City Hall

Dallas Considers Restriction on Hours of Operation for Sexually Oriented Businesses

One exotic dancer named Amada Man sued Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in July over the new age restriction for employees at sexually oriented businesses.
One exotic dancer named Amada Man sued Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in July over the new age restriction for employees at sexually oriented businesses. Eric Nopanen/ Unsplash
Dallas has to bring its city code in compliance with a state law that requires employees at sexually oriented businesses to be 21 or older, and city officials are simultaneously considering restricting the hours strip  clubs and adult sex stores can be open.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 315 in May, raising the minimum age for employees at sexually oriented businesses in Texas from 18 to 21. The bill took effect immediately upon the governor’s signature, so some employees were let go in the middle of their shifts.

The City Council's Quality of Life, Arts and Culture Committee discussed the potential change at a meeting on Monday. City Council member Adam Bazaldua, the chair of the committee, requested it be put on the agenda, citing similar restrictions in other Texas cities.

In Plano, sexually oriented businesses must be closed between 2 a.m. and 10 a.m. Fort Worth has a similar restriction Sunday through Thursday with exceptions for the weekends and sexually oriented businesses with a “food establishment permit.” There are no restrictions on the hours of operation in Dallas.

“This is to address being able to better regulate hours of operation for businesses that we have seen have criminal activity and where it’s been most prominent and there’s data to support that with the presentation,” Bazaldua said.

City Council member Omar Narvaez said he’s waiting on more information before making a decision on the change, but he wanted to make sure these businesses and the people they employ aren’t being victimized.

“Sex work is not anything that any of us should be looking at as derogatory or something that’s shameful,” Narvaez said.

He’s still waiting on more data.

“I hope that you all will have as much data, as much information as possible, because we cannot be targeting a business simply for our moral issues or what we think is an easy win when it comes to doing something as a city,” Narvaez said. “I just want to make sure that’s clear and make sure the sex workers out there know that you have an advocate. I know it’s probably not the most popular side to be on, but these folks should be treated with dignity, respect and not shamed in any way, shape or form.”

Bazaldua said that the ordinance change is not meant to be demoralizing. He said it’s about public safety and health.

“My mom always said nothing good happens after midnight and I’m sure nothing good happens after 2 a.m." – Paula Blackmon, City Council

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SB 315, which is now the subject of a lawsuit, didn’t carve out an exception for adult retail stores or contract workers who may be employed by these businesses but don’t do anything sexual in nature, such as security guards. So, these workers were also let go when Abbott signed the bill.

Bazaldua wants city staff to look into the possibility of different classifications of sexually oriented businesses, so these distinctions can be made. “I do want to make sure we are not impeding any establishment that is purely retail from being able to operate if they have a 24-hour model,” he said.

Bazaldua added that some adult video stores are beyond retail, allowing customers to bring their own alcohol and rent rooms. “DPD will also bring from their vice unit some substantiated evidence that these locations have been known and have been a big part of contributing to human trafficking, especially in these late hours,” Bazaldua said.

Council member Paula Blackmon asked staff to also include information on legal challenges this change may pose for the city. She wants to see more data, but is generally supportive of imposing hours of operation on these businesses.

“My mom always said nothing good happens after midnight and I’m sure nothing good happens after 2 a.m.,” she said. “If anything, it’s a time to clean the establishment.”

City staff said the Dallas Police Department will tell the committee what hours it thinks would be appropriate for these businesses and why at a meeting next month.
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn