Unalska City Council passes nudity ban

Posted: Friday, February 22, 2002

UNALASKA (AP) -- In an effort to curtail a newly opened strip club, the Unalaska City Council has passed a prohibition on most forms of public nudity.

The public nudity ordinance is aimed directly at Mermaids, a downtown strip club that opened last month. The new law, passed Tuesday by a 5-0 margin, will require dancers to wear G-strings and ''pasties'' when they perform.

Exemptions to the nudity ban apply to small children, art classes and breast-feeding mothers.

Most testimony at past meetings has been in favor of the ordinance, but the only public comment Tuesday opposed the new law. Mya Renken said she believes Unalaska has never had a public nudity problem in the past, and that the ordinance is not the proper way to clamp down on Mermaids.

''I'd rather see this resolved with a planning and zoning restriction than in passing a new ordinance that is probably going to have a longer life than this business,'' she said.

Other ordinances to restrict adult-oriented businesses also are likely. On Tuesday, the council forwarded proposals that would limit the location and business practices of such establishments.

An ordinance regulating adult businesses would, among other restrictions, ban lap dances, keep dancers from accepting tips, regulate the size of strip clubs and keep dancers at least eight feet from customers while performing.

Another proposal calls for prohibiting adult businesses from operating within 300 feet of churches, schools, parks and residential developments. Virtually all of the developed portion of Unalaska Island, including the current location of Mermaids, would be off-limits.

The nudity ban and any other measures that are approved will be effective March 12.

Kostas Manolakakis, the owner of Mermaids, did not attend the meeting. When contacted earlier Tuesday, he said the combined effect of the ordinances will be devastating to his business. Limits on tipping will be especially harmful, he said.

''That will force me to close down,'' Manolakakis told The Dutch Harbor Fisherman. ''How are the girls going to make any money?''

Brooks Chandler, the city attorney, said that the council should probably expect its new laws to be tested in court, since laws must give such businesses an opportunity to exist in the community.

Chandler has said, however, that all of the steps the council is considering have been upheld in other jurisdictions.

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