New Strip Club Ordinance
City Council Changes the Rules
September 16, 2003
The Los Angeles City Council today unanimously passed a new ordinance,
13-0, that places significant new restrictions and regulations on
the City's Adult Entertainment "Strip Club" industry.
Grassroots community activists have pressed for these changes, which
took many months to come about and required, among others, the participation
of the Police Commission, the LAPD itself, City Council's Public
Safety and Planning & Land Use Management Committees, and the City
Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski spearheaded the efforts which are
designed to eliminate some of the most overt expressions of sexuality,
such as so called lap dances, at these "Gentleman's Clubs,"
as well as to guard against criminal activities such as prostitution
and drug sales.
In addition community members from a number of neighborhoods see
these businesses as detrimental to the quality of life, and have
approached the problem from a variety of angles including zoning
and land use restrictions.
Among the new regulations are rules that tighten up the requirements
for getting and maintaining a permit for such establishments. Others
changes restrict the proximity of a dancer to a patron and still
others require interior and exterior building codes.
Some highlights include:
A section of the new ordinance provides penalties for intentional
physical contact between an entertainer and patron, sexual physical
contact between employees and patrons, the sale or distribution
of sexually oriented merchandise and the direct payment of tips
Live entertainment must occur on a stage at least 18 inches in height
and separated at least six feet from patrons with fixed rails at
least 30 inches high. Entertainers and patrons may not come within
six feet of each other. Partitions of any kind are prohibited in
areas where patrons have access, except in restrooms.
Clubs will be required to have separate dressing rooms, entrance/exit
for entertainers, sufficient lighting (not less than two foot-candles),
and separate restrooms for males and females. They'll have to comply
with strict signage, parking, design standards. Employees will have
to carry government issued identification and a manager will have
to be on the premises.
While the entire ordinance runs 30 pages long, too long for this
article, the document below was presented on behalf of the City
Attorney, Rocky Delgadillo, and represents a synopsis of the pertinent
points and changes in the law.
It was provided as an overview to the City Council.
"Section A" is a history of the ordinance, and "Section
B" details the changes to the current law.
OFFICE OF THE CITY ATTORNEY
PROVISIONS RELATING TO POLICE PERMITS,
ADULT BUSINESSES, AND CIVIL ENFORCEMENT REMEDIES
The Honorable City Council of
the City Los Angeles
Room 395, City Hall
200 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
(Council File No.99-0185)
We are transmitting for your consideration, a draft of an
ordinance, approved as to form and legality, which makes major
revisions to the police permitting procedures to meet current
legal requirements. The ordinance particularly addresses changes
to regulations relating to adult entertainment and provides
for enhanced civil enforcement and penalties for violating
any provision of the Municipal Code as a public nuisance.
The changes are detailed in Section B below.
This matter was considered by your Public Safety Committee
on March 17, 2003, and approved. The Committee instructed
that the draft ordinance be revised to address some technical
issues raised by the Police Commission. The draft ordinance
was considered by the Police Commission at its meetings of
April 15 and 22, 2003. The Commission recommended that a provision
for a state licensed security guard be included in Section
103.102.1, additional regulations for businesses providing
live entertainment. This additional regulation appears as
Subdivision (x) of Section 103.102.1. This matter was again
considered by your Public Safety Committee on June 9, 2003.
At that time the Committee approved the ordinance with two
amendments. The first was that a provision for a state licensed
security guard be included in Section 103.101.1(c), additional
regulations for an adult picture arcade. This additional regulation
appears as Subsection (7) of Section 103.101.1 (c). Second,
it was requested that a provision for an interior floor plan
be required for a businesses providing live entertainment.
This additional regulation appears as Subdivision (z) of Section
A. BACKGROUND -COUNCIL MOTION AND TOPANGA PRESS LITIGATION
On February 2, 1999, the City Council requested that the City
Attorney review ordinances in Kent, Washington and Newport
Beach dealing with "nude juice bars" and report to the Public
Safety Committee about the feasibility of combining the provisions
of these ordinances into an ordinance for consideration by
the City Council. The City Council expressed concern about
the serious secondary effects generated by "nude juice bars"
as well as the concomitant drain on police resources. The
motion noted that ordinances in Kent, Washington and Newport
Beach designed to mitigate the negative effects of "nude juice
bars" had recently survived legal challenges.
In reviewing the Council's instructions and the administrative
provisions that would control the proposed ordinance, this
Office concluded that there were portions of the police permit
scheme that needed to be updated. These types of revisions
are necessary in order to comport with changes in case law,
which is in a constant state of flux because of constitutional
Additionally, this Office determined that this was an optimum
time to also incorporate changes to City ordinances that were
necessitated by the Topanga Press litigation. By way of background,
between 1989 and 1991, 16 adult businesses filed suit in federal
court (Topanga Press litigation) against the City, challenging
the City's zoning ordinance that regulated adult businesses
(Los Angeles Municipal Code Section 12.70.) and the City's
permitting ordinance regulating entertainment and picture
arcade businesses (Sections 103.102 and 103.101). Various
provisions relating to the application process were also challenged.
The Section 12.70 litigation was severed and the challenge
to police permit regulations resulted in a stipulated consent
decree and settlement agreement between the City and the 16
defendants in 1991. As part of that agreement, the City agreed
(as to the Topanga Press plaintiffs) to not enforce certain
code sections dealing with police permits until those sections
The ordinance presented to City Council addresses the issue
of nude juice bars and makes comprehensive changes to the
police permit administrative provisions in order to bring
those sections up to date and also to address the Topanga
Press litigation. In drafting the ordinance, this Office has
also considered the experiences of other cities, including
those referenced by the Council, as well as relevant case
NOTE: All references are to the Los Angeles Municipal Code,
unless otherwise indicated.
B. SUMMARY OF ORDINANCE
The changes made to the Los Angeles Municipal Code are summarized
1. Section 11.00(1), (n) and (0). (General Provision.)
Subdivision (I) is amended to specifically provide that any
violation of the Code may be abated as a public nuisance by
means of a restraining order, injunction or any other order
or judgment in law or equity. A civil penalty of $2500 is
added for each offense. Subdivisions (n) and (0) are added
to permit the City to summarily abate nuisances and the cost
of such abatement can be made a lien against the property
and for enhanced civil penalties for subsequent abatement
2. Section 41.60. Adult Live Entertainment. A new section
is added, providing penalties for the following conduct in
an adult or sexually oriented business.
physical contact between an entertainer and patron
physical contact between employees and patrons
distribution of sexually oriented merchandise
payment of tips to entertainers
3. Section 103.01. Definitions.
New definitions are added for: Business, Director of Finance,
Employee, Entertainer, Manager, Owner, Patron, Premises, Sexually
oriented material, Sexually oriented merchandise, Specified
anatomical parts and Specified sexual activities.
4. Section 103.02. Permit Required. The language has
been revised to state that no person may carry on any business
for which a permit is required without obtaining a permit
from the Board of Police Commissioners ("Board").
5. Section 103.02.1. Permit Applications. This is a new
section which sets out the requirements of an application,
changes to application information, confidentiality of application
information and the duty to submit a complete application.
It also delineates time lines for filing complete applications.
6. Section 103.06. Permits - Duration. This section is
amended to state that permits are valid for one year.
7. Section 103.06.1. Permits - Renewal. This is a new
section that requires permits to be renewed annually and sets
out certain changed circumstances that require a new permit.
8. Section 103.06.2. Temporary Permits. This is a new
section that permits the Board to issue a temporary permit
pending its decision on a permit application.
9. Section 103.08. Permits Non-Transferable. This section
is amended to provide that permits are not transferable. It
also clarifies the circumstances in which legal entities must
obtain new permits.
10. Section 103.09. Permit for Each Location. This
section has been reworded to state that a permit is only valid
for the address or location specified on the permit.
11. Section 103.21. Change in Owner Information. This
section has been amended to clarify the types of changes in
owner information that must be reported to the Board.
12. Section 103.29. Board Action on Application. This
section has been amended to state that the Board shall issue
a permit for a picture arcade, cafe entertainment and shows,
or motion picture show within 45 calendar days of receipt
of a complete application if all requirements have been met
and within 90 days for all other permit applications. These
time periods are extended by 15 calendar days if a hearing
is requested and may be extended by mutual agreement of the
applicant and the Board. This section also provides that the
Board shall deny applications upon the grounds stated in Section
13. Section 103.30. Effect of Granting Permit. This
section has been revised to indicate that the granting of
a permit does not absolve the permittee from complying with
other laws nor does it vest any development rights.
14. Section 103.31. Denial of Application. This section
regarding denial of the application has been amended to differentiate
the grounds for denial for permits issued under Sections 103.101.1
(picture arcade) 103.102 ( cafe entertainment and shows) and
103.109 (movie theaters) from all other permits.
15. Section 103.31.1. Final Decisions. This section
has been added to indicate that Board action is final upon
the mailing of a copy of the Board action.
16. Section 103.31.2. Effective Date of Notices. This
new section states that all notices shall be deemed to have
been given upon the date they are deposited in the United
States mail or personally delivered.
17. Section 103.34. Suspension or Revocation of Permits.
This section dealing with suspension and revocation of permits
has been amended to apply to all permits except those issued
under Sections 103.101.1, 103.102 and 103.109.
18. Section 103.34.1. Suspension or Revocation of Permits.
This new section delineates the circumstances in which a Board
may suspend or revoke permits issued pursuant to Sections
103.101.1, 103.102 and 103.109.
19. Section 103. 101. Picture Arcade. This existing
section is reworded to define picture arcade and to provide
a definition of an adult picture arcade.
20. Section 103.1 01.1. Picture Arcade Regulations.
This section is amended to provide that a permit is required
for operating a picture arcade. It also includes regulations
for picture arcades and adult picture arcades.
21. Section 103.101.2. Compliance by Existing Permittees.
This section is amended to provide that all picture arcade
permittees must comply with the provisions of Section 103.101.1
upon its effective date.
22. Section 103.102. Cafe Entertainment and Shows.
This section is amended to delete provisions relating to issuance
of a permit, Board decision, suspension or revocation of a
permit and Board rules and regulations.
23. Section 103.102.1. Additional Regulations. This
new section provides regulations for adult entertainment businesses,
including, but not limited to:
The following prohibitions:
entertainment unless it is upon a stage at least 18 inches
in height and separated at least six feet from patrons
with fixed rails at least 30 inches high
and patrons coming within six feet of each other
tipping of entertainers
or giving away of sexually oriented merchandise
sexual conduct, including sexual intercourse, sodomy,
oral copulation or masturbation
of any kind in areas where patrons have access, except
The following requirements:
dressing rooms, entrance/exit for entertainers
lighting (not less than two foot-candles)
restrooms for males and females
with signage, parking, design standards
to have government issued identification
manager on the premises
24. Section 103.102.2. Compliance
by Existing Permittees. This new section requires that
certain designated provisions in Section 103.102.1 (that require
physical changes to the premises) must be implemented no later
than 180 days of the effective date of that section. All other
provisions must be complied with on the effective date of
25. Section 103.109. Motion Picture Shows. Procedures
relating to issuance of a permit, decision of the Board, suspension
or revocation of a permit and Board rules and regulations
have been deleted from this section.
Based upon the relevant case law and the experiences of other
cities that are attempting to combat the deleterious impacts
of adult entertainment businesses, the City Attorney's Office
submits a draft ordinance which revises the administrative
procedures relating to permits and adds sections regulating
adult entertainment business and recommends its approval.
If you have any questions, please contact Asha Greenberg at
(310) 575-8544 or Mike Klekner at (213) 978-8253 of our office.
A representative of this Office will be available to answer
any questions you may have at the time you consider this ordinance.
TERREE A. BOWERS
Chief Deputy City Attorney