NoPornNorthampton Reaches Out to Springfield, MA, Neighborhood with Advice on Adult Enterprises

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Adult enterprises can put their surroundings at risk for "secondary effects": crime, blight, hazardous trash and harassment of passersby. NoPornNorthampton has mailed over 1,700 letters to voters in Springfield, MA, suggesting actions they can take to reduce these risks and enjoy safe, prosperous neighborhoods.

the largest adult retail chain in the nation.

Adult enterprises can put their surroundings at risk for "secondary effects". These include crime, economic blight, hazardous trash and the harassment of passersby. NoPornNorthampton, a citizens' group in Northampton, MA, has mailed over 1,700 letters to voters in the nearby city of Springfield suggesting actions they can take to reduce these risks and enjoy safe, prosperous neighborhoods.

Citizens of Northampton, MA, formed NoPornNorthampton in June 2006 in response to plans of Capital Video Corporation to locate a new store next to residential neighborhoods there. Established in 1979, Capital Video calls itself "the largest adult retail chain in the nation." It is headquartered in Cranston, RI.

NoPornNorthampton operates the website NoPornNorthampton.org, a large repository of information about the harm of porn and adult enterprises. It describes actions that municipalities can take to reduce this harm, such as zoning adult uses away from homes and regulating viewing booths for health. Towns such as Kittery, Maine, have found that even simple actions like removing the doors from viewing booths can substantially reduce the incidence of unsafe sex in them.

In the fall of 2006, the Northampton City Council, satisfied that the peril of secondary effects needed to be addressed, passed legislation to regulate the size and location of adult enterprises.

NoPornNorthampton has mailed over 1,700 letters to voters in the Apremont Triangle area of Springfield, home of a Capital Video outlet called Amazing.net, to share what we have learned about how to mitigate the harm from adult enterprises. The full text of these letters is published on NoPornNorthampton.org. We suggest the people of Springfield:

1) Pass viewing booth health regulations, including removing the doors from the booths.

2) Shut down adult enterprises as public nuisances when they generate more crime, blight and unsafe activity than the surrounding neighborhood can reasonably tolerate.

3) Pass improved adult-use zoning regulations for Springfield. This includes requiring adult enterprises to be located at least 500-1,000 feet away from homes, schools, houses of worship and other locations where children are likely to be found. Existing adult enterprises can be compelled to move within a specified period of time, such as 1-5 years (this is called "amortization").

4) Encourage local media to cover these issues more closely. Sometimes media outlets are inclined to go easy on adult enterprises because of perceived First Amendment issues. Other media outlets receive substantial advertising revenues from the sex industry.

NoPornNorthampton does not advocate for increased government censorship of media. All of our regulatory suggestions have been upheld by US courts as compatible with the First Amendment. Regulations such as adult-use zoning have generally been found to impose only slight burdens on speech, while securing important public benefits. Common objections and concerns are answered at length in our Frequently Asked Questions section, found on the home page of NoPornNorthampton.org.

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ADAM COHEN
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