[Updated: 3/4/07, 6/1/08]
The official site for Nye County, Nevada contains a large trove of research on adult-use zoning and the secondary effects of adult businesses. This compilation of studies (PDF) spans a wide range of times and places in America, and we have augmented it here with links from Community Defense Counsel. Some highlights:
Phoenix, AZ, 1979
Three study areas (near locations of sexually oriented businesses) and three control areas (with no sexually oriented businesses) were selected. The study and control areas were paired according to the number of residents, median family income, percentage of non-white population, median age of population, percentage of dwelling units built since 1950, and percentage of acreage used for residential and non-residential purposes.
On average, the number of sex offenses was 506 percent greater in neighborhoods where sexually oriented businesses were located… Even without considering the crime of indecent exposure [the most common sex offense] the number of other sex crimes, such as rape, lewd and lascivious behavior, and child molestation, was 132 percent greater than in control areas without sexually oriented businesses.
On average, the number of property crimes was 43 percent greater in neighborhoods where sexually oriented businesses were located, and the number of violent crimes was 4 percent higher in those areas.
Garden Grove, CA, 1991 (PDF)
Crime increased significantly with the opening of an adult business, or with the expansion of an existing business or the addition of a bar nearby. The rise was greatest in “serious” offenses (termed “Part I” crimes: homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, theft and auto theft)…
Overwhelmingly, respondents said that an adult business within 200-500 feet of a residential and commercial property depreciates that property value. The greatest impact was on single family homes. The chief factor cited for the depreciation was the increased crime associated with adult businesses.
Phone calls were made in a random sample of households in the Garden Grove Boulevard vicinity… More than 21 percent cited specific personal experiences of problems relating to these businesses, including crime, noise, litter and general quality of life. Eighty percent said they would want to move if an adult business opened in their neighborhood, with 60 percent saying they “would move” or “probably would move”.
Los Angeles, CA, 1977 (PDF)
More crime occurred where sexually oriented businesses were concentrated. Compared to city-wide statistics for 1969-75, areas with several such businesses experienced greater increases in pandering (340 percent), murder (42.3 percent), aggravated assault (45.2 percent), robbery (52.6 percent), and purse snatching (17 percent). Street robberies, where the criminal has face-to-face contact with his victim, increased almost 70 percent more in the study areas. A second category of crime, including other assaults, forgery, fraud, counterfeiting, embezzlement, stolen property, prostitution, narcotics, liquor laws and gambling increased 42 percent more in the study areas over the city as a whole.
Whittier, CA, 1978 (PDF)
After experiencing a rapid growth of sexually oriented businesses since 1969, the Whittier City Council commissioned a study of the effects of the businesses on the adjacent residential and commercial areas…
After 1973, 57 percent of the homes in the adult business area had changes of occupancy, compared to only 19 percent for the non-adult business area. Residents complained of “excessive noise, pornographic material left laying about, and sexual offenders (such as exhibitionists) venting their frustrations in the adjoining neighborhood…”
In the adult business area, criminal activity increased 102 percent (the entire city had only an 8.3 percent increase). Certain crimes skyrocketed (malicious mischief up 700 percent; all assaults up 387 percent; prostitution up 300 percent). All types of theft (petty, grand and auto) increased more than 120 percent each.
Indianapolis, IN, 1984 and Indianapolis, IN and Los Angeles, CA, 1984 (PDFs)
From 1978-82, crime increases in the study areas were 23 percent higher than the control areas (46 percent higher than the city as a whole). Sex-related crimes in the study areas increased more than 20 percent over the control areas. Residential locations in the study areas had a 56 percent greater crime increase than commercial study areas. Sex-related crimes were four times more common in residential study areas than commercial study areas with sexually oriented businesses.
Homes in the study areas appreciated at only half the rate of homes in the control areas, and one-third the rate of the city… Appraisers responding to the survey said one sexually oriented business within one block of residences and businesses decreased their value and half of the respondents said the immediate depreciation exceeded 10 percent. Appraisers also noted that value depreciation on residential areas near sexually oriented businesses is greater than on commercial locations.
Cleveland, OH, 1977 (PDF)
For 1976, study tracts had nearly double the number of robberies as the city as a whole (40.5 per study tract compared to 20.5 for other city tracts)… Of the three tracts with the highest incidence of rape, two had sexually oriented businesses and the third bordered a tract with two such businesses. In these three, there were 41 rapes in 1976 (14 per tract), nearly seven times the city average of 2.4 rapes per census tract.
Oklahoma City, OK, 1986 and 1984-1989 (PDFs)
This study contained the results of a survey of 100 Oklahoma City Real Estate Appraisers. Appraisers were given a hypothetical situation and a section to comment on the effects of sexually oriented businesses in Oklahoma City. The hypothetical situation presented a residential neighborhood bordering an arterial street with various commercial properties which served the area. A building vacated by a hardware store was soon to be occupied by an “adult” bookstore. No other sexually oriented businesses were in the area and no other vacant commercial space existed. With less than a one month response time, 34 completed surveys were received by the city.
Thirty-two percent of the respondents said that such a bookstore within one block of the residential area would decrease home values by at least 20 percent. Overwhelmingly, respondents said an “adult” bookstore would negatively affect other businesses within one block (76 percent). The level of depreciation is greater for residents than businesses… Frequent problems cited by the appraisers included the attraction of undesirable clients and businesses, safety threats to residents and other shoppers (especially children), deterrence of home sales and rentals, and immediate area deterioration (trash, debris, vandalism).
Austin, TX, 1986 (PDF)
To determine the effects of these businesses on property values, the city sent surveys to 120 real estate appraising or landing firms (nearly half responded) For trade area characteristics, three businesses (a bookstore, theater and topless bar) were observed on a weekend night to determine customer addresses…
Eighty-eight percent said that a sexually oriented business within one block of a residential area decreases the value of the homes (33 percent said depreciation would be at least 20 percent). Respondents also said such a business is a sign of neighborhood decline, making underwriters hesitant to approve the 90 to 95 percent financing most home buyers require. They said com
mercial property is also negatively affected by such businesses.
Of 81 license plates traced for owner addresses, only three lived within one mile of the sexually oriented business; 44 percent were from outside Austin.
Seattle, WA, 1989 (PDF)
Seattle had eight such dance halls (termed “adult cabarets”), six established since 1987…
The increased number of cabarets resulted in citizen complaints, including phone calls, letters (from individuals and merchant associations) and several petitions with hundreds of signatures. Protests cited decreased property values; increased insurance rates; fears of burglary, vandalism, rape, assaults, drugs and prostitution; and overall neighborhood deterioration. The report noted that patrons of these cabarets most often are not residents of nearby neighborhoods. Without community identity, behavior is less inhibited. Increased police calls to a business, sirens and traffic hazards from police and emergency vehicles are not conducive to healthy business and residential environments.
Adams County, CO, 1980s-90s (PDF)
The study concluded that there was a clearly demonstrated rise in crime and violence, and an increase in the attraction to transients to the area as a result of nude entertainment establishments. This caused a danger to residents and an undesirable model for youth and the community at large…
An April 1988 study of six adult business locations in Adams County, revealed that 76% of patrons were transient.
Denver, CO, 1998 (PDF)
The [Adult Use Study Team] found that adult use businesses caused negative secondary impacts to nearby properties and neighborhoods, including criminal activity, litter, noise, traffic problems and depreciation in property values. The study notes that the litter generated by such businesses includes printed material containing pornography, used condoms, sex paraphernalia, and used syringes. The crimes, which were significantly higher around adult use businesses compared with the city as a whole, included disturbing the peace, public indecency, prostitution, drug-related crimes…
Environmental Research Group to the American Center for Law & Justice, 1996 (PDF)
Surveys of businesses in Bothell, WA and Austin, TX revealed that less than three percent of vehicles parked in the lots were registered to an owner that resided a mile or less away.
ERG concluded that the impact of sex-businesses for small towns is more intense than that of big towns. The business district of a small town is not as large and not capable of “dividing up” sections of town. A national survey of real estate appraisers and lenders revealed that the placement of a sexually oriented business is generally an indicator of the decline of a community–in a small town, the business district is impacted as a whole. Also, the target audience of a small town will not suffice for sex business and must draw business from a regional area. Sex businesses also set the tone of the pedestrian intent in the area. Interviews with non-sex business patrons and passersby indicated a likelihood that a person will be prospected for sex acts or be sexually harassed.
Saint Paul, MN, 1988
The 1987 study included statistics showing that most “prostitution arrests in the city occur within four blocks on either side of the concentration of four adult businesses.” Other problems included “the propositioning” and “sexual harassment of neighborhood women mistaken for prostitutes”, “discarding of hard-core pornographic literature” (which is “most strongly associated with adult bookstores”) “on residential property where it becomes available to minors”, a “generally high crime rate,” and “a general perception” that such an area “is an unsafe place due to the concentration of adult entertainment that exists there.” Redevelopment experience in St. Paul showed that adult use areas caused a “blighting influence inhibiting development.”
Las Vegas, NV, 1978 (PDF)
Among brokers and realtors, overwhelming majorities said that adult entertainment establishments had negative effects on the market value (82%), saleability/rentability (78%), and rental value (76%) of the properties located near these establishments. According to 81%, there is a decrease in the annual income of businesses in the vicinity of adult establishments.
Dallas, TX, 1997 (PDF)
The study found that the presence of an SOB in an area can create a “dead zone” which is avoided by shoppers and families with children that do not want to be in areas that also have adult uses. Also, the late hours of operation combined with loitering by unsavory people in the area where SOBs are located, appear to lead to higher crime in the area. In fact, a look at police calls for service over a four-year period (1993-1996) shows that SOBs were a major source of the calls…
The study shows that a concentration of SOBs has a higher negative impact on the surrounding communities than an area with one isolated SOB. When concentrated, SOBs tend to be a magnet for certain businesses such as pawn shops, gun stores, liquor stores, etc., while driving away more family-oriented businesses… Interviews with owners of commercial property near SOBs confirmed that the loss of property value manifested in a variety of ways, including: increased operating costs, like additional security patrols, burglar alarms, and trash cleanup; properties selling at much lower sales prices; and extreme difficulty in leasing properties.
El Paso, TX, 1986 (PDF)
[T]he average crime rate in the study areas was 72% higher than the rate in the control areas… residents in study areas had great fear of deterioration and crime than residents in control areas.
In addition, some respondents told survey interviewers they feared retaliation from SOBs if they gave information about problems related to SOBs.
See the complete compilation of secondary effects studies gathered by Nye County (PDF), and the additional studies available at Community Defense Counsel. We call your special attention to the in-depth reports and adult-use zoning plans from Islip, NY (PDF, 1980), Beaumont, TX (PDF, 1982), Saint Paul, MN (PDF, 1983), Des Moines, WA (PDF, 1984), Manatee County (PDF, 1987), Bellevue, WA (PDF, 1988), Minnesota (PDF, 1989), New Hanover County (PDF, 1989), Tucson (PDF, 1990), St. Croix County, (PDF, 1993), New York City (PDF, 1994), New York City a> (PDF, 1994, Times Square Area), Newport News (PDF, 1996) and Cleburne, TX (PDF, 1997).