Wapato — Strip clubs will be heavily regulated in this rural Lower Valley town.
On Monday night, the Wapato City Council approved two ordinances one that doesnt allow strip clubs within 500 feet of schools, churches and parks, and another that requires owners of such businesses and their employees to acquire adult entertainment licenses from the city.
Previously, the council was set to choose between the two ordinances one focusing on zoning and the other on licenses but decided to adopt them both, said Mayor Jesse Farias.
In addition, the council modified the zoning ordinance to allow strip clubs within 500 feet of school, parks, and churches rather than the 1,000-foot limit that was in the original draft.
Farias said the council reduced the distance to mirror the state liquor laws.
They thought it was more fair and that it was more aligned with the (state) Liquor Control Board, he said.
Under the licensing ordinance, business owners and their employees must have clean backgrounds to acquire an adult entertainment license, which also require a certain distance between dancers and patrons. Such a license will cost business owners $1,000 and each employee $100 a year, according to the ordinance.
State law regards topless dancing as a form of expression and protects such businesses from being zoned out of existence. The 1,000-foot requirement in Wapatos original ordinance would have left no room in this 1.78-square-mile city for a strip club.
Farias said the council began looking at drafting laws governing adult entertainment after the owner of Martinez Sports Bar said he wanted to start a strip club.
Farias said he didnt have an opinion on whether such businesses should operate in such a small city.
As long as they follow the ordinance that has been enacted, he said.