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Sex and the City – Why Laws Prohibit Adult Stores Close to Neighborhood

Comfort Zone in North College Park

Oh no! I ‘m not going to write about the HBO cable film and tv series “Sex and the City“. This blog has never been about what’s shown on celluloid or flat screen TV. 

This morning, I came across a Patch article, that talks about north College Park store “Comfort Zone”, which has allegedly violated county laws that prohibit selling adult products. I wrote about the store twice before – please see them here and here

The Patch article includes an interview that I gave to Tami Le, the article’s author.

I wish the article could mention that my comments are solely based on the City’s interpretation of the alleged violation against Comfort Zone. The county’s zoning rules say that an adult store must be at least 1,000 feet from homes, the store in question here is less than 100ft from the nearest houses in north College Park. Please click the picture above to see the exact location of the store in the Hollywood neighborhood.

I also wish it could include my other part of the interview where I mentioned why the county laws are in place against adult stores in close vicinity of the neighborhood. That law (section 27-902) was brought in place after repeated complaints from residents living close to a similar store in Beltsville.

Here are a few comments from those neighbors (please see the links here, here and here). Hope these comments should explain why it was necessary for the County to pass that law last year.

One Beltsville resident, George Mazanderan, said that a store near his home attracts drug dealers and prostitutes and that he has found used condoms in his driveway.

“They use my yard as a bathroom,” she said. “They use it for sex. … They leave their shoes, underwear and sex toys. My yard man cleans [condoms] up every time he works on my yard. Beer bottles, whiskey bottles, stuff like that.”

“I have a teenage son and daughter,” she said. “It’s hard to explain to your kids that these are bad things but our society and community doesn’t care about it.”

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7 Comments to “Sex and the City – Why Laws Prohibit Adult Stores Close to Neighborhood”

  1. By Jens J, December 2, 2010 @ 10:54 pm

    Just a shame that you are now targeting another business that you find distasteful.

    The Comfort Zone is really much different to that Beltsville video viewing place. Come on man! Pervs go there to engage in illegal sexual activity. Oprah did a show on places like that a few years ago. Its used for people who are “On the down low,” to use the term provided by one of her guests. You should look into it.

    Nevertheless, I don’t think people would be attracted to actually buying sex toys just to use them in the parking lot, or behind the Comfort Zone. Therefore, I’m glad the owner is fighting. Just look at how much subjectivity is in the current restriction. The Code Enforcement official’s level of sexual excitation needs to be closely considered.

    I mean, which objects caused the feelings of sexual excitation? Does a particular size matter, or was it a particular make and model. Would fuzzy handcuffs be allowed, or would that be okay if the customer was a police officer, and already had a pair? (Gotta look for loopholes with PG Cops, ya know)

    I have an idea, Kabir! Maybe the owner could come up with a compromise that would ensure safety in the parking lot and near the homes. The City can prohibit the sale of batteries in sex shops. This would render most of the products useless until the customer left the store. We can then have the law changed to make the loading, or charging, of any dildo in public a crime within 1000 feet of any house in Northern College Park.

    Would that make you feel safer?

  2. By Fazlul Kabir, December 2, 2010 @ 11:12 pm

    Jens,

    I much appreciate your comments.

    As I mentioned in this and other posts, IF the store is *truely* an adult store (as the City is alleging), it has two ways to correct that allegation
    (1) Fix its line of products so that they conform to the 10% guideline that the county code dictates
    (2) Move the store somewhere which is outside of 1000 ft boundary from the nearby residential homes.

    I also reject your comment that says I’m against businesses in general. I’m all for attracting businesses to the City with correct incentives and other means, but at the same time, we need to make sure they all follow County and City code, so that they don’t have any negative impact on the families and children living in nearby neighborhoods.

    Hope this explains. Take care.

  3. By Jens J, December 3, 2010 @ 8:34 am

    Does your desire for compliance extend to private schools as well? I mean if negative impact is your worrry, traffic is pretty bad.

  4. By Fazlul Kabir, December 3, 2010 @ 9:10 am

    Jens, Certainly, I’d be happy to answer your question. However since this is an off-topic question, I sent you an email asking you a few details. I’ll appreciate if you can please reply that email. Thanks.
    [Edit] The email I sent bounced back. Can you please email me at faz.kabir@gmail.com? Thanks.

  5. By Jens J, December 3, 2010 @ 9:18 am

    I appreciate the public forum. Do not expect an email back from me.

  6. By Fazlul Kabir, December 4, 2010 @ 6:56 am

    Jens,

    That’s fine. I hope to make a post on the subject you raised. I think it’s important to have further discussion on that.

    I’m still curious to know who you are. Please send me an email or give me an email that actually works. You may be one of my good neighbors, yet we don’t really know each other much. I find that kind of frustrating.

    Take care.

  7. By Anonymous, May 15, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

    Sex is a natural thing that happens all over the world. I imagine the problem isn’t simply the plain existence of the store, but as mentioned by the homeowner complaint, irresponsible people who invade the neighborhood and disturb the peace.

    Perhaps one solution would be to require Comfort Zone to provide its own security detail to make sure the riffraff doesn’t invade the neighborhood.

    Also a sign or ordinance saying that customers must not disturb the premises nor the neighborhood and not “use their products immediately” might be helpful as well.

    There should be a formal record of homeowner complaints. Is this logged with the police? In this way you can empirically measure at the number of formal complaints to reflect actual activity in the neighborhood (i.e. stranger sightings, used condoms, etc.)

    You should stick with the facts — things like littering and loitering are EVENTS and FACTS, and can be pointed to. These matter. General attitudes like a general sense of discomfort shouldn’t be regarded as much — this can lead to discrimination, since not everyone views the world in the same way. So you have attitudes vs. FACTS.

    If there is indeed a high incidence of new activity in the surrounding neighborhood, there is a bigger case. If there is not, perhaps things should be reconsidered.

    When considering the case, I hope the council starts with an empirical look at the data available or starts a log with a time period for data to come in.