I respect the constitutional right of adult businesses to operate in Shelby County, and believe it inappropriate for the County Commission to legislate based on its moral disapproval of such businesses. However, after reviewing the empirical evidence, I was persuaded that such businesses cause what the courts refer to as “secondary effects”—increases in crime and decreases in property values—which justify reasonable regulations. That’s why I voted for the county’s tough new Sexually Oriented Business (SOB) ordinance. The ordinance isn’t perfect, as I explained in this guest editorial in the Memphis Flyer( ACleanUp) but for the most part it strikes the right balance.
In my view, however, the county SOB ordinance didn’t address the important problem of SOBs being allowed to operate in residential zones and near churches and schools. SOBs should have a right to exist, but in industrial areas away from where our children sleep, school, and worship. Some SOBs do so only because they were “grandfathered in.” For that reason, I sponsored land use regulations which make clear that if SOBs get their license suspended or revoked under the new ordinance, they lose the benefit of the “grandfather clause” and must move to an industrial zone. The regulation also addresses the common scenario where once an SOB gets shut down, the owner simply deeds it over to another SOB operator, who reopens it under a new name a month later. The regulations I sponsored specify that if an SOB loses its license, no one can operate an SOB at that site any longer.