Ventura County Barrier Ordinance Is Just the Same-Old, Same-Old

VENTURA, Calif.—After trying for several days, AVN has finally obtained a copy of Ventura County's new "Safer Sex In The Adult Film Industry Ordinance," which amends Chapter 10 of Division 4 of the Ventura County Ordinance Code to require "condoms and other biological barriers" to be used by any adult producer who wishes to get a permit to shoot in unincorporated areas of Ventura County.

Just so there's no doubt about what the new ordinance, which went into effect last week, requires, Section 4971(f) of the ordinance states, "Producers of adult films are required by California Code of Regulations Title 8, Section 5193 to use barrier protection, including condoms, to protect employees during the production of adult films and it is the intent of the ordinance codified in this chapter to discourage violations of those standards without duplicating or contradicting them as permitted by cases as Cohen v. Board of Supervisors (1985) 40 Cal. 3rd. 227 and Bravo Vending v. City of Rancho Mirage (1993) 16 Cal. App.4th 383."

But the reason given for enacting the ordinance in the first place is pure fantasy: "The purpose and intent of the ordinance codified in this chapter is to minimize the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases in the production of adult films in Ventura County." The fact is, there have been no HIV transmissions on hetero adult sets in California for more than eight years, and the incidence of other STDs in adult is comparable to the incidence of STDs among a similar age group in Los Angeles County and likely in Ventura County as well. Moreover, adult production companies do their best to film discretely when on location, and despite what Linda Parks, author of the legislation, told her fellow supervisors and local media, county neighborhoods are virtually unaffected by adult movie production in the county.

For example, the supervisors received a letter from one Dollirae Costas-Gray, co-owner of a local used car dealership and one of the prime movers in favor of the ordinance, who complained, "In the last few months, we’ve experienced a problem that you may be aware of by now. We have the porn industry moving into houses in our neighborhood. One house in particular is directly above our house. We can see their camera and industrial size lights outside on their many balconies. When they’re filming, they have a few camera men outside on the balcony shinning [sic] the lights into the house thru the sliding glass doors. When they aren’t filming they’re talking loudly about the filming. We can hear everything they say because this is a really quiet neighborhood and we’re on a hill where sound travels. Anyway, it’s really awkward having this filming go on literally a matter of yards from our house. We have 4 children and we would really appreciate it if this wasn’t taking place. Please pass the ordinance requiring actors in adult films to wear condoms during movie production. I really believe it would cause these people to search out other areas where families aren’t just a back yard away."

As the above paragraph makes clear, Costas-Gray has absolutely no interest in "protecting" adult performers from sexually transmitted diseases; for her, enacting the ordinance is merely an excuse to stop adult producers from filming near her house—an activity which, under California law, they have a perfect right to do.

The only other letter on this topic in the Board of Supervisors' online filing system is from someone named "Cheryl," who didn't provide a last name, and who appears to be writing from sometime in the late 1960s: "Please pass a bill that will get rid of the porn in our neighborhood. You see all we use to have to think about was chickens in our yards turkeys on the cars and not hitting horses as we would back out of our driveways. My parents brought us out here in 1968 for a better life, and it has been. I have lived on Kathleen Dr [which street has a house that has been used as an adult shooting location] for 28 years and love our rural piece of heaven. It is now being [t]hought of as the porn street. This is a business it should not be in a neighborhood. People are making money by renting to this industry, they move away and leave us with this! I have always been so proud of our community. We have children around here."

Again, this letter expresses no concern for whether adult performers have STDs or are infecting local citizens with them; she just doesn't like the idea that perfectly legal adult productions are being shot in her community!

Even Parks herself, according to an article in the Kitsap Sun online newspaper, doesn't care about protecting anyone from alleged HIV/STD transmission.

"Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks is planning to introduce an ordinance requiring condoms, a regulation similar to the initiative passed by Los Angeles County voters in November and by the Simi Valley City Council last year," wrote Associated Press reporter Wendy Leung for the Kitsap Sun. "Parks believes such an ordinance would deter pornographic films from being made here."

''If it means they can only film someplace else, that would be fine with me," Parks said.

Of course, that's not what Parks and fellow supervisor Kathy Long told their fellow board members!

"The purpose of the proposed urgency ordinance is to prevent and reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)," Parks and Long stated in a letter to the Board of Supervisors dated May 7, the date of the ordinance's enactment. "Ventura County has seen a recent increase in the number of peple diagnosed with HIV and in the number of AIDS related deaths. There were 26 reported cases of HIV in 2011, and that number increased to 46 cases in 2012. Additionally, for that same period the number of AIDS related deaths increased from 14 to 21."

But in fact, Parks and Long don't even try to make a case that adult filming and its performers have had anything at all to do with the increase in HIV infection and AIDS deaths. Their letter simply notes that the adult producers have shot non-barrier protected scenes in unincorporated Ventura County, that the adult industry produces several thousand XXX productions per year, and that the American Public Health Association claims that from 2004 through 2008, 18 to 26 percent of performers were diagnosed with at least one gonorrhea or Chlamydia infection each year—and implies that those same adult performers are having sex with Ventura County citizens who have nothing to do with adult at all!

"Workers in the adult film industry are not an isolated community," Parks and Long claim. "Diseases contracted on film sets can very quickly be spread to the larger community. Protecting the health of adult performers protects our community's health."

In a word, horseshit! Adult performers working in the county aren't scurrying from the set to local bars or other pick-up joints to have sex with the patrons. Having already had sex, they're generally tired after a long day of filming and eager to go home.

Nonetheless, Parks and Long go on for several pages implying (though never stating) that somehow, adult performers are passing along HIV and other STD infections to the locals, despite their having no evidence that such transmissions are taking place.

In any case, the new ordinance requires that adult producers obtain a filming permit from the Director of Public Health for the county or "his or her designees," and that permit shall be issued within 14 business days of receiving the completed application—although if the director "determines on the basis of substantial evidence" that the applicant has lied on the form, has failed to pay the permit fee, has failed to acknowledge receipt of the ordinance itself, or the application indicates that the shoot would violate the ordinance "or other applicable law," the permit may be refused—and the adult producer can sue to have it issued anyway. (Lotsa luck with that!)

Anyway, if a permit is issued, the producer must post a sign "in any conventional typeface with a font size not smaller than 36 points" which reads, "The use of condoms is required for all acts of anal, oral, or vaginal sex during the production of adult films to protect performers from sexually transmitted infections."

The new ordinance also allows the Director of Public Health to "review all film or other media evidencing sexual penetration or oral sex in the production of an adult film in the County" and "allow the Director to inspect, during production or otherwise, any filming location at which sexual penetration or oral sex in the production of an adult film takes place." At that point, "Officers duly authorized by the Director to conduct the inspection may enter and inspect the filming location, issue citations, and secure any samples, photographs, or other evidence relating to the permittee's compliance with this chapter."

Despite the ordinance's earlier references to Section 5193, the ordinance contains a special section, "4977 - Condom requirements," which states that "condoms or dental dams shall be used in the production of every adult film in the County in every instance of oral sex and in every instance of sexual penetration," and other sections require that plenty of extra condoms, dental dams and lube be supplied by the producer.

But here's a kicker: Section 4979 - Violations. "Any person or entity who produces or films an adult film for commercial purposes in the County without a valid permit, or any person, who violates any law, ordinance or regulation governing any activity regulated by this chapter, or who, upon demand of the Director, refuses or neglects to conform to a lawful order or directive of the Director pertaining to conduct regulated by this chapter, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $1,000, imprisonment in the County jail for a period not to exceed six months, or both. Each such act is punishable as a separate offense." [Emphasis added]

And to think: Ventura County used to be such a friendly place!

The text of the "Safer Sex In The Adult Film Industry Ordinance," can be found here. The letter from Linda Parks and Kathy Long to the Board of Supervisors can be found here.