Sex businesses harm your neighborhood

Most people would be alarmed over a toxic spill occurring up the river from them, but too many assume that sex businesses across town do not harm them. Research consistently confirms what the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized: that sex businesses can harm the entire community through negative secondary effects, such as increased crime, decreased property values and urban blight.

Sex businesses hurt retail sales

Researchers in Dallas found that the presence of sex businesses harms other businesses, by creating “‘dead zones’ in commercial areas where shoppers do not want to be associated in any way with adult uses or have their children walk by adult uses. …The public perception is that it is a place to be avoided by families with women and children.” 1

They harm property values

According to research conducted in Fort Worth, 95 percent of surveyed appraisers felt that sex businesses of any kind (stores, arcades or strip clubs) would decrease single-family home property values. More than 78 percent of the appraisers felt this negative impact extended more than 3,000 feet (approximately six blocks). Yet, even the toughest ordinances require just 1,000 feet between sexually oriented businesses and residential areas. 2

The Fort Worth study also found that 82 percent of appraisers felt that the presence of sex shops would decrease commercial property values. Nearly 60 percent of the appraisers felt their negative impact extended past 3,000 feet. 3

Research from Dallas found that an area with sex businesses suffered a 25 percent drop in property values compared with a control area.  4

They lead to an increase in crime

Numerous studies show that sexually oriented businesses are regional more than local attractions. That is, they bring in people who have no ties or accountability to the neighborhood. According to the Environmental Research Group, “This increases the porosity of the neighborhood to strangers and perpetrators, decreases informal social control of behavior, and increases the potential for opportunistic crime.” 5

Newport News, Va., officials discovered that areas with sex shops had 57 percent more police calls and 40 percent more crimes than a control area when adjusted for population differences. 6

Austin, Texas, found that sexually related crime ranged from 177 percent to 482 percent higher in four study areas with sex businesses than the city average. 7

The link between sex shops and crime is so clear that criminology expert Richard McCleary reported to the Los Angeles city attorney: “It is a scientific fact that [they] pose ambient crime risks” (italics in original).8

Clustering sex shops magnifies community risk

A study from Dallas found that “the higher the concentration of these businesses in one locale, the greater their impact on the neighborhood.” 9

Fort Worth also concluded, “The vast majority of appraisers agreed that a concentration or cluster of detrimental uses had a greater negative impact than isolated uses.” 10

Austin, Texas, found that in two study areas containing two sexually oriented businesses, the crime rate was 66 percent higher than in study areas with just one such business. 11

They are particularly bad for small towns

The Environmental Research Group reports that sexually oriented businesses tend to harm smaller communities more than larger cities “because of the more compact nature of downtowns and their relationship to surrounding neighborhoods.” 12

Conclusion

Research shows that when communities employ constitutionally sound zoning and licensing solutions, the negative impact of sex businesses is minimized.
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1 “An Analysis of the Effects of SOBs on the Surrounding Neighborhoods,” The Malin Group, April 29, 1997, http://www.communitydefense.org/cdcdocs/landuse/pdf/txdallas.pdf(February 4, 2011).
2 “Survey of Appraisers Fort Worth & Dallas: Effects of Land Uses on Surrounding Property Values,” Duncan Associates, September 2004, http://communitydefense.org/cdcdocs/landuse/pdf/texas_fortworth_2004.pdf
(February 4, 2011).
3 “Survey of Appraisers Fort Worth & Dallas” September 2004.
4 “An Analysis of the Effects of SOBs on the Surrounding Neighborhoods,” Peter Malin, April 29, 1997.
5 “Report to the American Center for Law and Justice on the Secondary Impacts of Sexually Oriented Businesses,” ERG/Environmental Research Group, March 31, 1996,http://www.communitydefense.org/cdcdocs/landuse/pdf/aclj.pdf(February 4, 2011).
6 “Adult Use Study,” Newport News Department of Planning and Development, March 1996, http://www.communitydefense.org/cdcdocs/landuse/pdf/vanewportnews.pdf (February 4, 2011).
7 “Report on Adult Oriented Businesses in Austin,” Office of Land Development Services, May 19, 1986, http://www.communitydefense.org/cdcdocs/landuse/pdf/txaustin.pdf(February 4, 2011).
8 Richard McCleary, “Crime-related Secondary Effects of Sexually-oriented Businesses: A Report to the City Attorney,” May 6, 2007, http://communitydefense.org/cdcdocs/landuse/pdf/california_losangeles_2007.pdf (February 4, 2011).
9 “An Analysis of the Effects of SOBs on the Surrounding Neighborhoods,” Peter Malin, April 29, 1997.
10 “Survey of Appraisers Fort Worth & Dallas” September 2004.
11 “Report on Adult Oriented Businesses in Austin,” Office of Land Development Services, May 19, 1986.
12 “Report to the American Center for Law and Justice,” ERG/Environmental Research Group, March 31, 1996.

Copyright © 2013, Daniel Weiss. All rights reserved. Used with permission.