The Seattle Planning Commission has announced its intent to oppose Mayor Greg Nickel's strip club district proposal for SODO.
Last Thursday, Aug. 24, at 7:30 a.m. the panel gave its recommendation for the proposed adult cabaret legislation.
While 15 committee members gathered at their table, citizens filtered into the public chamber. Half an hour was given to the subject, and by 8 a.m., when the commission adjourned for a scheduled educational forum, a crowd of some 30 spectators lined the chamber walls.
"We've never had so many people come to one of our meetings before," commission vice chairman Tony To said.
Ten minutes were given to public comments.
A trio of attorneys representing Frank Colacurcio Jr. - owner of several Seattle strip clubs - accused the commission of ignoring letters submitted on behalf of their client. They were assured by To and panel member Scott Dvorak that their evidence had been read, and was referenced in the draft letter the commission has prepared for the Seattle City Council.
Rick Levy, legal counsel to Colacurcio, weighed in against the strip club zone and the city council's ordinance banning lap dancing and mandating better lighting and other conditions in Colacurcio establishments.
"We favor no legislation, but we urge you to act quickly," he said.
Beacon Hill resident Julie van Arcken - a former resident of Portland, Ore., where adult cabarets are not contained in one area - said, "When dispersed throughout the city, the neighbors can keep an eye on them and make sure they're good neighbors."
Commission member Dvorak presented the findings of the five-member panel:
First, "The planning commission does not endorse the mayor's proposal."
Second, the mayor's office did not prepare a convincing case for a concentration of cabarets. "It was not clearly laid out for us. There is not a compelling argument."
Third, about the boundaries: "If we were to support the zone, the commission could not make a definitive recommendation on the size of the proposed district." Projected "buffers" within the zone, he explained, could so limit cabarets in the area that clubs could conceivably be forced onto other neighborhoods.
Fourth, asked by the city council if the zone would be dedicated to vice, Dvorak commented, "We don't think it will create a red light district."
"The most troubling aspect," he summarized, "was that no compelling reasons came up for why we were doing this. I still don't see a compelling case."
Though not recommending a strip club zone in SODO, the panel is not recommending a dispersed model, either. "We can't recommend a city-wide approach," commission member Tom Eanes said, "as we need to do more study."
The report will be completed by September 14, when the Seattle Planning Commission will vote on sending the finished recommendation to the city council. Remaining work on the report is minor, and no substantive changes are expected.
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