Saturday, July 10, 2010

Adult Entertainment

In an interesting new case, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Miami has held that online adult entertainment is a violation of the Miami zoning ordinance. Essentially, the plaintiff webcasts men living in a residence in Miami performing sex acts. There are no outdoor cameras, the address is not released by the plaintiff and in all other aspects, the home appears as a residential dwelling. The men are paid, and live at the home.

The 11th Circuit in Flava Works Inc v City of Miami, 2010 WL 2539759 (11th Cir. June 2010) held that this is a business enterprise operated in violation of the zoning ordinance, notwithstanding its earlier decision in Voyeur Dorm, L.C. v. City of Tampa, 265 F.3d 1232 (2001). The Court distinguished the earlier holding by saying that the decision there was that the activities were not "adult entertainment establishments" since there were no secondary impacts such as relied upon in most cases permitting zoning regulation of adult locations.

The issue however in the current case was whether the use was a business (adult entertainment or not) and clearly, it is a part of the business of Flava Works. As a result the business use in a residential district is illegal under the terms of the zoning ordinance.

Of course, no on has any sympathy for these types of uses, but one might ask if the only impact on the surrounding land uses is residential, what has really changed from the earlier case? The real issue is the impact on surrounding land uses. If the use of the subject property externally is no different than an ordinary residence, why can zoning regulate it whether a business or not? The whole point of zoning is to reduce external impacts; there were none or very few here. Why is it illegal? Maybe just because the use is so repugnant to most people.

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