The Dallas City Council voted unanimously to shut down strip clubs and sexually oriented businesses late at night, from 2 to 6 am, in an effort to reduce violent crime, even though they know it will result in a lawsuit.
The ordinance came from Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia, who said those hours from 2-6 am are when police and fire departments are most likely to get calls.
Dallas has 27 licensed strip clubs and other sexually oriented businesses, 20 of which close after 2 am on some nights.
Dozens of workers at the clubs came to plead their case, from managers to door people to bouncers, stating that they work those late hours to facilitate child care and pay for college, and that this change would create a financial hardship.
The vote took place at the city council meeting on January 26. Some council members including Chad West, Omar Narvaez, and Jaime Resendez objected to the way the ordinance was executed, calling it rushed.
"We've had this ordinance in motion less than two months without considering the legal implications, or the practical implications for these businesses," West said.
Narvaez said they should have created a task force as they have for every other industry such as scooters and banks.
"We bring in industry leaders to work with us and come up with common sense strategies, why not this time?" he said.
"I apologize to all you industry workers right now, I didn't do enough — I was tired of being scrutinized for having asked questions about some of the most vulnerable people in our city; 75 percent of the employees in this industry are women," Narvaez said. "This process was flawed, it was too fast, with data that was debunked. This industry was an easy target because of our quote-unquote morals. Crime is going to happen. I call code about underground illegal clubs and gambling constantly, and haven't been able to get anything done or taken care of."
The ordinance was originally presented to the Quality of Life Committee, then brought to the city council by Adam Bazaldua.
"I believe policy decisions are sometimes hard to make," Bazaldua said. "Sometimes sausage-making is not so pretty." Yes, a sausage metaphor in a debate about sexually oriented businesses. Also, policy decisions are hard. Sometimes.
West introduced an amendment which would establish an appeal process for businesses who meet a standard of good behavior, but it got quickly voted down.
"There have got to be some good SOBs across out there — businesses that fall within this blanket ordinance that could be comparable to a Whataburger or other business that's open 24 hours," West said.
But council member Cara Mendelsohn said that an appeal process would only complicate an already complicated legal situation that the city is facing.
"We've already been told there's a lawsuit coming," she said.