City wins long battle over adult video stores

By Adam Pincus | March 30, 2010 07:40PM

The city won a ruling yesterday strengthening its ability to regulate adult video, theater and bookstores following an eight-year battle pitting the city against establishments claiming their free speech rights were being infringed upon.

The decision found that a number of adult video stores and theaters that supposedly operated with less than 40 percent of their space for adult uses in fact displayed adult products in more space, and were predominantly adult establishments, the city’s Law Department, which handled the case, said in a statement.

Two video stores mentioned in the decision as being possibly in
violation of the  law Include Amsterdam Video at 287 Amsterdam Avenue
at 74th Street and Blue Door Video at 87 First Avenue at 5th Street.
Employees at each location said they were not familiar with the lawsuit
and declined to comment.

“It is obvious to community residents and the city alike that many of these so-called ’60/40′ establishments are shams created by adult businesses in an attempt to avoid complying with the law,” the city’s criminal justice coordinator John Feinblatt said in the statement.

Gabriel Taussig, chief of the Law Department’s Administrative Law Division, said of the approximately 125 establishments that claimed to operate under the 60/40 rules, about 80 were bookstores and theaters. And of those “the vast majority are operating on a sham basis,” he said.

The Ruling Yesterday By State Supreme Court Justice Louis York only covers book and video stores and does not impact a related case over strip clubs known as Ten’s Cabaret, which has yet to be decided.

For the People Theaters sued the city in the fall of 2002, challenging zoning changes that took effect in 2001 tightening the 60/40 regulations.

Under the 2001 law, stores with more than 40 percent of the floor space or merchandise for adult uses were prohibited in residential neighborhoods, and yesterday’s decision supports that interpretation.