L.A. Council seeks to curb new adult businesses in parts of Valley

New restrictions on San Fernando Valley strip clubs, massage parlors being drafted

New strip clubs, massage parlors and other “adult entertainment” will be temporarily barred from getting city permits along four streets in Sun Valley and Van Nuys, under new rules that the Los Angeles City Council voted to draft Tuesday. The restrictions would also curb new liquor stores, hotels and motels. 

Councilwoman Nury Martinez argues that the restrictions will help crack down on prostitution in her San Fernando Valley district. She contends the businesses being restricted attract pimps and "the vice activities feed on each other." The proposal would not affect existing businesses in the area.

Sun Valley Area Neighborhood Council member Mike O'Gara urged City Council members to approve the restrictions, calling them "very necessary in this area" in light of its "huge rate of prostitution." 

The Los Angeles Assn. of Club Executives, which represents roughly 30 adult clubs, said it isn't opposing the restrictions.

But Encino attorney Allan Gelbard challenged the thinking behind Martinez's proposal. "It's an unhealthy conflation between illegal sex trades and adult businesses which are legal and run responsibly and professionally," said Gelbard, who represents clients in the adult entertainment industry. "If there's a strip club that has a high incidence of prostitution in it, then the laws are in place to shut it down."

Some business groups also have raised concerns about the proposed restrictions. The California Beverage Retailers Assn. questioned why liquor stores were lumped in with topless bars and strip clubs. Nancy Hoffman Vanyek, chief executive of the Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce, asked if "positive businesses" such as the Massage Envy franchise might be blocked from opening.

The City Council voted unanimously to draft the new rules. The targeted streets include parts of Lankershim Boulevard and San Fernando Road in Sun Valley and stretches of Sepulveda Boulevard and Oxnard Street in Van Nuys. Before the vote, Martinez amended her original proposal to extend it to Oxnard Street and to include hotels and motels.

City staff members will prepare an ordinance for final consideration by the council. If approved, the restrictions would initially last 45 days and could be extended up to two years. Temporary rules would give the city time to judge whether the restrictions reduced crime, Martinez said.

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