Adult Operations in Phoenix Prompting Inquiries

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Phoenix- from – The Town of Paradise Valley is actively investigating the possibility that explicit filmmaking — done as a commercial business — is occurring within municipal boundaries in violation of existing local home-business provisions, Town Attorney Andrew Miller said Nov. 15.

The recent discovery of two adult-entertainment filmmaking operations within the Town of Paradise Valley may also prove to be a catalyst for officials to revise permit fees and change the way films in general are regulated by the municipality.

The subject of adult films made in the Town of Paradise Valley was first brought up publicly at the Nov. 1 Paradise Valley Town Council meeting.

Apparently, police have been made aware of two adult-film operations filming at Paradise Valley residential properties.

According to police, one of the filmmakers is now charging subscriptions for its service.

The focus of the town investigation revolves around the film operation that may be generating revenue through website subscriptions, Mr. Miller says.

“I don’t have much I can tell you,” he said at Town Hall Nov. 15 of the ongoing investigation.

No action has yet to be taken by the municipality and no action is expected until after the first of the year, Mr. Miller contends.

Embedded within town code are stipulations regulating special-event permits, including filming permits. The cost to shoot a film in Paradise Valley is $750, according to town code.

While no action has been taken by the municipality against the two property owners or filmmakers, the cost and scrutiny of local film operations may be headed for a major overhaul, members of town council say.

“I gave Chief (John) Bennett a couple of addresses that were running businesses (out of a home),” Paradise Valley Councilwoman Lisa Trueblood said in a Nov. 8 phone interview. “He reported back to me that it was not criminal activity, so there wasn’t anything they could do.”

Councilwoman Trueblood says she originally brought the issue to Paradise Valley police “probably a year ago, maybe less.”

Because neither location was defined as a business, the filming was not in violation of town code, Councilwoman Trueblood says.

“I was told two times that there was nothing anyone could do about it,” she said of her recent conversations with police officials.

“They weren’t selling anything, but they are in fact now selling memberships to a website, so they are a business,” contends Councilwoman Trueblood.

According to town code, a business permit is required if commerce occurs at a residential property in Paradise Valley.

“The issue for me, is what do we do about town code?” she asked. “We are going to have a 40-minute discussion on charities — but not on this?

“The question at hand now, is why didn’t anyone come in and get a film permit?”

Paradise Valley Police Chief John Bennett says the First Amendment protects products created by the adult entertainment industry.

“For things like this, we really don’t get involved,” he said in a Nov. 7 phone interview. “As far as this goes there is no criminal activity — it is more of a civil matter.”

Whereas the current town code requires a fee for a filming permit, Paradise Valley officials say the code does not differentiate between the types of filmmaking allowed within municipal limits.

“It doesn’t matter if it is a commercial or a Hollywood blockbuster production, we look at all applications without regard to who is applying for them,” Eva Cutro, Paradise Valley community development director, said in a Nov. 7 phone interview.

According to Ms. Cutro, the town has not received a request for a permit fitting the description of the type of film in question.

“It is more in the narrative,” she said of identifying who is filming what within Paradise Valley town limits. “It depends on that review if they are approved.”

Paradise Valley Councilman Dan Schweiker says on the topic of explicit filmmaking in Paradise Valley: “We just don’t know about them.”

New permit requirements — and perhaps the regulating of what sort of films can and cannot be made within town limits — may emerge sooner rather than later, Councilman Schweiker contends.

“What we are talking about is if there is going to be regulations then we need to look at it a little more than just needing a permit,” he said in a Nov. 6 phone interview.

“We need to get a handle on that kind of stuff (explicit filmmaking) … I am a believer that if you have rules and regulations, either don’t have them in the book or enforce them.”

Councilman Schweiker says explicit filmmaking as a business in Paradise Valley is news to him and others on the local governing board.

“I don’t even know what the options are,” he said. “It is obviously something that we are going to look into.”

But the First Amendment provides certain protections, Councilman Schweiker says.

“I don’t know if we know how much we would differentiate between the types of filming — to prohibit any pornographic productions,” he explained. “I don’t know what the limits of free speech are. I just don’t know what our legal parameters are. What we can and cannot prohibit.”

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