Alarm Over Zoning For Adult Entertainment In NERA Called ‘Non-Issue’

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by Ralph Nichols

An apparent misreading of the limits placed by the Burien Municipal Code (BMC) on where adult entertainment businesses can locate within the city has raised alarm among some community residents.

As you can see below, the BMC states: “An adult entertainment facility shall only be located in the Industrial [I] and Airport Industrial [AI] zones.”

Click image to see larger version.

With one exception – the Highline School District bus facility near Des Moines Memorial Dr., S. 8th Ave. and SR 509 – the only industrial/airport industrial zones in Burien are in the Northeast Development Area (NERA) north of Sea-Tac International Airport.

Yet The B-Town Blog has received complaints suggesting the zoning restriction says adult entertainment facilities “shall be located” in the NERA – something, worry a few citizens, that means the city must have adult entertainment there.

Not only is such phrasing in the BMC non-existent, Burien Community Development Director Scott Greenberg said the restriction on adult entertainment facility location is in response to U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

The court has ruled in several cases that “the First Amendment protects many forms of controversial speech and expression,” notes First Amendment scholar David L. Hudson Jr. at “Protected expression” includes pornography and nude dancing.

While those decisions mandate that cities cannot ban adult entertainment facilities, cities are permitted to restrict their location through local zoning laws. Most cities limit them to industrial-zoned areas.

When Burien incorporated in 1993, the city continued using King County zoning designations. Then, in 2000, council members adopted the city’s own zoning regulations, Greenberg said.

“In 2003, when we created NERA, we had to add a new zoning designation that is now renamed Airport Industrial [AI],” he continued. “But the affected pieces of property have not changed.”

Restrictions on adult entertainment facilities prevent them from locating near schools, buildings for religious worship, single and multi-family homes, recreation facilities, community centers and public libraries, and other areas of general activity.

In addition, two or more adult businesses must be separated by 1,000 feet “so you couldn’t have several of them grouped together.

“In the 10 years that I’ve been here, we’ve had no applications and no proposals” for an adult entertainment facility in Burien,” Greenberg added.

“It’s not like it was when those things would pop up all over the place. It’s a non-issue at this time.”

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5 Responses to “Alarm Over Zoning For Adult Entertainment In NERA Called ‘Non-Issue’”
  1. Stephen Lamphear says:

    About 10 years ago when the city of Burien finally complied with the First Amendment as state by the US Supreme Court and provided zoning for adult entertainment, there was noise from the shocked. One fellow in the back of the room shouted “it’s about time we got SOME kind of entertainment in Burien.”

    What hell and damnation has happened since that action to obey the law of the land? Are there any adult entertainment establishments in Burien?

  2. John Elliott says:

    Yea I can see the rush is on Stephen? I’m just trying to figure out why whomever that was couldn’t find any entertainment in Burien. I don’t have any problem with keeping busy and having fun in Burien. And I don’t have to stoop to going to adult entertainment venues to do so. If you need that in my opinion, then move on down the road to another city who does have it.

  3. TcB says:

    Well I don’t think that there should be a strip club on 152nd but I don’t mind if it’s in an industrial zone. I’m not a prude. It’s a legal establishment and it’s a money maker for taxes that pay for things. People of all stripes live in Burien. If you think Adult business can be located nowhere at all in Burien, not even industrial zones where it’s nowhere near a school or something, Who are you to judge, just because you find sex distasteful? I feel sorry for you.

  4. Thom Grey says:

    Duh Ralph Nichols dude,
    So like this Greenberg dude is saying that the adult enterainment joints can’t be over at the corner where the old Red Apple used to be on 152nd and DesMoines Way? i think they can be there.
    That seems pretty close to all of the kiddies at the high school and Moshier Field and that walking park space and that old school-sunnydale. Duh, as i recall that is darn close to a slug of multi-family living units with loads of kids. So how far does the Greenberg dude say these places need to stay away from the neighborhood kiddies?
    That fact wasn’t included in your article here. And will the city of Burien be in control of what happens there or our big time buddy, the Port?

  5. Lee Moyer says:

    Actually, if one were to read the posted code and presume it is to be read in correct English, it does not restrict where one of these dens of evil can be located at all. What it says is that in the industrial zones all the adult entertainment facility can do is be located (as opposed to travel around, I guess. I didn’t write the code.) It they want to restrict the location to these areas, the code should read “… be located only in …”.
    I’d suggest one should be next to City Hall or in some of that vacant space under the condos,

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