Say No to Smut, Booze, Sluts and Thugs; Don't Cut Red Tape for Red-Light District in D.C

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 25, 2007 | Go to article overview

Say No to Smut, Booze, Sluts and Thugs; Don't Cut Red Tape for Red-Light District in D.C


Byline: Deborah Simmons, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

I've been called a "homophobe," a "hater" and worse because I oppose the D.C. legislative proposition that would grant special permission for nude bars and their nefarious constituencies to set up shop in the section of the city where I live, work and, on occasion, worship. My personal arguments don't stand on sexual preferences or gender. They stand on the merits of quality of life in the nation's capital.

Here's the issue, without bogging you, the reader, down in minutiae or hysterics: The D.C. government is building a baseball stadium in an area where eight establishments that catered to homosexuals were located; the businesses were displaced; in search of new homes, several have set their sights on the New York Avenue corridor, which is the gateway to the capital. But the D.C. liquor board ruled against one of the clubs that applied for a license along the corridor; now a D.C. lawmaker is entertaining legislation that would give "special" permission for these businesses to relocate along the corridor. Residents argue that crime and violence will flourish in a red-light district.

Zoning laws, alcohol laws and quality-of-life issues are incredibly intertwined regardless of where one lives - and even more so in a city like Washington, where our 68 square miles are set in centuries-old stone. We have no where to grow.

The legislation that is under consideration is the One-Time Relocation of Licensees Displaced by the Ballpark and Skyland Development Project Amendment Act of 2007. It would exempt several adult-oriented establishments from having to follow the rules, regulations and laws that other businesses do when re-establishing themselves. It specifically would allow at least four displaced clubs that cater to homosexuals to relocate within blocks of each other.

Proponents of the special treatment for this special-interest industry claim City Hall is obligated to them because City Hall's actions (i.e. giving the stadium project the go-ahead) led to the displacements. The latter is correct. Had the D.C. Council not approved then-Mayor Tony Williams' proposal to build a stadium off Capitol Hill, on the banks of the Anacostia, those businesses would presumably still be in business.

As for the argument that City Hall is obligated? Hogwash. Proponents are essentially seeking legal reparations. They claim the businesses were chased to the river's edge in the 1970s by the police chief. In fact, the police chief at that time, Jerry Wilson, was standing tall and following the orders of business leaders, clergy, taxpayers and other law-abiding stakeholders who were sick and tired of being sick and tired about the red-light districts. …

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