Mo. County Pushing Adult Business Ordinance

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jackson County has drafted a 38-page ordinance to regulate adult businesses in unincorporated areas surrounding Kansas City.

In a hearing Monday, the County Legislature received testimony from various officials on the ordinance, prepared and submitted by county executive Mike Sanders.

The county prosecutor, sheriff's office and health department all offered testimony in support of the ordinance. The proposal comes in the wake of concerns over a high number of reported crimes since 2004 at Erotic City, located just outside the Kansas City limits.

While Kansas City and other towns in the county have strict adult business regulations in place, rural areas like the one where Erotic City is located are "no different than what we had in the Wild West," said Sanders. "Anything goes."

Erotic City contains 26 viewing booths and a nude dance stage, and the sheriff's department said Monday that it has responded to 115 calls from the establishment's address since early 2004. Those calls were for incidents including assaults, auto thefts, harassment and property damage, and represent a far higher number than at any another business in the county.

One of the most recent, and perhaps most extreme offenses perpetrated there involved a man taking a 14-year-old girl onto the premises to have sex. The man was convicted in federal court for the crime, and the girl testified that she had sex with approximately 20 men in an "orgy room" there.

"It constantly has to be kept an eye on," county deputy Ronda Montgomery said Monday. Erotic City itself has not been charged with any unlawful activity, and in some cases, the manager was the complaining party.

Erotic City also poses a health threat, said Paula Livingston, head of the Jackson County Health Department, because sex can occur in its booths or through holes in the walls between booths, making the spread of sexually transmitted diseases a risk.

Two other business, both called After Dark, are located in unincorporated Jackson County, but few calls about illegal acts come from either, Montgomery said.

Ordinance author Sanders, who based the proposed regulations on ones in Kansas City and elsewhere, said he expects a lawsuit but that the ordinance is solid.

Among other things, the ordinance would require employees of adult businesses to be licensed, would ban locked doors and wall openings in video booths, and would require owners to prohibit loitering, sex or solicitation on the premises.

After Dark attorney Richard Bryant said he could not comment on the ordinance until he had read it, but that the Kansas City ordinance after which it was modeled has proved workable.

"It's certainly not one we have felt compelled to file a lawsuit on," Bryant said.