Houston Cracks Down on Adult Businesses

City Attorney Arturo Michel's office has ordered over 100 adult businesses to shut down or face civil and criminal penalties in warning letters sent via certified mail on Thursday, the Houston Chronicle reports.

"They need to close up," Capt. Steve Jett of the Houston police department's vice unit told the Chronicle. "We wanted to give them fair warning."

In the letters, the city notified owners of adult bookstores, cabarets and other sexually-oriented businesses that they are operating in violation of an ordinance that prohibits such establishments from locating within 1,500 feet of churches, schools, parks and other designated areas of the city.

Passed by the City Council in 1997, the ordinance has been challenged in federal and appellate courts for the past decade on constitutional grounds.  

"The sole purpose of this notice is to clarify the City of Houston's legal authority and intent to enforce ordinance provisions governing sexually oriented business enterprises beginning immediately," the letter reads. "This notice is not subject to reconsideration or administrative recourse."

According to the Chronicle report, employees and owners who fail to comply with the order could face arrest on a Class A misdemeanor charge punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. The city also may force adult businesses to close by seeking civil injunctions.

To read the full Chronicle report, click here.