How many of you have ever been to Times Square in New York? Not for Dick Clark and the whole New Years Eve thing, nor for the Disney scene. Im talking about for the porn shops, peep show booths, and what have you. If you havent, you might want to go now before just about all of them disappear.
In 1995, New York City passed a zoning law that restricted adult businesses to commercial and manufacturing districts – in essence, non-residential zones. Even within the commercial and manufacturing districts, there were statutes for the placement of such adult businesses. For example, they couldnt exist within 500 feet of a church, nor within 500 of a school, nor within 500 feet of each other. It seems, though, that many enterprises in certain areas such as Times Square and Greenwich Village were able to escape the adult business moniker. A business would have to showcase at least a 40% inventory stock of adult material to be labeled as an adult enterprise.
Therefore, a lot of businesses were able to skate by in largely residential neighborhoods by stocking 39% or less sexual material. Even if a sex shop derived the bulk of its revenue from sex tapes, peep show booths, etc., legally they were well within their rights to exist in those places. Well, the city passed an ordinance in 2001 to close the loophole posed by the adult business description. And an appellate court in New York state recently (in April) upheld the new definition of what an adult-themed enterprise was. Youll find the new definition at http://www.gaycitynews.com/gcn_415/courtupholdssexshop.html along with more of the story. The bottom line is, unless this ruling of the appellate court is overturned, a lot of sex shops will suddenly be found to be in contempt of the zoning law.
I have a somewhat tongue-in-cheek question: In a city of over eight million within an approximate 300 sq. mi. area, what isnt a residential neighborhood? Granted, Im not the first person to ever hold this view.
But (somewhat) seriously, Id always considered Times Square one of the great porn meccas in the world; possibly the greatest on the eastern seaboard. If youre a porn aficionado like I am, and you live in the mid-Atlantic region on the east coast, you make your pilgrimage to New York. If you live on the left coast, you make your way to The Valley. If you live in Europe, you call on the Red Light District in Amsterdam.
Now, the porn shrine in the Square is no more. (*with mock dramatic intensity, one fist raised to the sky*) Damn you, Mickey Mouse, damn you!