Should Reno’s Strip Clubs Be Forced to Relocate?

In an effort to clean up and re-develop downtown, last year, the Reno city council gave staff direction to review issues surrounding adult businesses in the area.

This includes retail stores but mainly involves four strip clubs that are located in, or near, downtown and midtown.

During tomorrow's city council meeting, the staff will present their recommendation that these clubs be re-located to more industrial areas. As you can imagine, there's some controversy on the matter.

We spoke with people on both sides of the issue.

Love it or hate it, topless and nude dancing is covered by freedom of expression.  But a legal doctrine cited in several Supreme Court rulings states that the negative secondary effects of strip clubs - like the decrease in surrounding property values or increase in crime - are enough to curb these types of businesses. 

Step one will be revoking the clubs’ liquor licenses; "To incentivize them to move and to basically shut them down or reduce their desirability of staying downtown by taking away the alcohol,” says Attorney Mark Thierman, who represents Keshmeri Entertainment Group, the owners of three of the four strip clubs that would be affected by proposed ordinance changes. 

 "We spend $20,000 a month just in taxes just on alcohol to the city, why would the city want to give up that revenue?" says Thierman.

The short answer is, they don't.  Reno's planning manager says the clubs could keep selling liquor and continue to make the same amount of money if they just relocate to industrial zones.

They say that would motivate companies to bring their business to downtown and midtown.

Mike Kazmierski is the President and CEO of The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) "I get a lot of push back from companies that are looking at our region. The things that are not family friendly and university, student-friendly often pops up in conversation as something that concerns them".

Not to mention what some claim happens inside the strip clubs.

"There's illegal drug use, there's violence, there's rapes, there's managers and men prostituting women out of there,” says Melissa Holland, director of Awaken, an anti-trafficking organization based in Reno

The owners and managers of the strip clubs say no way.

"We don't tolerate any level of that, because for us, if the guy gets what he wants in the first 15 minutes, it's over it's done, they don't spend any more money," says Ken Bell, manager of the Wild Orchid.

Again, the current push is not to shut the clubs down completely, but to move them.  Economically, that may turn out to be a win-win;  "The buildings they own now are worth a lot more than they probably bought them for, so they'll make  money on that property when they relocate", says Kazmierski.

The proposal regarding the strip clubs is being presented to the Reno City Council, Wednesday, Sept.13th at City Hall during the 6:00pm meeting. 

You are encouraged to attend and voice your opinion on this matter during public comment