Politics & Government

Pierce County councilman wants stricter regulation of adult magazines, DVDs

Pierce County Councilman Jim McCune is proposing to tighten regulations so that sexually explicit DVDs can’t be sold with adult magazines or by themselves in convenience stores.

The changes also would require that sexually explicit magazines be displayed behind sales counters or in locked display cases.

McCune, R-Graham, said he had the revisions crafted after a group called Concerned Citizens of Pierce County found that adult DVDs were being sold in bundles with magazines.

“Nobody’s following the rules,” McCune said. “It hasn’t been enforced.”

Pat Burgess, McCune’s sister and chairwoman of Concerned Citizens of Pierce County, filed a group of nine complaints with the county in February, primarily about convenience stores in the Parkland, Spanaway and Graham areas.

The complaints, obtained by The News Tribune through a public records request, cited instances of the stores selling “porn magazines with video” or having “big porn video and magazine/video section.”

Planning and Land Services director Dennis Hanberg said he wasn’t aware that adult magazines and DVDs were being sold together until the complaints were made. The department handles such matters because it deals with land-use issues.

County code doesn’t currently address the bundling of adult DVDs and magazines in convenience stores.

It also does not prohibit the sale of adult DVDs and videos in convenience stores when adult items don’t make up the predominant business of those stores, said Melanie Halsan, with Planning and Land Services.

Otherwise, the stores would fall under the category of adult businesses, which are allowed in limited areas and require the granting of a conditional use permit.

Code enforcement workers visited the nine sites named in the Concerned Citizens complaints and none was in violation of the code as currently written, said Yvonne Reed, code enforcement supervisor.

Compliance workers couldn’t ask store employees to stop selling the bundled DVDs and magazines because the code doesn’t address that practice, Reed said.

“Because the code is silent, I felt I couldn’t start pulling those (magazines) off the shelf because they had a DVD in them,” Hanberg said. “That’s not something that was even a possibility 16 years ago when this was written.”

County code 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.

McCune’s proposal would prohibit adult DVDs and videos from being sold together with adult magazines in convenience stores. Adult magazines could be sold in 4-by-5-foot racks behind the sales counter or in a locked display case.

It also would prohibit the sale of adult DVDs and videos by themselves in convenience stores.

McCune’s proposal is expected to be reviewed in October by the council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee, of which McCune is chairman. It would decide whether to recommend it to the County Council.

The proposed resolution directs the Planning and Land Services department to make recommendations to the county’s Planning Commission by Dec. 1. That panel would study the proposal before sending it to the County Council for final action.

Council analyst Hugh Taylor said the Planning Commission wouldn’t report back to the council until May. Final action might not take place until next summer.

McCune said he sees no reason for delaying action that long.

He said pornography can lead to addiction, prostitution and ultimately human trafficking.

“Community standards on pornography are important to have,” he said.

McCune said it’s not a conflict of interest for him to be sponsoring legislation prompted in part by complaints submitted by his sister.

“She’s still a citizen of Pierce County,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a conflict at all.”

Council attorney Susan Long said McCune isn’t violating the county’s ethics and conflict of interest codes because he’s not using his office to financially benefit an immediate family member.

“She may have filed the complaint on behalf of that group,” Long said. “He can act to respond to his constituents.”

Burgess, who lives in Graham, could not be reached for comment.

McCune said he is working on three other proposals related to adult business regulations.

Two involve strip clubs. One would require adult dancers to watch a video on human sex trafficking and receive information on what conduct is legal when dancing.

The other would prohibit a liquor license being issued for any business within 1,000 feet of a strip club or on the same parcel as a club.

DreamGirls at Fox’s in Parkland — the only strip club in unincorporated Pierce County — would be grandfathered as would the sports bar Pole Position, which opened next to Fox’s this year.

McCune said he also will propose an ordinance regulating bikini barista stands. Details have not been released.

The measure would revise a proposal McCune developed early this year and then nixed as premature. It would have required scantily clad baristas to obtain the same license and undergo the same background check as adult dancers at strip clubs.