LA Supes to Discuss Measure B Permit Fees at Meeting Tuesday

LOS ANGELES—It's been about 16 months since a settlement was reached between Vivid Entertainment Group, Los Angeles County and AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) in the lawsuit over L.A. County's Measure B—formally, the "Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act"—and now, for reasons not explained, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors will be convening tomorrow, July 25, to discuss the fees that the county will want to charge to pay for the inspections (which the county never wanted to perform) of adult filming sets, and the amount to assess each studio whose set is visited by a county health inspector.

For those who may not be familiar with the whole Measure B controversy, here's a short history: Back in November of 2012, after AHF collected enough signatures to get its mandatory condom initiative on the L.A. County ballot, and after a massive advertising campaign in support of the measure, county voters passed Measure B in November of 2012, and shortly after that Vivid Entertainment Group, along with performers Kayden Kross and Logan Pierce, sued the county to stop enforcement of the measure. At that time, the county made it known that it had no intention of defending the measure, but in April of 2013, AHF attempted to intervene in the case to save its measure from legal defeat—despite the fact that, as it turned out, such intervention was illegal, according to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Prop 8 case, which it decided just two months later.

But AHF was allowed to intervene by presiding Judge Dean D. Pregerson, and the litigation dragged on for nearly three years, with the judge eventually issuing a split decision on several pre-trial issues in August of 2013, finding that the mandatory condom measure was constitutional, but severely restricting the county's ability to enforce the law by throwing out a fee schedule and warrantless search feature which had been included in the measure as passed. Within a week, Vivid had appealed the judge's ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, asking that court also to exclude AHF from both the appeal and all future proceedings, but the Ninth Circuit upheld Judge Pregerson's decision and AHF's participation, at least until trial in the case began. However, that trial never took place, with the parties reaching the above-noted agreement in March of 2016.

Part of that settlement was to prohibit the county from enforcing any aspect of Measure B for three years from the settlement date, so it's unclear why the County Board of Supervisors has chosen tomorrow to begin discussions as to what fees it will charge for film permits and set inspections, though according to a news story in the Los Angeles Daily News, "the fee schedule is only now being released because of delays caused by legal challenges."

"Public health officials will propose that adult film producers pay $1,672 for a permit and about $65 for each visit public health inspectors make to a set to ensure condoms are being used," stated reporter Susan Abram in her story, adding that the county's interim health officer, Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, said that even with fees in place, "[t]hat doesn’t mean inspectors will make unannounced visits or watch filming," only make sure that "producers have health and safety signage posted on the walls of sets"—unless a complaint is made to the department by a performer.

However, depending on what actions the County Board of Supervisors does take, the lawsuit against the Measure could be revived, and if it is, it is likely that AIDS Healthcare would be barred from becoming an intervenor, thanks to the Hollingsworth decision.

Beyond that, as Free Speech Coalition noted shortly after the settlement was signed, "While AHF has attempted to spin this as a win, they’ve wasted millions on an unenforceable measure that has accomplished nothing. Their saber-rattling has had one effect, however: the loss of a once-vibrant industry. In the years since the Measure was passed, the adult film industry in the San Fernando Valley has been shuttered, taking with it much-needed jobs and tax-dollars." And as the Daily News noted, adult filming permit applications dropped from 480 in 2012 to 25 in 2015. They remain low.

Upon hearing of the impending Supervisors' meeting, Free Speech Coalition Executive Director Eric Paul Leue issued the following statement:

"We continue to oppose the dubious remnants of Measure B, including its unenforceable permitting. Last spring, a federal judge ruled that the proposed inspections and enforcement of Measure B were unconstitutional, as it amounted to a general warrant. He also ruled that the cost of any permit must be tied to their enforcement. Given that the permits can’t be legally enforced, we’re uncertain of the math used to calculate the cost.
"For years, adult producers worked with the county to pull general film permits for adult productions in Los Angeles County. However, after Measure B passed, production fled with it to outlying counties and Nevada. Permits fell over 95 percent in the first year alone, and last year only 26 permits were pulled in L.A. County. That represents well over two million dollars in lost revenue for the County. 
In the wake of the defeat of Prop 60, and the start of a positive and progressive working relationship with Cal/OSHA, we’d like to bring back adult production to L.A. County. We’d like to bring back jobs and tax revenue. Voters and public health officials have sided with us. We hope the Board of Supervisors does as well.
"However, we are very concerned that this upcoming meeting was scheduled without input from either performers or producers, and without any alert to the adult film industry about the agenda. We’ve been asking to discuss these issues with Dr. Ferrer since her appointment to the Department of Public Health, including when we met in May at the HIV Commission. We are tremendously disappointed that we have not received any response, nor seen any interest from the Department of Public Health in including the stakeholders in this discussion."

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting will take place beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, Room 381B, 500 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, and is open to the public. Anyone interested in the future of the adult industry in Los Angeles is free to attend.