L.A. County to Weigh Condom Ballot Initiative on July 24

Rhett Pardon

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors put off a vote deciding what to do with the porn-condom ballot initiative until July 24.

Questions about the county's legal authority to enforce the proposed rule in 85 cities that contract with the county for public health services were raised today in an agenda item not previously announced on the supervisors' website.

One supervisor, Gloria Molina, asked the question whether the county could force the cities within to enforce the rule.

Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Don Knabe said they were prepared to vote to put the measure on the November ballot, but not until after questions about the jurisdiction is answered.

Yaroslavsky, skeptical about the county's ability to regulate porn shoots, added: "Most of this industry is underground. They don't apply for permits."

Inspectors won't "be able to find every garage in the county of Los Angeles where the filming takes place," he said.

"Having said that, signatures have been gathered and the county registrar certified it and I do believe that the voters have a right to vote on this," Yaroslavsky said. "But I do think that there's going to have to be a lot of work done … to create a path forward for credible enforcement of the law."

The question on jurisdictional issues will be taken up by county counsel in time for the July 24 vote among the supervisors. Supervisors could allow the ballot measure or inact it immediately on that date.

At the meeting, Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, spoke and urged county leaders to "recognize the will of the people."  

The initiative, certified for ballot last week, would require adult film producers to pay a fee and obtain a permit from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Performers would be mandated to use condoms for acts of anal and vaginal sex.

L.A. County officials would have the authority to suspend or revoke the permit for violations, and could follow up with $1,000 civil fines or misdemeanor criminal charges.

The ballot measure would mandate porn movie producers to get health permits, just as owners of tattoo parlors, massage parlors and bathhouses do.  

The requirement would apply to shoots in unincorporated areas of the county and 85 of its 88 cities, including the city of Los Angeles.

Los Angeles County covers some 4,000 square miles and is home to over a quarter of all California residents, including the city of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, also known as Porn Valley.

The city of Los Angeles already has a porn condom ordinance, but it continues to be sidelined until the first week of September at the earliest because city leaders haven't yet drawn up formal plans to implement the law.