Minneapolis leaders are taking steps to crack down on downtown strip clubs after two recent investigations revealed health and safety risks at several venues.
Council Members Cam Gordon and Linea Palmisano want to amend city code to update licensing and zoning regulations for adult entertainment establishments. The two amendments are expected to be introduced at the April 28 council meeting.
“Every worker in our city deserves a safe environment,” Palmisano said. “[These businesses] are allowed to operate in our city, so what can we do to make sure that these places are doing business in a way that keeps the community as safe as possible?”
In February, a Minneapolis Health Department sweep of the city’s 17 licensed adult entertainment establishments identified bodily fluids at 11 venues. Shortly afterward, a report from the University of Minnesota’s Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC), commissioned and co-funded by the health department, showed that strip club employees face on-the-job health and safety hazards but have few protections.
Both investigations zeroed in on VIP rooms, where patrons pay to spend time alone with entertainers. In the UROC report, entertainers said customers often expect sexual contact in the VIP rooms and have been known to use force when it doesn’t happen.
Of the 11 venues where health department inspections found bodily fluids, all but one have private or semiprivate spaces.
Health department officials have limited authority over the adult establishments, in part because the only relevant ordinance is considered outdated. After the inspections in February, the venues where bodily fluids were identified were declared a public health nuisance under state law.
Few details about the proposed amendments are available, but Gordon said most of the changes would be made to licensing regulations.
“I think there’s a need that we have some local regulations and oversight,” he said.
Gordon and Palmisano said they’re planning to get feedback from the advisory group that contributed to the UROC report, and they also want to look at how other cities enforce the law at adult entertainment venues. It’s not yet clear what role club owners will play in shaping the Minneapolis ordinances.