Olympia tweaks adult entertainment code in response to strip club

OlympianFebruary 26, 2014 

Desire Video is located at 3200 Pacific Avenue near an exit for I-5.

OLYMPIAN FILE PHOTO

Olympia will tuck a few more dollars under its belt after revising city code in response to a future strip club.

The Olympia City Council passed an “emergency” amendment late Tuesday that will raise the cost of applications for owners, managers and entertainers at adult-oriented businesses.

Desire Video at 3200 Pacific Avenue has applied for a permit to open the city’s first strip club. The proposal has attracted hundreds of job hunters along with concerns about illegal activity and the overall perception of such businesses.

Earlier this month, city staff launched a review of the original adult entertainment ordinance, which was enacted in 1997. City officials acknowledged that restrictions are difficult because strip clubs and nude dancing are protected forms of free speech.

With Desire’s application in waiting, the council voted unanimously Tuesday to bypass the public process and enact the new rules immediately.

The revised code creates an initial $2,400 application fee for new adult businesses, and raises the annual license renewal from $500 to $750. Managers and entertainers – such as male and female strippers – will be charged $150 for a license, which is an increase of $50.

Council members requested the higher fees to compensate for inflation and any additional demands on staff time to process the applications.

In addition to listing any nicknames or “stage names,” the code also requires applicants to pay fees for criminal background checks. Managers must submit fingerprints to the police department, and all applicants can face perjury over false information.

The revised code extends the city’s review time of applicants from 14 to 30 days, and directs the hearing examiner to handle appeals. The city can deny applicants who have past felony convictions related to adult-oriented businesses. The code now specifies convictions for controlled substances and human trafficking.

Rose Gundersen, executive director of Washington Engage, said there are strong ties between the strip club industry, human trafficking and prostitution. On Feb. 11, she urged the city council to revise the adult entertainment ordinance.

“I’m not here to limit anyone’s First Amendment right,” Gundersen said during public comment. “These businesses are hotbeds of human trafficking.”

Desire owner Levi Bussanich told The Olympian that he expects to hire 20 to 25 full-time employees, along with 150 to 200 dancers who work on rotation as independent contractors.

Bussanich has operated Desire at his current building since 2001. He has been upgrading the building to comply with city and fire codes for the property’s new use. No alcohol will be served at the proposed club. The business would also meet proper distance requirements from schools and residences, according to city planners.

Andy Hobbs: 360-704-6869 or ahobbs@theolympian.com

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