In a striking victory for the adult entertainment industry, a divided New Orleans City Council shot down a proposal Thursday to cap the number of Bourbon Street strip clubs, putting an end for now to a long-running debate over how to best regulate the venues.
The council voted 4-3 against the limit after hearing from numerous dancers who called a recent crackdown on the clubs — including police raids — a threat to their livelihoods and their freedom of expression.
The measure, sponsored by Councilwoman Stacy Head, would have limited the number of strip clubs allowed to operate along a seven-block stretch of Bourbon to the present 12. A new club could have opened if one of the 12 closed.
There would have been no cap on the number of clubs allowed in any single block, something officials had considered.
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Head argued that the limit was no more than a routine move to rein in some of the excesses associated with crowded, high-traffic businesses, rather than an attack on adult entertainment as a whole. At one point she likened the clubs to a slew of fast-food restaurants.
She won the support of Councilwomen Susan Guidry and LaToya Cantrell, the city’s mayor-elect. But Jared Brossett, James Gray, Nadine Ramsey and Jason Williams voted against it.
Williams said he couldn’t support the move because of what he felt was an overly aggressive approach to the clubs recently by law enforcement, and because it would do nothing to address other businesses, such as massage parlors, where human trafficking also has been alleged to occur.
“If we are looking at human trafficking, (massage parlors) should be a part of the discussion and the study,” Williams said.
Read the full story at TheAdvocate.com.