That meeting was standing room only, with dozens of community members and pastors filling the chambers. They can't see the future, but they know what kind of businesses they don't want in it. "I do think we have a right to say what businesses come to our community and we as a Christian community, we feel this is not a business we want in our community," said Selma pastor Dale Davis.
The issue came to the council's attention after a Fresno County palm reader approached the city, trying to move her business within city limits. Her husband attended Monday's meeting, asking for a chance. "All we're asking from the community is not to judge us from others," said Steve Ortiz.
Selma took up the ordinance after finding out their current ordinance from 1979 was ruled unconstitutional more than 25 years ago. A Bakersfield attorney attended the meeting in support of the business owner. H. Dennis Beaver called the opposition hysteria and said and said First Amendment rights are on the line. "If it acts out of religious motivation instead of adopting a fair ordinance in favor of an honest business owner, they're going to find themselves in trouble," said Beaver.
At least one city leader seemed to indicate he's ready for a fight. Dennis Lujan almost challenged the business as he urged it to go elsewhere. "You're not welcome here, period. God forbid you open up here because you're not going to have any business and these guys are crazy enough to picket you," said Lujan.
The palm reader's husband said he and his wife were still planning on moving forward, despite the opposition voiced at the meeting.
In the meantime, the city council will be working with the planning commission and the public, trying to come up with some additional regulations and restrictions on how and where these businesses will be able to operate.