San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

January 28th, 2010
Council again extends SOB moratorium

012810bookstoreThe window at The Talk of the Town Bookstore in San Marcos. Photo by Andy Sevilla.

Associate Editor

The San Marcos City Council unanimously extended a prohibition against sexually oriented businesses (SOBs) this week while the city staff and council struggle to decide how such businesses should be zoned.

The extension, passed on emergency, keeps the moratorium in effect until April 30. The city’s initial six-month moratorium passed on May 11, 2009, just as the city was about to begin extending bar hours until 2 a.m.

The moratorium was set to expire at the end of this month, which would have allowed SOBs to set up shop in areas where they’re not prohibited by ordinance.

In their first meeting of the year, councilmembers directed staff to draft an ordinance regulating SOBs even further than the staff originally proposed. San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz wanted an avenue for public hearings at the Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission level, as well as advanced notification to surrounding neighbors and business of SOBs seeking to plant roots.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that municipal governments have the authority to regulate SOBs in efforts to minimize secondary effects, such as crime and property devaluation. In doing so, cities can effectively zone certain parts or districts within their jurisdictions for SOBs, though they cannot disallow SOBs outright, which would constitute an infringement on free speech.

In a 1976 decision, Young v. American Mini Theathres, the U.S. Supreme Court voted, 5-4, to uphold a Detroit ordinance requiring disbursement of SOBs throughout the city. Justice John Paul Stevens said in his opinion that municipalities have the right to address secondary impacts on their jurisdictions, through zoning laws, so long as the First Amendment is protected.

“… The First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content,” Stevens wrote. “…To permit the continued building of our politics and culture, and to assure self-fulfillment for each individual, our people are guaranteed the right to express any thought, free from government censorship.”

City staff has presented council with an ordinance determining heavy-industrial and light-industrial zones as appropriate grounds for SOBs. The allowable zones under the proposal amount to about 834 acres, or 4.4 percent of the city’s land area. However, the allowable areas also include some of San Marcos’ biggest employers. In addition, those parts of the city are in line for about $175 million in public improvements.

The proposed ordinance also would prohibit exposure of genital or private areas while also prohibiting entertainers from performing within three feet of a customer. Patrons would be prohibited from closed areas where they cannot be easily seen, excluding bathrooms, and the owner/managers of adult cabarets would be required to keep lists of all employees, whether on or off-duty.

In other council business, several appointments were made to city commissions and boards. Newly elected Councilmember Ryan Thomason was appointed to the Capital Area Housing Commission. Arthur Taylor was appointed to the Ethics Review Commission. Christie Neumann was appointed to the Main Street Advisory Board. Pat Murdock and Barry Davis were appointed to the Veteran’s Affairs Advisory Commission.


The hot oil and shaving creme wrestling show packed the dance floor Wednesday night at Nephew’s. Photos by Andy Sevilla.


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0 thoughts on “Council again extends SOB moratorium

  1. There’s nothing wrong with a little fun. The girls still had clothes on and everything……. I’ve had house parties wilder than that!

  2. It’s raunchy fun, and not my taste…..but I’m not prudish enough to try to sit here and tell others that they aren’t allowed to do it if it’s what floats their boat. I’m not a fan of “legislated morality”. If I don’t like the entertainment on tap at a certain establishment on a certain night – I simply won’t go there.

  3. Like TV, if you don’t like the channel—change it on your set. If you don’t want to buy something or go to something, then don’t. Prohibition didn’t work ’cause you can’t legislate morality. Afterall, we still allow people to smoke right? And there’s no question it’s stupid and kills, including bystanders with second hand smoke. Quit wasting tax money trying to “cookie-cutter people”.

  4. They have frat parties for this type of stuff. If we get these strip clubs I am sure there will be plenty of business meetings taking place. There are towns in Texas that do not have these types of businesses. Let’s figure out how they did it. I have lived in these towns. I hope someone can figure out how they did it. anyone?

  5. Shouldn’t we spend our time figuring out how to attract jobs, better educate our kids, etc. rather than worry about small stuff like this?? If people truly don’t want this type of business, then just don’t patronize them and they will go away. What a novel concept–what the republicans call “free enterprise” and “capitalism”. And why do the “family values” folks clamor they don’t want government telling them what to do, yet they turn around and push this useless legislation??? Which is it??

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