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FIGHTING X-RATED BUSINESSES SAVES SIMI FROM BEING L.A.

Byline: Don Schultz

EARLIER this year the city of Simi Valley received an award from the Ventura County District Attorney's Office to honor its being named the safest city in the United States with a population over 100,000.

In a valiant attempt to retain that rating and maintain the quality of life its residents were accustomed to, Simi Valley officials enacted an ordinance restricting adult-oriented businesses within their city limits.

Imagine that, elected officials who are actually more concerned with the safety and quality of life of their residents rather than the obvious financial advantages they probably would derive by having limitless adult-oriented businesses, much like Los Angeles.

This particular issue centers around a recent decision by a U.S. district judge who declared unconstitutional the Simi Valley ordinance to regulate adult entertainment businesses. Can you imagine elected officials feeling so strongly about maintaining their quality of life that they would have the audacity to thwart the efforts of a businessman who has tried for six years to open a nude dancing club in their community, unlike Los Angeles?

In his ruling, the judge stated, ``the ordinance, as it currently exists and as it is currently applied, runs afoul of the First Amendment.''

What I find most disturbing is the judge's interpretation of First Amendment abuse. The First Amendment officially reads: ``Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.''

It does not say that an individual or a minority group of people have the right to trample over the rights of the majority of the people.

I believe it is the judge's interpretation of the First Amendment and his ruling that actually ``runs afoul'' of the 14th Amendment, which serves to protect the rights of classes of people, not just an individual.

As a resident of the city of Los Angeles, I have witnessed the continued and almost daily loss of our quality of life, which can be attributed largely to the onslaught of adult entertainment facilities. But the real culprits in this scenario are our lawmakers, who are too timid (for lack of a better word) to challenge liberal judges and the attorneys who represent smut dealers.

Recently, the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, together with the Department of Zoning Administration, concurred that a particular chain of video stores was conducting adult entertainment operations within 500 feet of a residential zone in violation of the Los Angeles Municipal Code.

The stores appealed the ruling and continue to operate pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed against the city. Had Los Angeles taken an initial step in attempting to ban this type of operation years ago, the city would not be in the position of trying to justify its current action. Limiting the adverse impact that these adult-oriented businesses have on the community is much more difficult once they have been established.

The spirit of Simi Valley officials and residents who are battling to protect their community will be severely tested over the coming months. The lobby for the adult entertainment industry is one that is strong and can well-afford to pay the legal fees necessary to keep the issue alive in the courts.

Adult entertainment businesses in Los Angeles have been the target of one public nuisance abatement action after another. Some of these businesses have been cited for lewd behavior and sexual misconduct. Most of these actions have resulted in mandated conditions, which are designed to either bring an end to the above-mentioned public nuisances or cease the operation of the business as it exists. But then the problem of enforcement raises its ugly head - not uncommon in Los Angeles.

It's far too late, and actually humorous, to even dream that Los Angeles could ever qualify as one of the nation's safest cities. While that is a truly sad commentary, it is not too late for the city of Simi Valley to retain their ``safe city'' rating, as long as they strive to maintain a quality of life that their residents can continue to be proud of.
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Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Sep 11, 1997
Words:709
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