A Pierce County Council committee made a recommendation Monday to tighten regulations so that sexually explicit DVDs can't be sold with adult magazines or by themselves in convenience stores.
The changes recommended by Councilman Jim McCune also require that sexually explicit magazines be displayed behind sales counters or in locked display cases.
Pat Burgess, McCune’s sister and president of Concerned Citizens of Pierce County, had filed complaints with the county early this year about stores in the Parkland, Spanaway and Graham areas selling “porn magazines with videos” or having a “big porn video and magazine/video section.”
Those complaints — which found adult DVDs were being sold in bundles with magazines — prompted McCune to propose clarifying and revising county code.
The section of code, written in 1998, doesn’t address the bundling of adult DVDs and magazines.
It also doesn’t prohibit the sale of adult DVDs and videos in convenience stores as long as those items don’t make up the predominant business of those stores. At that point, they would be classified as adult book stores, which would be subject to different zoning and age restrictions for customers.
The code also currently allows convenience stores to sell adult magazines in a single 4-by-5 foot rack, provided none of the magazine that depicts “specified sexual activities” or “specified anatomical areas” is visible.
Burgess told the council committee Monday that county residents “are being exposed to extremely hardcore, violent DVDs and magazines.”
She lashed out at purveyors of pornography, including store owners.
“These people are the scum of our society because they are making money for their higher lifestyle on the backs of women and children,” said Burgess, the only member of the public who commented.
She said council members have a duty to protect the community from sexually oriented businesses and their impacts.
“It needs to stop,” Burgess said. “It’s been going on for years.”
The council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee voted 3-0 Monday to forward the resolution to the full council with a “do pass” recommendation. Voting yes were McCune, R-Graham; Connie Ladenburg, D-Tacoma; and Joyce McDonald, R-Puyallup.
The full County Council is expected to vote on the proposal in about three weeks. If approved then, the changes wouldn’t advance for final council approval to become law until next summer.
Council analyst Hugh Taylor said the current code attempts to accommodate First Amendment expression while keeping sales of adult materials from growing to the point they hurt property values.
McDonald she doesn’t believe that pornography should be sold at all in neighborhood convenience stores where children go to buy Popsicles and bubblegum.
She said she hopes with new restrictions, the county’s Planning & Land Services “could help uphold our community standards and help protect our families and our children from the blight that is ongoing.”
McCune decried violent, destructive material in videos being sold in stores. His proposed changes, he said, are long overdue.
“It’s continually getting worse,” he said. “It’s very bad stuff.”