Salem City Council has an ordinance in place that prohibits lap dancing. When brought to the attention of the Marion County court system, however, it was deemed “free speech” and therefore protected under the constitution. Council is now in the process of appealing this decision.

Local attorney Kevin Lafky is baffled.

“The ordinance is absurd. It’s a misguided use of tax dollars,” Lafky said. “Under the ordinance, half of the shows at the Elsinore Theatre would be illegal. I saw `Cabaret’ in Portland and here in Salem it would be illegal.”

Faye Wright Neighborhood Association Chairperson Julia Allison, who is spearheading a petition drive for Measure 54, which would regulate strip clubs in Oregon, applauds the City’s decision to appeal the ruling.

“It’s wonderful — it’s bringing the issue up front.”

Allison supports designating certain parts of the city as acceptable for adult entertainment while keeping strip clubs out of more residential neighborhoods. She envisions moving strip clubs to industrial parts of town and outlying areas where there are no neighbors.

“Even Las Vegas puts them two miles out of town,” Allison said. “Oregon is the only state with no provision to regulate the sex trade.”

But others, including local activist Neal Feldman have no patience with those who want to prohibit certain behaviors.

“Personally I disapprove of all prohibitions — they don’t work and cause more troubles. Whatever consenting adults do is between them. Measure 54 would only create a red light district. What about the people who live there? If you don’t want to go into these businesses, then don’t go in.”

City Attorney C. Randall Tosh said the appeal process has begun, briefs will be filed and oral arguments will be scheduled. The entire process should take a year and a half to two years.

To read the city ordinance regarding prohibited touching visit cityofsalem.net (pdf)