A few months ago, I wrote about uncharacteristic examples of good sense by the city governments of Yakima, Washington and North Platte, Nebraska. Both cities had seemingly dropped attempts to enact ordinances to restrict existing and new adult novelty retailers. Well, I spoke too soon.
Yakima has apparently brought the idea up again, although they are at least planning to grandfather existing businesses. Grandfathering is not a perfect solution, however, because it will probably have adverse effects on the abilities of those business to expand or transfer their ownership.
North Platte has recently passed its law. The North Platte situation seems more serious because it apparently wouldn’t make any exceptions for existing businesses, and the restrictions on being within 1,000 feet of a residence could directly affect one family’s home-based business.
Litigation is likely to ensue, so I’m offering my free and completely unsolicited advice to both sides.
For business owners:
- Make sure that your lawyer has read all of the briefings in the Doctor John’s v. City of Roy, Utah and that your lawyer does a better job than Doctor John’s lawyers did.
- If your business has been open for some time and has a history, do everything you can to keep the city from relying on studies of businesses in other cities. The secondary effects of your business of your city can be scientifically measured. It doesn’t make any sense to rely on studies of other businesses located somewhere else
- Hire a good expert early. Yes, they are expensive. But losing your case is even more expensive.
For the city council members
Think about this carefully. Do you really want to go through long hours of depositions and expend tens of thousands of the city’s already inadequate funds to appease a few people who believe that sexy lingerie and vibrators are going to corrupt their children? They have no facts or credible studies on their side, while the businesses that you are trying to get rid of have an established history of not causing problems, boosting the local economy, and helping some of your citizens support their families.
Even if you win this litigation, your town will lose.
Oh, and read Dr. Marty Klein’s book America’s War on Sex. It will really make you wonder why you ever thought these ordinances were a good idea.