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S.F.S. delays decision on adult-use

SANTA FE SPRINGS, California – Planning commissioners delayed moving forward on an ordinance Monday that could make strip clubs and churches neighbors in Santa Fe Springs, saying they needed more time to research the matter.

The move came at the end of a regular Planning Commission meeting that drew about 50 people from the residential and faith community, most of them condemning the proposal.

“With this change … you are opening the door to negative elements to the people of this city,” said the Rev. Pedro Lopez, pastor at St. Pius X Catholic Church. “I strongly oppose what is being proposed, and I ask the commission to take their time,” he said.

Paul Ashworth, assistant to the director of planning and development, said the latest recommendation is an effort to regulate local adult businesses while complying with federal laws.

“Supreme Court requires that every city must provide a location for an adult use, and the location of churches in the \ zone was reducing the number of potential sites for adult uses,” Ashworth said.

Currently, areas within 500feet of elementary schools, residential areas and other adult businesses are protected from adult businesses moving in. But churches and religious institutions – previously included in that category – do not have to be.

That means two of Santa Fe Springs’ store-front churches – both of them in the Valley View Commerce Center – could be impacted if the proposal goes through.

“It seems like the Supreme Court has opened the doors to the adult industry in the city, but our beliefs call for us to want to close that door as much as we can,” said the Rev. Terry Risser, pastor of Florence Avenue Foursquare Church.

Although some congregations may feel threatened, adopting the new ordinance would be a small price to pay for a greater good, Ashworth said.

“Something has to give to make the amendments work,” he said, noting some limited areas into which adult businesses can move under the proposed ordinance.

Now the proposal won’t come to the City Council until after Oct. 9, when the commissioners meet again.

But if the ordinance is not addressed, Ashworth said, at risk is whether the city considered Supreme Court regulations, which could lead to further legal battles.

Santa Fe Springs officials recently served a “cease and desist” letter to Edwin Kwong, owner of Spicy Gentlemen’s Club along Slauson Avenue, for opening a restaurant-turned- strip club in a non-commercial zone.

Roger Diamond, [pictured] an adult- business attorney, said Kwong is the target of the latest zoning proposal.

“My client deeply respects churches and we don’t want to be near a church,” Diamond said.

“We plan to stay where we are but, if necessary, we’ll move next to a church if that’s where the city wants us.”

Ashworth denied that Monday’s agenda item was in response to Spicy’s.

He said there are “records that show” that officials considered the ordinance before Spicy’s came along.

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