DALLAS — Reforms approved Wednesday by the Dallas City Council to local adult business ordinances outlaw the presence of minors and closed-door VIP rooms in strip clubs.
According to The Dallas Morning News, the council revised its requirements for an adult business license after police discovered a 12-year-old girl dancing nude at Diamond's Cabaret in March.
"When we realized we did not have the tools in place, we have moved quickly to put those tools in place," said Mayor Tom Leppert. "We are pressing the issues associated with the minors, and it gives us the tools the police department is going to need to continue to address this situation and address it in a very forceful way, a very aggressive way and a very timely way."
Free Speech Coalition executive director Diane Duke criticized the revisions as "overbroad and overreaching for what they want to do.
"The city council had a knee-jerk reaction," she said. "It's imposing unnecessary rules that have nothing to do with 12-year-olds on clubs that do not and will not employ 12-year-olds."
The Lodge strip club owner Dawn Rizos, however, said she had no problem with the new restrictions.
"We support any measures that will prevent such a situation from ever happening again," Rizos said. "The Lodge already complies with nearly all the new changes, except for the fingerprinting."
The reforms to Dallas' adult business laws call for:
• An automatic one-year revocation of licenses for any adult business found to be employing or allowing entrance by minors.
• A ban on doors, walls, drapes or anything obstructing the view of VIP areas in a strip club from the rest of the premises.
• A designated official club operator to be present during all operating hours and responsible for all activity within a club.
• Detailed records to be kept on file of all employees including their age, an original photo, a copy of a valid driver's license, their fingerprints and a Texas criminal history report.
The revised ordinance takes effect Monday. It reduces the number of days within which a club cited with a violation can be shut down from 30 to 10, but does not include several requirements some council members had hoped to impose.
Those include city licenses for adult business employees, mandatory cover charges and the prohibition of physical contact between strip club dancers and patrons. There was concern amongst city officials that these edicts would invite legal challenges.
Mayor Leppert said the council will review the new ordinance in six to twelve months "so we can see how this law plays, and it'll let us see if we need additional tools."
Added District 3 council member Dave Neumann, "We need to make sure the tool works. If this does not work, we'll come back six months from now."
District 13 council member Mitchell Rasansky voiced a determination to tighten the ordinance further, saying, "This is only the first stage."
The council passed the law after a nearly two-hour long closed session during which they received briefing from city attorney Tom Perkins, whose office has been studying possible changes to Dallas' adult business laws for close to a year and a half.