LONG BEACH - A federal judge's decision ruling against the city of Seattle brought into sharp focus the need for Long Beach to adopt ordinances controlling the practices and allowable locations of adult sexually oriented businesses.
In the decision, the judge stated Seattle was violating a strip-club owner's first amendment rights by not providing him with a location where he could open a legal, although controversial business. The city may now be liable for $5 million in damages.
City officials have been struggling with the issue, holding public meetings, and exploring options for several months. One potential temporary solution now being closely considered is to adopt the licensing ordinance, which would place strong guidelines on such a business' practices, while officials continue to work on the ordinance controlling where the businesses could locate.
"You make a good point that Seattle, if they had a licensing in place, they'd be in a much better position this morning," said City Administrator Robert Strope to the commission in a continued public hearing on Sept. 13. The public hearing will be continued at the next planning commission.
In other actions, after some discussion and clarifications, the commission recommended the proposal for construction of a conference center and outdoor pool at Ocean Lodge be advanced to City Council for approval. Ocean Lodge is located on Bolstad Ave.
When Commissioner Butch Currey asked the applicant, Way Lee, if it would be a two story structure with additional rooms on the second floor, Lee told him no, but said with a laugh, "You gave me an idea now."
The center would be able to seat approximately 100 people, but Lee said he doubted it would often attract events of that size. He explained he also considered other uses for the center, such as exercise classes, so wanted to ensure there was adequate space for such activities.
They also asked about the proposed chain-link fence that would surround the pool. Lee explained they decided on chain-link rather than a solid or wooden fence for safety and security reasons. The fence is needed to keep people from accidentally falling into the pool. The chain-link would allow the lodge's front office personnel to keep track of activities in the pool as a lifeguard would not always be on duty.
Acting Commissioner Robert Dennison was concerned the plan did not allow enough parking for the center. But Currey supported the design.
"Mr. Lee has been in business long enough to know if you can't park 'em you can't seat 'em," he said.
Three other design proposals for single family homes were also approved by the commission.