Commission urges ban on private rooms at city’s strip clubs

City commissioners concerned with women’s rights say a new proposal to regulate San Francisco strip clubs would protect dancers from illegal labor practices and from being forced into prostitution.

The measure, which was passed Wednesday by the Commission on the Status of Women but still needs to be approved by the Board of Supervisors, would require club owners to obtain an annually renewable permit to operate their businesses. There is no permitting process to operate a strip club in The City.

In the two years the commission has been studying the issue, members said, they heard from numerous dancers about being forced by club owners to pay a fee to perform on stage, a practice illegal in California.

The new legislation would also make it illegal to have private rooms not visible to people in the club or readily accessible. Commission officials said they heard from several dancers about being forced by owners into unlawful sexual acts with customers inprivate rooms. The situation has allegedly created an environment of “pimping and prostituting” at some clubs, according to some dancers.

“I want to make sure the women that are exotic dancers feel safe and can in no way be cordoned off,” Commissioner Angela Williams said.

The police department would regulate any illegal sexual acts, according to the City Attorney’s office. Permits would be issued and regulated by the Entertainment Commission. Clubs would have to meet a strict criterion of regulations before being issued a permit and would be reviewed annually to make sure dancers were working in a safe environment.

The legislation does not go far enough for one exotic dancer. A woman who identified herself as Daisey Anarchy said she was happy that the commission was studying the issue but was concerned that the Entertainment Commission would be the regulating body because one of its members, Terrance Allen, owns the Club Paree strip club on Jones Street.

The commission said Allen has already volunteered to recuse himself from any vote. The Commission on the Status of Women will next meet with the Entertainment Commission before putting the legislation before the Board of Supervisors.

sfarooq@examiner.com

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