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March 05, 2001 09:42am
Supreme Court to Decide Adult Business Case
Source: Reuters

(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Supreme Court (news - web sites) said on Monday it will decide whether a zoning ordinance that bars operation of more than one adult entertainment business at a single location violates constitutional free-speech rights.

The high court agreed to hear an appeal by Los Angeles defending its ordinance prohibiting the operation of adult businesses that both sell adult products and contain facilities to view adult movies or videos.

A federal judge in California and a U.S. appeals court said the ordinance violated free-speech rights because the city had failed to study and provide adequate evidence of negative effects from the combinations, such as an adult bookstore with an adult arcade, in the same location.

The justices will hear arguments in the case, in which more than 100 California cities supported the Los Angeles appeal, and then will issue its decision during its term that begins in October.

The case involved Alameda Books Inc. and Highland Books Inc., two adult businesses that rent and sell sexually oriented products, including videotapes. They both provide booths where customers can view videotapes for a fee.

In 1995, a city building inspector found that Alameda was operating both as an adult bookstore and arcade in the same building in violation of the 1983 zoning ordinance.

The two businesses then joined together, asking a federal judge to prevent enforcement of the ordinance on First Amendment grounds. The judge agreed, and the appeals court also ruled against Los Angeles.

The city in 1978 adopted an ordinance that prohibits the establishment of an adult business within 1,000 feet (305 meters) of another such business or within 500 feet (152 meters) of a religious institution, school or public park.

The regulations followed a comprehensive study that found a connection between concentrations of adult businesses and increases in crimes, such as prostitution, robberies and assaults.

The city amended the ordinance in 1983 to prohibit so-called ``multiple use'' adult businesses, but did not document the harm from such combinations, relying instead on laws from other jurisdictions.

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