12 April, 2018
No more lap dances? Reno council strengthens on strip club enforcement
Article witten by SCN. Additional content from www.rgj.com.
Wednesday evening, the Reno City Council opted not to change course on its two-year effort to kick strip clubs out of the downtown area.
In fact, council members added a few more restrictions to the list of enforcement priorities they'd like city staff to pursue on the city's adult businesses, such as prohibiting lap dances, setting a minimum age of 21 for the dancers, better educating dancers before they start work and prohibiting private rooms at the clubs.
Council members state that those restrictions would address illegal activity the city believes is occurring in the strip clubs.
Six months ago, the council directed staff to rewrite city code to ban digital signs at strip clubs, prohibit alcohol at wrongly zoned strip clubs and require those clubs to move out of the area within five years. Council members also wanted better enforcement of the activity happening inside the clubs.
On Wednesday, Assistant City Attorney Johnathan Shipman asked the council to help staff prioritize the extensive task of rewriting that code after attention seemed to turn away from the location of the club and toward illicit activity allegedly taking place inside the clubs.
But the council asserted its desire to both strengthen enforcement and pursue the relocation of the clubs. Council members also emphasized that the proposed ordinances need to go through a public hearing process with the planning commission before they make another decision on the issue.
"I am still a little perplexed on how this is coming to us and the format that it's being presented to us in," Councilman David Bobzien said, adding that the direction from council six months ago was clear and he expects staff to still undertake it.
Brekhus agreed: "I think the green light is on."
The final outcome of the process is still far from certain.
The council is still undecided on whether the clubs should move out of the downtown area. In September the council voted 5-2 on the issue, with Mayor Hillary Schieve and Councilwoman Neoma Jardon opposed. Jardon was absent from the meeting Wednesday due to a medical issue.
But Schieve said she remains firm that the clubs should stay in downtown Reno. Schieve believes illicit activities would multiply if the clubs moved to an industrial area where they would be "out of sight out of mind."
She also wanted to ban any new strip clubs from opening in the city, a move Assistant City Attorney Johnathan Shipman said would be illegal because of the First Amendment protections such clubs appreciate.
"We are talking about the new Reno and the new Reno should not allow another strip club in this city," Schieve said.
Councilman Oscar Delgado, who voted in favor of relocating the clubs six months ago, seems to be revisiting his opinion. He wants the city to focus on enforcement first, saying he's concerned the clubs would end up concentrating in the industrial areas of his division.
Kamy Keshmiri, owner of the Wild Orchid, Fantasy Girls and Spice House, left Wednesday's meeting extremely frustrated.
"This is based on lies," he said, denying that any illegal activity happens in his clubs. "Where's the proof of these allegations?"
Keshmiri and his lawyer, Mark Thierman, had dropped a lawsuit they filed against the city believing that they had succeeded in better educating the city about the business of strip clubs.
"When this first came out, nobody from the staff had even been in the clubs," Thierman said, adding that in the past six months they've given tours to city council members and staff. "We run a safe place. I would say you have based this proposed legislation on a lack of information from the industry."
"What's the problem? You think prostitution is going on? Fine, fix it. There isn't, but you could try to fix it. You think something bad is going on fix it."