Porterville Peep Show Controversy

August 7, 2008 7:13:19 PM PDT
An adult video store has added a new form of entertainment and some don't like it. The Porterville store under scrutiny has been in the business for nearly a decade, but a recent change isn't sitting well with some in the community. About a month ago, the Sawana Adult Shop started offering video showings for people in individual booths. Now, local authorities are looking into whether the shop is violating a city ordinance by offering private peep shows.

Trina Leon says an advertisement in a local newspaper prompted her to complain to the Porterville City Council about peep shows being offered in town. Leon, a Porterville resident, says "If people want it, that's fine, but they are upgrading to say 'Hey, let's start showing videos here.' No! Let's not do videos, we don't need a peep show in this town."

The owner of the store wouldn't comment on camera but he did invite Action News cameras inside to see the booths in question. They offer adult video clips at 25 cents a minute. Leon says they don't belong in Porterville. Trina Leon says, "I was very surprised at what I saw because we know what men do in there."

Mayor Pro-Tem Pete McCracken says the city and police are looking into whether the peep shows violate an ordinance passed five years ago that prohibits sexually explicit businesses like Sawana from operating 1,000 feet near a sensitive-use building, such as a school. The La Sierra Charter High School was built four years ago and sits right across the street. Since the shop was built nearly ten years ago the ordinance doesn't apply, but that may change now that they're offering private viewings.

Pete McCracken says "It was added afterwards, however there is a question that has to be looked at. It's not the same store. They changed the store after the school." McCracken also says the shop is protected by First Amendment rights of free speech, but shielded, private booths within the store are not.

McCracken says "The manager of the store must be able to see into every area of the store where patrons are allowed. There can't be a curtain and there can't be a door."

The owner of the store insisted he has a written permit from the city to operate the booths in the store. He's planning on going to City Hall on Friday morning to show them the paperwork and try and get the situation resolved.

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