shooting adult content.

Film LA, a private, non-profit organization that coordinates and processes permits for on-location productions in Los Angeles, made it known that, aside from producers voluntarily disclosing the content of their movies, there is no system in place that would make the city privy to that content. As for First Amendment concerns, the group fielded the issue to the City Attorney’s office.

City Attorney counsel Kimberly Miera said that asking producers what they were going to shoot is not a First Amendment violation, but that any discrimination suffered after disclosure “might be seen as such,” adding that each case would be “fact specific” and that the City “doesn’t generally discriminate or retaliate against someone based on content. That said, pornography is not protected by First Amendment speech.”

Attorney and Free Speech Coalition chairman Jeffrey Douglas was quick to correct the City Attorney’s office once the floor was opened to those in attendance, stating that, “I believe the City Attorney representative misspoke when she said that pornography is not protected by the First Amendment; obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment.

 “Pornography is fully and completely protected by the First Amendment. If you want a list of cases, there’s about 2000 of them from every court in the United States, starting with the United States Supreme Court and down.”

 Douglas went on to criticize the city for attempting to regulate an industry while excluding it from the process, noting that allotting industry members just three minutes to speak for themselves during meetings was not enough.

 “The notion that a formal working group was established to regulate an industry without formal participation from that industry is shortsighted,” Douglas said. “Being allowed to speak for three minutes does not equate, by any means, to the participation of the other groups. The most certain way to generate ineffectual regulation is not to engage in real dialogue with the industry you regulate, no matter how detested or socially unattractive an industry is. The fact that we were not invited from the get-go is regrettable.”

 Ironically, Douglas was cut short at the three-minute mark, but assured that he could contact the CAO office to set up a meeting for future discussion.

 Industry attorney and XBIZ contributor Michael Fattorosi used his three minutes to address the enforcement aspects of the ordinance.

 “What if the producer happens to be an entity that is outside the jurisdiction of Los Angeles?” he questioned. “This is now a global business; this isn’t a Los Angeles business any more. There are producers that live in Europe, Canada, outside the state of California, and they are the actual people who finance these films.

 “Are those the producers who are going to be charged under this law or are we going to go after the worker who is a hired for-the-day performer or for-the-day director? Same thing for the owners of the filming location. Are we going to be confiscating equipment? Are we holding that equipment until the first hearing date? Are you going to be holding equipment of an employee? Are you going to be holding the equipment of the producer?”

 “These are all issues that this law has with actual on-the-street enforcement that need to be addressed and resolved before you can even think about putting this measure in place,” Fattorosi  continued. “I think what you’ll end up doing is netting a lot of innocent people that don’t have a lot of control over their working environment. I don’t know if LAPD or the city is going to look at extraditing producers from overseas into the California court where there’s no jurisdiction, but it’s a question that I have to raise.”

 Santana closed the meeting by noting points that would be addressed at the next meeting: First Amendment issues, associated cost with identifying permit seekers interested in producing adult films and an attachment from Cal-OSHA, which was not present.

A third meeting is set for early May before the group must submit to counsel.