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Mattawa revisits regulating adult entertainment

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | August 8, 2022 3:17 PM

MATTAWA — The regulation of adult entertainment in Mattawa was the topic of discussion at Thursday’s Mattawa City Council meeting.

“I think we need some kind of protection for the city,” Councilmember Wendy Lopez said. “Regardless, we’re still going to have problems, so I still think we need something in play. So we can take action if something happens.”

Thursday’s discussion followed a previous conversation at the July 21 council meeting, after city officials learned that a local business had hosted performances of an adult nature.

City attorney Kathryn Kenison said the question of adult entertainment has been extensively adjudicated, and cities can’t prohibit it. It can, however, be regulated.

Lopez said she felt the regulation was a good idea.

Lopez is the manager of a facility for temporary workers. She said some of the guest workers have taken in some of the shows put on by local businesses. She said previous events have caused disturbances in the community after the shows are over.

“(The audience) may be calm there, but when they go home it’s completely different,” she said.

She cited the example of people who walk to the venues, up Government Road from the intersection at State Route 28.

“They’re starting fights before they get to the roundabout,” she said. “I really do think we need something in place to protect our other citizens.”

Kenison said city officials have the right to establish zoning standards to regulate where businesses locate and can add requirements to an establishment’s business license. Those licensing requirements must be very specific, she said.

Councilmember Sun Hwang said he was concerned about businesses being adjacent to residential areas because Mattawa doesn’t really have a separation between business and residential areas.

Kenison recommended a review of the city’s zoning regulations.

“What those zones currently allow, and where those zones are located in relationship to other developed uses,” Kenison said. “Then you will have a better idea of where and in what zones you might want to permit these uses. Or alternatively, restrict these uses or place conditions on their location.”

In answer to a question from Councilmember Brian Berghout, Kenison said she would recommend charging a fee for the licenses since processing and regulation will be an expense to the city.

“What we’ve had here have been events,” said Councilmember Tony Acosta. “How does that differ from (current regulations) for events?”

Kenison said she was assuming the performances held to date were at already-established businesses.

“So that business, if they wanted to have adult entertainment as part of their business operation, they would have to apply for the business license,” she said.

Kenison said requiring a license would allow city officials to monitor building capacity, check for adequate fire exits and enforce other safety and security measures.

Acosta suggested council members study a similar Moses Lake ordinance, and other information, then come back with items they want to discuss in more detail.

“It sounds like we’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Acosta said.

Cheryl Schweizer may be reached at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com. Her work is also available via the Columbia Basin Herald app - available on Apple and Android devices.

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