Some people in a Lake Highlands were dismayed earlier this summer when a Hustler sex shop raised its “COMING SOON” banner at a property near the LBJ service road and Abrams Road.
A middle-class neighborhood in Dallas protesting an adult store isn't exactly shocking. More surprising is that the Dallas City Council might not legally be able to do anything about it.
That does not mean some haven’t tried. Council member Adam McGough, whose district would be home to the Hustler shop, has asked the city attorney to explore the business and audit its products to determine if it’s just a retail adult toys shop or a sexually oriented business.
That distinction is important, as far as Dallas zoning laws are concerned. Sexually oriented businesses are places where consumers go just for sex or to watch porn or live nudity, like a cabaret or adult motel. Sex shops like adult toy stores are not necessarily sexually oriented businesses.
And that’s a problem because, as McGough has said, Hustler has not been entirely forthcoming about its plans for the space; the company has only the banner out front (which also says the company is hiring). Hustler Hollywood comes from the company that brought the world the porno magazine Hustler. It has other stores around the country, and you can explore their inventories yourself. On your home computer.
“I still don’t know exactly what they’re going to do there,” McGough said of the space. If the shop is actually a sexually oriented business, McGough said, it’s too close to a residential area to be allowed under the law. “If it’s not, we need to make sure it doesn’t morph into a sexually oriented business.”
McGough said by phone Monday that he and his office were close to scheduling a meeting with the Hustler Hollywood. That meeting, McGough said, might come as soon as this week. McGough and his staff will try to assess the company’s business intentions. His staff member are trying to reach the owners of the building, but they've been unsuccessful so far. According to city documents, the building is owned by a trust fund that is based in Frisco.
A sexually oriented business answers to the Dallas police. As of now, the City Council has no real power over the regulation of these businesses. The police issue a license to the company so long as it meets the legal requirements. For example, the business must be more than 1,000 feet from public parks, schools, churches, and residential or historic districts. If the company meets the police standards, the public can do nothing more than be salty about it.
Kathy Steward, the executive director of the Lake Highlands Improvement District, says that’s what makes this situation so problematic: Some in the community feel they’re not in control of their own neighborhood.
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“We don’t have a protection here,” she says. “We don’t have the ability to determine where this type of business is located. This is a family-oriented part of town. [The Hustler store] needs to be somewhere else, in a more adult-oriented part of town.”
For McGough, a successful launch of the shop would be a slap in the face. He and others in the Lake Highlands area have been focused on putting a stop to panhandling and other crimes. He said a sexually oriented business might lead to a spike in crimes and give homeless people something lewd and nonproductive to do all day. He has other issues: sex trafficking, assaults, drugs.
“That’s what we are trying to guard against,” he says.
Hustler Hollywood did not respond to requests seeking comment.