In 2001, the City of Dania Beach passed an Ordinance requiring adult establishments to operate exclusively in their marine district. The Ordinance gave the adult establishments three years to move from that 2001 date. The three year time limit came and passed with no word from the City and no enforcement. All of a sudden in September, the five adult establishments, that being one dance club and four bookstores were all served with notices that they had until the end of September to leave their premises or face code violations and prosecution.
The letters that these stores received, made mention to the 2001 Ordinance, but failed to mention that the City early in 2006, passed a much more comprehensive adult entertainment code. With the passage of the 2001 Ordinance and the 2006 Code, essentially all of the aspects of adult entertainment are now being regulated by Dania Beach.
What this means, is that the adult bookstores and dance club in Dania Beach will have to comply with the Ordinances and Code and therefore move from their currently location and adopt the new regulations as part of their doing business, or they will have to file suit. In upcoming issues, we will inform you of what the adult establishments chose to do and of course inform you of the Court’s rulings as the process goes on.
On another note, last month United States District Court Judge Alberto Jordan ruled in the case of the adult bookstores that had sued Miami-Dade County for their doors off booths Ordinance. Unfortunately, Judge Jordan did not agree with the adult bookstores’ contention and ruled in favor of the County. This ruling therefore validates the County’s assertion that it was constitutional to regulate adult booths by requiring that doors come off those booths.
However, the three video stores that filed suit originally, have now filed an appeal of Judge Jordan’s decision. This appeal, from a practical sense, means that the issue dealing with doors being required to be off adult video booths in adult bookstores is still going on without a final determination. Of course, we will keep you informed of how the appeal is going and when the appellate court rules and what that decision is.
Lastly, the City of Lauderhill seems to be on a tirade against any establishment that may even be remotely adult inside its city. Currently going on is litigation involving two video stores that contended that they were not adult, but the City of Lauderhill classified them as being adult. One of the stores is simply seeking to have the Court to declare it to be non-adult and to further declare that various portions of the Lauderhill Code were unconstitutional and the actions of City Code Enforcement officials were also unconstitutional. The other store, unfortunately was forced out of business due to the City’s actions. This store is seeking damages from the City.
More important than the lawsuits, are some of the basis for these lawsuits. Apparently, Code officials from the City of Lauderhill believe that they have the power to walk into an establishment, demand that it close, change the locks on the establishment, kick out the patrons and threaten arrests. For establishments that do not have constitutionally protected expression and speech and materials on their premises, this alone is a violation of due process and the City’s Code. But for establishments that do have constitutionally protected First Amendment rights, this type of action is more than egregious, it is a total affront to the First Amendment.
For those of you in the adult entertainment industry, or for those of you that have First Amendment protected expression on your premises, should any code enforcement official come in and do something similar as mentioned above, we implore you to contact your lawyer at once. By and large code officials do not have the power to just unilaterally shut down an establishment, but rather must go through proper procedures such as license revocation or suspension procedures that afford some type of due process.
As always, we encourage and ask any of you that may have any adult entertainment or First Amendment stories that would be beneficial to all of our readers to please contact us. The purpose of our article is not just to promote ourselves, but rather to inform. We do not pretend to know all that is going on in South Florida. There are many issues and many cases that slip by. So again, if there is something important that the world needs to know, please contact us so that we may share it.