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Should cities create adult club zones?
19/02/2009 - By floridasea.org

Should cities create adult club zones?
Should cities create strip club zones?

Should cities create strip club zones?

Seeing a strip club in his neighborhood -- from the outside -- is enough to upset Michael Less. "I think it sleezes it up a little bit," said the owner of the DeWolky Shop in south Salem. "We still get comments from our customers - what do you think?

Seeing a strip club in his neighborhood -- from the outside -- is enough to upset Michael Less.

"I think it sleezes it up a little bit," said the owner of the DeWolky Shop in south Salem. "We still get comments from our customers - what do you think about the strip club across the street?"

Less is one of the business owners and community members around the state who have fought to keep strip clubs out of their neighborhoods.

"I think every business has a place," Less said, but "these types of businesses especially - they don't belong in neighborhoods."

A similar fight in downtown Springfield pit the city against the owner of Shakers Bar and Grill, who wanted to re-open his club in a vacant storefront on Main Street after his lease ran out at a location off Main Street.

Some residents protested, and the club was denied a liquor license by the state. The owner has appealed that ruling.

"We're improving the downtown area,"said Democratic state Sen. Bill Morrisette of Springfield, "but this one element in the downtown area makes it difficult."

He wants to give local governments the power to create special land use zoning for strip clubs, just like cities can regulate residential zoning for houses or apartments, industrial land or commercial uses.

"I think there would be a lot of support," he said.

However, since strip clubs are protected as free speech by Oregon's constitution, voters have to pass this law.

"If the voters understand it is not outlawing them outright, it just gives the jurisdiction some choices to make," Morrisette said. "I think it's likely to pass."

Oregonians narrowly voted down similar measures in 1994, 1996 and 2000.

"Oregonians have been asked numerous times," said Andrea Meyer, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union, "and they don't want the government telling them what they can read, see and hear."

Jim harrison is a DJ at Hard Candy, a Salem strip club.

"When do we get to be a business and have the same rights as everybody else to make a living?" he asked.

Zoning strip clubs, the argument goes, is a slippery slope.

"I don't want a McDonald's near schools," Harrison said, "so do we get rid of McDonald's now?"

The legislation to refer the issue to voters is just starting to make its way through the legislative process and faces hearings and a vote in both the House and Senate before voters would have a chance to weigh in.