City Planning Commission Public CommentENCOUNTERING JESUS, WITNESSING WITH JOY

New Orleans City Planning Commission Update on the Adult Live Performance Venues Study...

These Adult Performance Venues (strip clubs) are not only an affront to the dignity of the person, they are also notoriously connected with criminal activity such as violence, drugs, & human trafficking.

On Tuesday September 13 the City Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend the Adult Live Entertainment Venues study to the City Council!  Thank you to all who spoke, wrote letters, & prayed on behalf of this motion... Watch for more updates soon!    

For more details about this & previous actions related to the Adult Live Performance Venues Study, visit the City Planning Commission study page.

City Planning Commission Office
1300 Perdido St, 7th Floor
One Stop Shop
New Orleans, LA 70112  

Covenant House of New Orleans has a handy tutorial on this issue (PLEASE SHARE!)...

We would like to thank the City Council and the City Planning Commission for their recent efforts to study “Adult Live Entertainment Venues in the City of New Orleans.”


We are concerned:


In October 2015, law enforcement found drug dealing and prostitution taking place in 9 out of 14 New Orleans’ strip clubs in an undercover investigation. Drug dealing and prostitution (male and female) are also known to take place in other kinds of clubs and venues.
New Orleans is considered a major hub for human sex trafficking by national law enforcement and human trafficking experts (including the Polaris Project).
A Loyola study estimates 87 Covenant House residents per year are survivors of human trafficking, increasing to 150 residents per year if the sex industry and strip clubs are included.
According to recent lawsuits, and as reported by the Wall Street Journal and the Time Picayune, dancers in strip clubs are often hired as independent contractors and forced to share tips. They are constantly sexually harassed, and work in environments that are neither safe nor crime free.
A Johns Hopkins study, in Baltimore, found 43% of dancers sold sex at strip clubs. The majority of dancers reported selling sex and drugs for the first time after beginning to dance at the clubs.
A University of Louisville study found violent crime rates, in Louisville, to be 12.3 times higher within 500 feet of a sexually oriented business (strip club, massage parlor,…), and 8.3 times higher within 1000 feet.

 

We believe:


The French Quarter’s strip clubs have led to an increase in overall crime including violence, prostitution, lewd acts, and drug dealing – and therefore do not promote the public health, welfare, and safety of our City. 
As we approach our 300th anniversary, the strip clubs’ affiliated crimes and negative reputations are completely out of sync with marketing New Orleans as a world-class destination.
The number of strip clubs in our City should over time be reduced by at least 65%.
All of our citizens should be treated with dignity and respect – and should not be exploited.


We recommend:


The laws and ordinances associated with strip clubs’ liquor licenses/permits should be strictly and regularly enforced in each establishment including the V.I.P. rooms.
A special tax/fee should be levied on the strip clubs to pay for increased and dedicated law enforcement (NOPD, ATC and State Police) on Bourbon Street, and for weekly inspections of the clubs. 
Strip clubs as business enterprises should have a particular set of rules, regulations, performance and safety standards (as adult live entertainment venues) which are regulated by the City.
In accord with the Federal Labors Standards Act, dancers should be hired as regular employees with standard benefits, and should be provided a safe, crime free environment to work.
Any new strip club or any strip club seeking to re-open should not be permitted outside of the “adult live performance venue IZD” or within 1000 feet of current residences, schools or parks.

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Recently, Fr. Frank Reale, SJ, pastor at Immaculate Conception Church included the following announcement in his parish's weekly bulletin (below).  Thank you for speaking out in defense of LIFE, Fr. Frank! 

An invitation to act on behalf of life
 
A sad reality of our city is the proliferation of strip clubs which are thinly-disguised fronts for illegitimate and immoral activities, including violence, prostitution, lewd acts and drug dealing.  In an undercover investigation last fall, law enforcement found drug dealing and prostitution taking place in 9 out of 14 New Orleans strip clubs.  A further sad reality of our city is that New Orleans is a major hub for human sex trafficking and prostitution (both male and female).  These are not unrelated phenomena.  Strip clubs are all about greed.  Often they are part of multi-state enterprises with powerful (political) lobbying resources.  They are not legitimate businesses, nor do they represent the kind of tourist sites of which our city can be proud.  No one can seriously contend that in any way they promote the public health, welfare or safety of our city. Their well-deserved reputation as venues for crime and sleazy sex should be recognized as inconsistent with a city which markets itself as a world-class destination.  
 
Needless to say, it is impossible to reconcile the activities which take place in them with God’s own perspective on human dignity and sexuality.   Such establishments - and I would include in this category the “spas” which are open through the night and into the early morning, one of which is located within a few yards of our church - are an affront to the dignity of the person, to the beauty of chastity, and to the gift of committed love.   
 
Recently, state legislators have considered bills that would in a small but significant way chip away at this offense against the common good.  And, the New Orleans City Council and City Planning Commission are currently engaged in an effort to study “Adult Live Entertainment Venues in the City of New Orleans.”  Under consideration at the current time is the adoption of regulations which would prohibit anyone under the age of 21 from being hired as a dancer at a strip club.  (It is my understanding that elected officials compromised an earlier proposal which would have said that no one under the age of 21 could be employed in any capacity at such a club.)  
 
We should not deceive ourselves into thinking that the legislation under consideration simply reflects some kind of “moral crusade” which wants to curtail the freedom of adults to choose their form of entertainment.  Real people are being victimized.  According to recent lawsuits, and as reported by the Times Picayune, dancers in strip clubs are often hired as independent contractors and forced to share tips.  They are constantly sexually harassed in work environments which are neither safe nor crime free.  Covenant House New Orleans, which was founded 30 years ago on the edge of the French Quarter to provide a safe haven for homeless, runaway and at-risk youth (ages 22 and under), reports that a significant percentage of the young people it helps each year are survivors of human trafficking, many having worked in strip clubs and other manifestations of the sex industry.  
 
Recently, Archbishop Aymond has written the New Orleans City Planning Commission, applauding the decision to undertake the above-mentioned study.  Please add your voice to his own.  A simple letter of support for the study with an expression of concern as to why strip clubs are not good for New Orleans is sufficient.  The letter should be sent to: City Planning Commission Office, 1300 Perdido Street, 7th Floor, New Orleans, LA  70112.  Please note that the deadline for public comment on this is June 20th.  And please consider contacting Mayor Mitch Landrieu to seek his full, public and repeated support for measures which will make our city less a haven for abuses against human dignity.  
 
Thank you for considering a response to this evil in our midst.
 
 
 Frank Reale, SJ
 
Pastor
Immaculate Conception
 
P.S. Go to http://www.nola.gov/city-planning/major-studies-and-projects/adult-live-performance-venue-study/ for a synopsis of what is taking place now with the study.