Under a propopsed rewrite of San Marcos ordinances, strip clubs, adult video stores and other adult businesses would have to locate in industrial zones and outside buffers around Interstate 35, churches, schools, residences and other designated buildings. Download the full map here.
by BRAD ROLLINS
Editor and Publisher
Fearing an influx of strip clubs and topless joints when bar hours were extended to 2 a.m., the San Marcos City Council in May slapped a moratorium on new sexually oriented businesses and ordered a review of city ordinances that regulate them.
When finally a draft overhaul of pertinent municipal law landed on the agenda at their regular meeting on Tuesday, city council members one after another proffered their reasons for concern before voting unanimously to table the proposal. The delay will require council members to extend for a second time what originally was a six month moratorium on adult businesses.
“We changed our market when we changed our bar hours. … Legally we can’t outlaw [adult oriented businesses] but we we’re doing everything we can to protect our city,” Mayor Susan Narvaiz said.
The draft confines adult businesses to areas zoned for light or heavy industrial use and that lie outside of a 1,000 foot buffer along Interstate 35 and a 1,500 foot buffer around churches, schools, parks, residences, bars, the Central Business District or another adult business.
That eliminates 95.6 percent of San Marcos’ land area, leaving a handful of properties where adult businesses could locate that fall, as it happens, near the planned site of Hays County’s government center on Stagecoach Trail; behind the Thermon Manufacturing near the HEB distribution center; along Clovis Barker Drive where a division of Philips Electronics operates a manufacturing plant; and areas adjoining the Heldenfels Enterprises Inc. concrete plant in far south San Marcos and the C-Fan manufacturing plant in far north San Marcos.
Only 4.6 percent of the city would be appropriately zoned under the draft ordinance, Planning Director Matthew Lewis said, compared to 26 percent in current law absent the moratorium.
Narvaiz seemed alarmed that the rewritten ordinance, in practice, would confine adult businesses near some of the city’s largest employers and within sight of major gateways.
The Wonder World Drive railroad overpass might offer drivers a panoramic view of a patch where an adult business could legally set up shop within walking distance from property where the county is about to start building its $74 million campus. The Clovis Barker Drive locations, meanwhile, sit around the corner from the Hays Juvenile Detention Center and the Hays County Civic Center.
“If you publish this map to people who are in the surrounding areas, they may have something to say,” Narvaiz said. The mayor said she also wants to include that nearby property owners be notified of an adult business owner’s application for licensing and a public hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission built into the process.
In addition to zoning restrictions, adult business operators would have to be licensed by the San Marcos police chief who could reject applicants with criminal histories and suspend or revoke licenses for infractions that range from having intoxicated employees to allowing drug use or prostitution on premises. Each employee would also have to receive a permit from the city.
The ordinance also outlines operation standards for adult businesses with further restrictions that, for instance, prohibit performers from being closer than three feet of a customer, a provision that would outlaw lap dances and other staples of establishments that peddle those wares. Cabaret performers cannot show the genitals or public hair; adult motels can’t offer an hourly rate; and sofas and beds are banned in “sexual encounter centers” unless they’re in a “reception area opened to the public.”
The 31-page code’s explicit definitions and restrictions spawn more than a few hypotheticals of a nature not normally fodder for city council deliberation.
Council member John Thomaides asked, “If someone is at an establishment and hands over a dollar bill, they have violated the law of this city. Is that correct?”
“The person offering the dollar bill wouldn’t be in violation. The performer being within three feet of the customer at the point they took the dollar bill would be violation of this ordinance as it is drafted,” City Attorney Michael Cosentino said.
Council member Kim Porterfield wonder aloud whether the ordinance’s intent was to make conditions so “onerous and stringent” for adult businesses to open in San Marcos that they choose to go elsewhere.
“Are you confident that this will discourage or make it likely less profitable for adult oriented businesses to come to San Marcos even though you can’t eliminate them? … They’re going to go to San Antonio or austin to open a strip club instead of coming to San Marcos?” Porterfield asked.
“Our idea is to make it where we regulate the secondary effects more stringently,” Lewis said.
Texas law allows municipalities to write laws intended to regulate adult businesses insomuch as they are “detrimental to the public health, safety, and welfare by contributing to the decline of residential and business neighborhoods and the growth of criminal activity.”
San Marcos’ proposed ordinances begins with a length definition of adult businesses which encompasses adult arcades, bookstores, cabarets, escort agencies, massage parlors, adult motels or theaters, novelty stores, adult service establishments, adult video stores, sex parlors, sexual encounter centers or nude modeling studios.
Email | Print