August 8, 2001
CONTACT: Public Affairs Officer -- (212) 720-3471
THE CITY PLANNING COMMISSION APPROVES AMENDMENTS TO
STRENGTHEN ADULT USE ZONING REGULATIONS
Planning Commission today approved amendments to the
City's 1995 adult use zoning regulations governing "adult
establishments". The original zoning regulations were
intended to protect the quality of life in City neighborhoods
by prohibiting adult businesses from locating within
residential and neighborhood retail areas, and within
500 feet of schools, day care centers, houses of worship,
or any other adult establishment. The amendments adopted
today clarify and strengthen the current regulations
by addressing efforts by the operators of adult establishments
to circumvent the intent of the zoning and remain in
business at prohibited locations.
B. Rose, Chairman of the City Planning Commission, stated,"
From the outset, the City Planning Commission expressed
its determination to address efforts to evade the zoning.
Today's amendments affirm and reinforce the intent of
Mayor Giuliani, the City Planning Commission and the
City Council in adopting the original regulations: these
rules protect residential neighborhoods from the negative
effects of adult establishments while respecting constitutional
protections. We are confident that these amendments
will fully withstand judicial scrutiny, just as the
1995 regulations were unanimously sustained by 19 judges
at every level of the judicial process."
use zoning regulations were adopted in 1995 in response
to a Department of City Planning study which concluded
that triple-x video and bookstores, adult theaters,
and topless or nude bars have negative impacts on the
quality of life in local neighborhoods in terms of increased
crime, lowering of property values and slowing of economic
revitalization. The regulations were carefully crafted
to protect areas of the city vulnerable to the effects
of adult uses, while respecting constitutional standards.
use zoning regulations restrict the locations of businesses
with a predominant, on-going focus on sexually explicit
materials or activities.' In the case of topless bars
and restaurants, the 1995 regulations defined an "adult
eating or drinking establishment" as a restaurant or
bar which " regularly features" topless or nude entertainment.
A mistaken reading of the regulations has restricted
their application to situations where the adult entertainment
occupies 40 percent or more of the floor space inside
the bar or restaurant, with the result that many of
these businesses have remained in locations where they
are prohibited under zoning through the maneuver of
dividing up their space between so-called adult' and
non-adult' sections. In fact, the 60/40' floor area
test was never intended to apply eating or drinking
establishments with adult entertainment, and there is
no basis to suggest that the negative impacts of these
establishments disappear simply because nude dancing
is taking place in 39%, rather than 40% or more of the
floor space. The amendments adopted today eliminate
this loophole created by court rulings and restore and
clarify the original intent of the City Planning Commission
and the City Council in adopting the regulations.
case of adult video and book stores, operators have
employed various subterfuges in order to claim compliance,
without substantively altering the character of the
establishments. The courts have repeatedly recognized
these efforts as sham', but have pointed to a need
to address the subterfuges through legislative amendment.
The amendments adopted today do this by recognizing
that, in addition to the amount of stock and floor area
dedicated to adult material, other factors relating
to physical lay-out and method of operation have a bearing
on whether a book or video store has a predominant,
on-going focus on sexually explicit materials.'
adopted today by the City Planning Commission will be
referred to the City Council for consideration.
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