New York City Planners Document Secondary Effects of Adult Uses, Support Zoning

Porn defenders tend to dismiss the notion of secondary effects, that adult uses can reduce property values, create economic dead zones, heighten crime and change a neighborhood’s character. The fact is, however, that secondary effects have been extensively studied and documented. Here we make available a major Adult Entertainment Study published by New York City’s Department of City Planning (DCP) in 1994. These Adobe PDF files are so large (about 300 pages in all) that we present the study in four parts.

NYC Adult Entertainment Study Part 1 of 4
( PDF, 5 MB )

NYC Adult Entertainment Study Part 2 of 4
( PDF, 4 MB )

NYC Adult Entertainment Study Part 3 of 4
( PDF, 7 MB )

NYC Adult Entertainment Study Part 4 of 4
( PDF, 5 MB )

New York City’s study reviews the impacts of adult uses in other locales, discusses the adult entertainment industry, reviews adult zoning in New York City, and describes the impacts of adult uses there.

Sample finding (p. 50): “It is significant that more than 80 percent of the [real estate] brokers responding (11 of 13) reported that an adult entertainment establishment tends to decrease the market value of property that lies within 500 feet of it. When the distance is increased from between 500 to 1,000 feet of an adult use, a majority of brokers (7 of 13) indicated that the same phenomenon would occur.”

Sample findings (p. 56-65): “DCP found secondary impacts, similar to those found in studies done by other localities. For example, the Town of Islip, New York, found that adult uses create ‘dead zones’ in commercial areas which shoppers avoid. Los Angeles, California found a greater proportion of certain crimes in areas of concentration of adult uses compared to the city as a whole, and other impacts traced to negative public perceptions about adult uses, such as the need to provide private security guards in parking lots and closing area businesses early…

“Major crimes occurred in study areas [in Indianapolis] that contained at least one adult entertainment establishment at a rate that was 23% higher than six control areas (similar areas without adult entertainments), and 46 percent higher than the Indianapolis Police District.

“The City of Whittier, California, found higher turnover rates in commercial and residential areas adjacent to adult uses. The study compared 38 types of criminal activity over two time periods, showing a total increase of 102 percent for the study area containing adult businesses, while the city as a whole only had an eight percent increase.

“A study by the City of Austin, Texas, compared areas with adult businesses to other areas containing similar land uses but no adult businesses, revealing a sex crimes rate between two and five times greater in the areas with adult businesses…

“Phoenix, Arizona studied the relationship between arrests for sex crimes and the locations of adult businesses, finding an overall increase of six times the sex crime rate in the study areas with adult uses over the control areas without such uses…

“Of 100 businesses surveyed [in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea], 61 percent felt that the triple-X video stores had a negative impact on their businesses and 88 percent thought the potential for doing business in Chelsea has been negatively affected by the adult stores…

“Those citing negative impacts from adult establishments [at a 1993 public hearing in Manhattan] noted crime most frequently, and quality of life impacts such as littering, noise, late night operations, offensive signage, and general perceptions about neighborhoods or certain streets…

“In surveys of community organizations, more than 80 percent responded that adult entertainment establishments negatively impact the community in some way…

“The experience of urban planners and real estate appraisers indicates that negative perceptions associated with an area can lead to disinvestment in residential neighborhoods and a tendency to shun shopping streets where unsavory activities are occurring, leading to economic decline…

“The strongest negative reactions to adult entertainment uses comes from residents living near them…

“Based on these findings, DCP believes it is appropriate to regulate adult entertainment establishments differently from other commercial establishments… [T]he following regulatory techniques, which have been used in other jurisdictions, merit consideration in developing adult use regulations: restrictions on the location of adult uses in proximity to residential areas, to houses of worship, to schools and to each other.”

15 thoughts on “New York City Planners Document Secondary Effects of Adult Uses, Support Zoning

  1. I suggest you take a look at this article: Lawlor, James. “Adult business rules subject to closer scrutiny.” Planning 72.4 (April 2006): 49(1).

    Here’s an important quote from a court ruling cited in the article:
    “Gone are the days when a municipality may enact an ordinance ostensibly regulating secondary effects on the basis of evidence consisting of little more than self-serving assertions of municipality officials.”

    In other words, all of your bluster about secondary effects in Kittery, San Diego, New York, wherever, won’t pass muster if Capital Video (or anyone else) takes the city to court. I’ll ask again, what PROOF can you offer a judge that the proposed store will have negative secondary effects on Northampton?

  2. Thank you, Jeff. We purchased this article at
    and read it.

    Here is the introduction:

    “Two recent opinions applying the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2002 decision in City of Los Angeles v. Alameda Books make it clear that municipalities defending the validity of zoning regulations or licensing restrictions intended to reduce ‘adverse secondary effects’ of adult entertainment businesses will have to meet a higher standard of proof. Cities can no longer rely on the ‘reasonable belief’ argument when the affected businesses produce evidence casting doubt on the regulations’ effectiveness, underlying rationale, or tendency to reduce speech.

    “In Alameda Books, four Supreme Court justices wrote that a 1977 study associating increased crime rates with concentrations of adult establishments could be used to justify the city’s 1983 ordinance forbidding multiple adult businesses in the same structure, even though the study did not address the particular form of business addressed by the ordinance. The plurality opinion reiterated that a municipality may rely on evidence reasonably believed to be relevant to demonstrate a connection between adult businesses and adverse secondary effects.

    “The justices cautioned, however, that a city must provide evidence in support of an ordinance’s rationale, and would not get away with shoddy data or reasoning. ‘If plaintiffs fail to cast direct doubt on this rationale, either by demonstrating that the municipality’s evidence does not support its rationale or by furnishing evidence that disputes the municipality’s factual findings, the municipality meets the standard set forth in Renton,’ they wrote. If plaintiffs succeed in casting doubt, the opinion continues, the burden shifts back to the municipality to provide additional evidence supporting its ordinance.”

    The article then makes a brief discussion of cases in New York City and Daytona Beach.

    We agree that arguments should avoid shoddy data or reasoning. The courts are not rejecting the concept of “secondary effects” as such. They are asking two cities for more data in two very specific instances.

    We believe we have provided plenty of evidence that adult businesses impose a risk of secondary effects to Northampton:

    New York City Planners Document Secondary Effects of Adult Uses, Support Zoning

    Impact of Porn Shops on a Community

    Des Moines: Adult Uses Cause Business Failures, Scare People Away

    Law Article: “Preventing the Secondary Effects of Adult Entertainment Establishments: Is Zoning the Solution?”

    US Court of Appeals Upholds Minneapolis Regulation of Porn Viewing Booths

    The Kittery Experience

    The Blaine Experience

    Evidence like this underpins adult-use ordinances now in force in Massachusetts towns like Fitchburg, Oxford, Dartmouth and Douglas. Citizens and leaders of these towns understand that 100% certainty, or “proof” as you seem to conceive it, is an unreasonable standard when making decisions about human affairs. They refuse to be bamboozled by expensive porn industry lawyers, and can make a sound judgment based on the substantial evidence at hand.

  3. I don’t know what you’re implying when you say “bamboozled,” but you know that cities can pretty much pass any laws that they want to. It’s the courts that decide whether the law is constitutionally valid or whether the standards are unreasonable. The problem is that if the standards are ruled unreasonable, it will cost the town in legal fees.

    I’m afraid that you’re trying to bamboozle the people of Northampton by citing studies that don’t seem to be pertinent to Northmapton. Many of the articles you’ve cited above refer to secondary effects of adult businesses with viewing booths, which won’t be the case here (yet that doesn’t keep you from continually posting links to it). And only someone who’s been bamboozled will think that Northampton is the same as New York City. I’ll ask you again: why don’t you post information about the impact of Capital Video stores on other cities and towns instead of just focusing on Kittery? And why don’t you explain how the current adult businesses in town have affected Northampton? Again, while you maintain those stores are “different,” they are the type of store you’re trying to regulate. And finally, why don’t you get some detail on what effect the adult store had in Hadley? Or what effect has Castaways had in Hadley? There are plenty of opportunities for you to get appropriate information on what the impact would be on Northampton, but you try to compare us to San Diego or Minneapolis. You’re mixing apples and oranges.

  4. At this point, Jeff, we invite the people to compare with and judge for themselves who makes the better case, where the balance of evidence lies, and which proposition makes more sense, that people are affected by what they read and watch, or that they’re not.

    As always, more facts are on the way.

  5. I am familiar with the satire at Moporn, but I am in no way affiliated with the site and a bit mystified as to why you would change the subject like that. But I’ll await your facts.

  6. Ah, thank you for setting me straight. My apologies.

    If the 300-page New York City Adult Entertainment Study isn’t enough for you, more facts are conveniently gathered in the sidebars on the left side of our home page at

    The facts against adult businesses have been tested again and again in American courts. Is that just not good enough for you? Do you prefer a stricter standard? Why do you think they instruct juries that “beyond all possible doubt” is not appropriate when judging human affairs?

  7. Sigh. I was hoping for more. The New York study is dated, as their zoning laws have changed since the. Des Moines in 1974 has no relation to Northampton in 2006. And the proposed store won’t have viewing booths. Don’t you have anything more? I’ll ask again: what about Hadley? What secondary effects did they experience? What about Northampton? What secondary effects has Northampton experienced since Oh, My and Pride and Joy opened? What about the 40-odd other cities where Capital Video has stores? Can’t you find anything more relevant? Your asking the City Government to pass significant legislation based on the experience of cities that have nothing in common with Northampton. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for more relevant information? I have asked for it, and I know that other’s have as well. Yet, you keep referencing the same questionable material.

  8. The New York study dates from 1994–doesn’t seem so long ago to me. Even porn directors agree that porn has gotten more extreme over time, so I would expect that what was true about its effects in 1974 is just as if not more true in 2006.

    As for Capital Video’s current plans for Northampton not having viewing booths, we just visited their Meriden (CT) store. The clerk there said the store has been in operation for about 13 years, but its viewing booths in the back were just installed last year. Seems plausible that Capital Video might also be planning to take that two-step approach here.

    The experience this year of Kittery (ME) with its Capital Video store tells me plenty about their impacts and attitude. Owner Kenneth Guarino is a convicted criminal with mob ties who sells cruel movies. I see no reason to give him the benefit of the doubt or expect that his operation will be any better than your average adult businesses elsewhere.

    The adult portions of Pride & Joy and Oh My are less than one-sixth the size of Capital Video’s proposed store. Their owners are far more approachable and engaged with the public than Capital Video is.

    Naturally we’ll continue to collect and report relevant information.

  9. So, the short answer is, no, you have no new information. If you can’t see any differences between 1974 Des Moines and 2006 Northampton, how can you be trusted to be the flag bearer for anti-pornography legislation in town? And you also know that the pornography industry has changed drastically in the last 10 years, so pretty much any study you look at from before than can’t be taken at face value any more. And I can only assume since you keep referring to Kittery, Maine, that you don’t have information on the negative impact of Capital VIP stores on other cities and towns.

    As for Pride and Joy and Oh, My, nothing you’ve cited about the secondary effects of pornography and adult businesses has established a correlation between the size of the store, or the “approachability” of the owners. Perhaps you can cite studies to support that assertion as well?

  10. You’re certainly putting up a vigorous defense for a convicted criminal who makes his living from suffering. Don’t worry, we’ll keep providing more evidence for your consideration.

  11. I’m not surprised by your response: accuse me of doing and being something that I’m not. In the absence of facts, you accuse people who question you of being things they’re not.

    I’m not defending Guarino, though I don’t hold the fact that he paid protection money to keep his business afloat against him as much as you do.

  12. The point is you appear to be holding NoPornNorthampton up to a much stricter standard of proof and credibility than a convicted criminal, someone who paid a notorious mobster over $1.7 million dollars, who sells abusive movies and magazines.

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