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Thursday, April 13, 2006

For Once, I Agree with the NIMBYs

Posted by on April 13 at 14:00 PM

Strip clubs should not be concentrated into a single area.

Last night, dozens of speakers lined up to lambaste a proposal by Mayor Greg Nickels that would create a red-light district, of sorts, in narrow swath of the Duwamish industrial area bordering Georgetown and SoDo. The mayor proposed the strip-club zone after a court decision that ruled a 17-year-old “moratorium” on new strip clubs in Seattle unconstitutional, opening the door for new clubs to open in commercial areas across the city. (To date, not one new strip-club permit has been filed.) The mayor ostensibly chose the area because it’s far away from churches, schools, day cares, and single-family neighborhoods—the type of areas where the city has decided strip clubs would be inappropriate. (Georgetown residents have a different perspective, noting that in recent months, the city and county have located sex-offender housing and a new transfer station for the city’s garbage near their neighborhood.)

What surprised me about last night’s hearing was not so much the unanimity of the speakers’ opposition—it’s no big secret that no one wants strip clubs in their neighborhood—but their willingness to accept some strip clubs as long as they’re dispersed throughout the city. Speakers from Beacon Hill, Lake City, South Park, and Georgetown expressed dismay that the city would dump yet another “blight” on South Seattle (that’s debatable—city crime statistics have shown no solid correlation between strip clubs and crime), and agreed that a proposal that kept them 1,000 feet from churches, schools and daycares citywide would be the “fair and equitable” thing to do. “There is a faint whiff of classism in putting something we would rather not deal with in a neighborhood that isn’t ours,” one speaker said. Another, George Robertson, went further, arguing that it makes little sense for the city to ban strip clubs near churches and schools if it doesn’t ban “other harms we visit on churches and schools,” like major arterial roads and freeways.

In the past two days, both daily papers have said that planning committee chairman Peter Steinbrueck does not plan to consider alternatives to the mayor’s proposal. However, at the end of last night’s hearing, Steinbrueck asked for a show of hands: How many people would accept a dispersement approach, in which strip clubs can be located throughout the city? At least three-quarters of those in the packed council chambers raised their hands. Then Steinbrueck asked another question: How many would accept dispersement if it meant one or more strip clubs in their neighborhood? After some hesitation, nearly everyone raised their hands again. After the hearing, Steinbrueck said it was “fascinating” to see so much support for a citywide approach, adding that he’d take “a serious look” at such a proposal. “This is by no means a done deal,” he said last night. Let’s hope not.

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Umm...yeah....lets actually see what people say when a strip club is going into their hood. Nice try though.

I don't care what neighborhood it's in (although I may root for it if it's in Laurelhurst)--I think that centralizing strip clubs in 1 area is a bad idea. I'd like to see some studies on the two different approaches, but it makes me think of "the block" in Baltimore, which is just not a successful implementation of centralized stripping.

ECB--I think you're construing the definition of "blight" a little narrowly. I don't think blight should just be measured by crime statistics.

well, we here in Fremont aren't thanking you for that. because of your crackdowns on homeless people drinking, downtown and capitol hill, they've all moved to Fremont and Ballard.

same goes for nude dance clubs. I don't want to see them, just the usual biker bars I grew up with ... um, say, where did they go?

I like the idea of spreading them around, but you can better your $5 latte they aren't about to put them anywhere near the richer/whiter neighborhoods.

But, why not neighborhoods with a healthy bar scene?

Places like Ballard, Capitol Hill, Fremont and Greenwood could use a strip club or two to make things even more interesting.

I think the strip club zone is a red herring. It's real purpose is to drive down the property values so Paul Allen can snap up the land and extend his empire south on its way to the Boeing Field improvements that he also wants from taxpayers.

Sort of like the South Lake Union streetcar that will be worthless to 90% of the city, but will serve to drive out the small SLU landowners who can't afford the extra taxes (not that Allen will ever pay his share either).

What a bunch of pious little dorks we are in this town. Every other person you run into loves to babble about Amsterdam and/or New York, but when we try to do something grown up - something both those cities allow - our bluestockings show. EEK! SEX!

Easy solution: Lift the stupid, priggish moritorium on strip clubs. Lift the ridiculous rules about lighting, distance and booze. Let people open a strip club whereever they can open a bar, and let them serve cocktails.

What will happen? Nothing. The world will not end. Women will not be subjugated. Rape will not increase. Our children will not be corrupted.

And while were at it, close the state liquor stores and let the grocery stores sell booze, and let them sell it on Sunday. Let's just grow up and stop this puritanical crap.

Right on, Catalina. I couldn't agree more. The city is obsessed with micro-managing what they're going to "allow". But it shouldn't be any of their business. It's not a zoning decision; strip clubs are not by definition nuisances They're only nuisances if you have a frankly perverse interest in what your neighbors are getting up to.

But state liquor stores sure are a nuisance. Heck, I'd gladly pay more tax on booze if I could buy what I wanted where I wanted to.

Here, here! I like those ideas. But then we're too assume Seattle could ever actually complete something, instead of arguing and niggling every little aspect of it for the next 15 years.

*Applauds Catalina*

Liquor should be sold in groceries and specialty stores allowing each to stock what they wish; not what the state decides to stock. Strip clubs should be licensed like any other business with a bar. The state says it's addicted to the money from the stores, but they could easily collect the money in other ways. Nickles is just trying to stall the strip club out for another dozen years while scoring cheap political points using Republican party rhetoric. I expect Nickles to fight us on the clubs as the state tries ever so desperately to move towards the free liquor market.

I like the whole 'spreading' metaphor in this context. And seriously, does anyoen think capitol hill wouldn't welcome a strip club or three?

Dan Savage should support the industry that pays his salary....Let's have a strip joint next to his home.

No noise ordinance because that's unfair.

Make it two joints since he likes density.

And no parking so everybody is not hurting the environment.

I enthusiastically endorse the idea of strip clubs in Ballard--but only if we also get to have cocktails, low lighting, and an adjacent, old-world smoking lounge. I suppose that would quickly empty my bank account, but it would almost be worth it.

More hand clapping for catalina:)

I agree with many of you that the zone seems like a "classist" attempt to push an alleged blight down the throats of people perceived to be of less political power and less value as opposed to the wealthier and whiter north seattle neighborhoods.

Allowing for dispersal of the strip clubs throughout the city would be the most fair solution with the caveat of keeping them a certain distance from schools and churches if only to satisfy the neighborhood fuddy duddies.

the interesting thing about this whole vice district idea is that it goes hand in hand with the city-sponsored gentrification of first ave over the last 30 years. first ave/ pioneer square was the city's historic vice district.

but developers and city government types couldn't get rid of the demand for strip clubs, just as they couldn't get rid of the people whose housing they demolished or gentrified. when you get into the business of totally prohibiting things that already exist and won't go away (like prostitution/ sex industry, drugs, and, and ultimately homeless people), it usually just ends up being a rationalization for micro managing people's lives in really insidious ways. only by defining other people or activities as "blight", and then punishing/ managing blight, can we pretend that places like madison park are ideal and normal instead of elitist and artificial.

What about they try confining all the sex-work businesses into a covered strip mall with escort service offices on top and a neighborhood Kinko's out front?

Concentrating all of the strip clubs in one area is such a spectacularly dumb idea it is amazing. Strip clubs aren't that bad unless they are concentrated. Most cities have gone the opposite direction.

The city should simply pass a 1000 foot rule from schools, day cares, and churches. This allows them precious few spots zoned commercial in the city, mostly industrial or heavy retail. As for priggish Northenders who don't want them in their neighborhood--don't worry so much, real estate is expensive up there...

Props Catalina. But I don't buy the idea that a sex ghetto would wreck Georgetown. What happens to a party neighborhood with low rents after a few years? Ask any artist looking to rent a studio on Capital Hill or in Pioneer Square.

No special zoning rules for strip clubs. That's dumb. Just make it so that any place with a liquour license (which automatically precludes minors) can have strippers. There's already all sorts of regulations about where bars can be, including rules about proximity to schools and churches.

Please note: NOT ALL BARS WILL BECOME STRIP CLUBS. Only a handful will. It's just like gay bars, piano bars, sports bars, etc, etc, etc. As much as I hate to sound like a Republican, let the market do it's work.

Let's surrender our fear of the beavers and the boobies. (or the peepees and manbutts, for that matter)

Seattle was founded by scammers looking for a quick buck, and was sustained for many years by revenue from prostitutes. Why deny our heritage of robust vice?

And one other thing (sorry, I'm on a roll) Why the exemption for churches? As it stands now, any idiot with a "degree" in divinity can rent out a storefront, and Presto! Instant blight on the neighborhood, and one less building for the tax rolls. They're already leeching off us, why do we have to be concerned about their sensibilities?

I propose a 1000-foot rule for strip clubs. No strip club can be within a thousand feet of another strip club.

Catalina- You are me hero!!!

Why should there be a 1000' buffer around churches? What happened to separation of church and state?

paige - the danger is scaringor otherwise arousing the kids on the way to sunday school.

you are right, what the hell, give the pastors easier accesss to their fantasies.

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