- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 31, 2007

The nude-dancing “compromise” being forged this week in the D.C. Council is no compromise. It still allows a red-light district to take shape along the New York Avenue corridor, and we still oppose it. The Gateway to the Nation’s Capital must not be a dumping ground for the worst kind of “entertainment.” We’re still waiting for Council member Jim Graham and other proponents who do not live in Ward 5 to volunteer their own wards as venues for live pornography.

We credit Ward 5 Council member Harry Thomas Jr. for pushing against the club owners and their lieges on the council, but the so-called compromise isn’t enough. The key item in the new proposal restricts club licenses to businesses that were evicted from the Anacostia waterfront through eminent domain, excluding those who were merely renting space. This means that two licenses would be issued instead of the expected six.

But this does not mean that only two clubs would relocate along the corridor. There could be as many as eight, nine or even more. That’s a lot of naked bodies. One proprietor has already purchased two properties just off New York Avenue — one at 2120 West Virginia Ave. NE and the other at 2046 West Virginia Ave. These establishments would be exempt from the pending legislation. Since proprietors often stack several clubs in one property on one license — and it’s legal — this means that five or six additional nudie bars could relocate to the area, for a total of eight, nine or more.

That’s a red-light district, all to attract crime, drugs, prostitution and the usual social ills that overwhelm a neighborhood. It would disproportionately drain public safety resources.

The best solution is the one we’ve advocated from the beginning. If there’s a genuine need for these clubs, other neighborhoods should have them, too. Why deprive Georgetown, Kalorama and Cleveland Park? Don’t folks in Friendship Heights and other neighborhoods want these beer joints near their homes? Wouldn’t a nudie club or two enrich Adams Morgan?

The people who live there probably don’t think so, and neither do we. The D.C. Council imagined it could dump these blights into Ward 5. Consider the First Christ Apostolic Church on 2130 24th Place NE, which might soon be surrounded by nudie clubs. Nexus Gold Club wants to relocate to 2127 Queens Chapel Road NE, just behind the church. Club 55 wants 2122 24th Place NE, next to the church.

The rest of the proposal includes provisions that should be in place anyway: A minimum 1,200 feet distance between clubs; applying “sexually oriented” zoning restrictions to these clubs; requiring them to fund neighborhood cleanups and other community benefits; and ensuring that clubs comport with the Office of Planning’s Small Area Plan. As things now stand, a custer of “adult-themed” clubs is nowhere on the planning map.

Ward 5 residents are angry but not weary. Stakeholders successfully stopped a casino from locating along the New York Avenue corridor and fended off two halfway houses (one of which is the Federal Bureau of Prisons). The D.C. Council must do the right thing: Disperse these clubs. Don’t fob them onto the New York Avenue corridor. Surely D.C. Council members could find room for the nudies in their neighborhoods, and spread the “wealth” across the District.

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