- The B-Town (Burien) Blog - http://b-townblog.com -

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

by Ralph Nichols [1]

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.”

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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 [3]) 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 www.firstamendmentcenter.org [4]. “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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