Strip clubs would need to be at least 800 feet away from schools, parks and churches in Yakima’s light industrial zones in order to be approved under a proposed city ordinance.
The revisions to the city’s adult entertainment ordinance are designed to comply with a federal court’s ruling in July that the city’s standard for deciding whether to approve such establishments was unconstitutional.
Ben Shoval, chairman of the city planning commission, said the panel tried to develop an ordinance that struck a balance between meeting the city’s obligation to allow adult businesses and addressing community concerns over any negative effects.
“The community has made clear that it does not want any adult businesses in Yakima. However, we have no choice but to respect the federal court’s opinion, which is that nude dancing must be allowed somewhere in the city,” Shoval said in a written response to an inquiry by the Yakima Herald-Republic.
The court ruling emerged from a Zillah businessman’s appeal of the city’s rejection of his application to place a strip club on South First Street.
The old ordinance required a 500-foot buffer but allowed city officials to decide whether a strip club or other adult ordinance was compatible with the neighborhood. The court found that standard too vague.
The proposed revision strives to makes the decision more clearcut. Adult businesses would have to comply with all other zoning requirements as well.
The 800-foot buffer would apply to schools, day cares, churches, parks, public libraries, city property and the city limits next to Union Gap.
City staff estimated that 157 parcels on 407 acres would be eligible for development under the ordinance, though its unclear how many are actually available.
The city’s light industrial zones are concentrated along First Street, north of Fruitvale Boulevard between 16th and 40th avenues and west of the Yakima Air Terminal.
A moratorium on adult businesses has been in place since shortly after the court ruling. That is set to expire in January.
The City Council at its meeting Tuesday will be asked to set a Dec. 11 public hearing on the proposed changes to the ordinance.
Nobody offered testimony on the ordinance at a hearing held last week by the planning commission.
• Mark Morey can be reached at 509-577-7671 or firstname.lastname@example.org.