An adult entertainment store is challenging Spokane County’s rule prohibiting such businesses near residential neighborhoods.
In a suit filed last week in U.S. District Court, World Wide Video of Washington, Inc., claims the long-standing regulation unconstitutionally suppresses free speech.
The ordinance prohibits adult entertainment stores within 1,000 feet of residential areas. The World Wide Video Super Store, which opened in the Valley this year, is less than 700 feet from homes.
The company has not shut down the store at 9411 E. First as the county ordered in May, and may have found a way to remain open even if it loses its court battle.
An employee who answered the telephone Monday said that 13 token-operated booths where customers viewed X-rated films are closed.
Without those booths, the store may not qualify as an arcade - which by definition provide entertainment on the premises, said Alan deLaubenfels, who enforces county zoning ordinances.
And since less than half of its merchandise is books, the store doesn’t qualify as a bookstore, either. The inventory includes X-rated videos, sex aids, and sexually explicit books and magazines.
The ordinance applies only to bookstores and arcades, deLaubenfels said.
World Wide’s lawsuit says the company wants to reopen the viewing booths, which also violated county regulations because they were designed to provide customers with privacy. The suit does not challenge that law.
Gilbert Levy, World Wide’s attorney, could not be reached for comment at his Seattle office. Store employees would not comment about the suit.
World Wide is based in California.
In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Renton, Wash., law that banned adult theaters within 1,000 feet of homes, churches, parks and schools. But the court also said laws cannot be so restrictive as to push the businesses completely out of a community.
There are only a handful of locations in Spokane County that are zoned for businesses and are more than 1,000 feet from residential areas.
World Wide opened the Valley store earlier this year.
County officials who approved construction permits said owners listed the business as a “general mercantile,” a category that typically applies to clothing stores.