2001-04-04 / Political Page

Mayor Tries To Eliminate Loophole From Law Banning Topless Bars

Mayor Tries To
Eliminate
Loophole From Law Banning
Topless Bars

Having failed to achieve the level of success he anticipated in closing sex shops and go-go bars in residential areas, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is seeking to amend the original sex establishment zoning law by closing the loopholes that are rendering the original law ineffective.

City Councilmember Walter McCaffrey (D-Woodside) filed the legislation in the City Council on Mar. 26.

Four days later, the state Court of Appeals in Albany, the state’s highest court, ruled in the city’s favor in two cases involving topless bars in Manhattan.

In one case, attorneys for the topless bars argued that the city’s zoning-based law did not apply to them because they were operating under a State Liquor Authority license. The court ruled against them unanimously.

In the second case, the topless bar admitted minors once to get around the provision that defined an adult establishment. The court ruled this was merely an end run around the law and upheld the city’s action in shutting them down.

McCaffrey’s bill, backed by the mayor, seeks to close the loophole in the existing law that permits a topless bar or adult establishment to operate in a residential area if no more than 40 percent of the business is dedicated to adult entertainment.

The McCaffrey amendment also eliminates a similar loophole which allows adult book stores or shops to operate in a residential area if no more than 40 percent of the store deals in pornographic or adult materials.

The McCaffrey amendment leaves untouched the main provision of the law that adult stores and establishments can operate only in commercial areas distant from residential areas. It emphasizes that eating and drinking establishments that regularly feature adult entertainment within 500 feet of homes, places of worship or schools are outlawed.

—John Toscano


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