Community members organize to fight Stars Cabaret
TUALATIN - Lake Grove and Tualatin-area residents have plans to fight a new strip club no matter how stacked the odds are against them.
Busying himself with his cell phone, Claude DaCorsi looked up just long enough to ack-nowledge that Stars Cabaret-Bridgeport expected contention.
Did its owners and managers expect a room full of 150 residents (an estimated 70 percent from Lake Oswego) rallying to keep the strip club from locating in the city?
'It happens every time we open somewhere,' DaCorsi admitted.
DaCorsi, manager of the new Stars Cabaret planned for McEwan Road on the Lake Oswego side of Interstate 5, was the lone representative of the strip club at a public meeting Tuesday night at Tualatin's police station where people warned of plans to video tape the strip club property and repeatedly asked for DaCorsi's home address so they could picket outside his house.
The address is technically in Tualatin but butts up against the Lake Grove and Rivergrove areas of Lake Oswego.
Is there any level of contention with which the Stars Cabaret owners might decide it's not worth it and not come to Tualatin?
As he waited for an escort to his car, DaCorsi acknowledged, 'Probably not.'
And there it was.
Tualatin, a bedroom community of Portland - a city with the highest number of strip clubs per capita in the country - is caught between a stubborn business and a court ruling that won't allow municipalities to govern where a strip club can operate. And caught looking on are Lake Oswego, Lake Grove and Rivergrove, which would be most affected by the new club.
In Oregon, provocative dancing in the nude isn't just a business, it's protected speech. And strip clubs cannot be regulated any more than book stores.
Despite the odds, Tualatin City Councilor Monique Beikman rallied the packed room Tuesday night. She vowed to fight Stars Cabaret until the end.
While the city of Tualatin provided information for Tuesday's public meeting, it was elected officials acting as private citizens who ran the show. Mayor Lou Ogden announced that every member of the Tualatin City Council was against Stars Cabaret-Bridgeport.
Representatives from several homeowners associations spoke in support of any campaign to stop the strip club. Randy Farrell, who oversees 15 Motel 6 sites, noted his company's concern that Stars Cabaret patrons could negatively impact the motel on McEwan Drive from a security and safety standpoint. Some residents worried about prostitution.
River Grove Elementary School Principal Nancy Verstegen thanked the crowd for its support. School and Lake Oswego School District officials are concerned about the proximity of the new strip club to River grove Elementary - less than .8 mile. It also would be directly across the street from the 24-Hour Fitness Club and just across I-5 from upscale Bridgeport Village .
Stars Cabaret-Bridgeport's business and liquor license applications for the 17939 S.W. McEwan Road are still pending with the city of Tualatin. The Stars Cabaret-Bridgeport is waiting to finalize a lease based on whether it receives a liquor license or not.
The city's liquor license recommendation is tentatively set to go before the city council on Oct. 27. Then the Oregon Liquor Control Commission will make the ultimate decision on whether to approve a liquor license for Stars Cabaret-Bridgeport which has six licensees listed - including Stars franchise owner Randy Kaiser.
Kaiser previously said the business will be similar to the Stars Cabaret and Steak House he owns in Beaverton. The business will feature adult entertainment in the 'standard Oregon practice' - full nude.
A sign posted on the Out of the Blues Broiler Bar and Billiards Restaurant on McEwan Road informing passers-by of the business change over to Stars Cabaret-Bridgeport and a pending Oregon Liquor Control Commission decision has caught the attention of residents.
Kaiser expected some level of objection with the proposed move into the local community.
'But it's very easy to defend myself,' Kaiser said. 'I have nothing to be ashamed of. We will run a responsible business.'
And this wouldn't be the first adult entertainment club in Tualatin, and it won't even be the first one located along I-5 in Tualatin.
The Jiggles sign has been an eyesore to city officials who loathe its purple glowing, night time hue that welcomes motorists as they take Tualatin's 289 exit.
'The problem is we live in Oregon.'
About 45-minutes into Tuesday's public meeting, a resident stood up and said, 'I get the feeling you're telling us there isn't any way to stop this.'
Barring some discovery of the licensees' persistent violations of liquor laws, OLCC and city officials agreed that there wasn't much that citizens could do to have the Stars Cabaret-Bridgeport liquor license denied.
The city of Tualatin has contracted with BEH law office in Portland for legal guidance in handling the proposed Stars Cabaret-Bridgeport. In a legal brief BEH informed the city that its conditional-use permit restrictions for strip clubs would likely not hold up to legal challenges.
Municipalities in Oregon began taking a whole new approach to strip clubs after a court ruling in 2002 that said activities in strip clubs were protected under the Oregon Constitution.
And because the acts conducted in strip clubs are considered freedom of speech, a municipality, county or state law cannot stop the provocative businesses from operating anywhere they want.
'The problem is, we live in Oregon,' Beikman said. 'The frustration is the city can't do anything. OLCC can't do anything. But we as citizens are very powerful. We need to make a plan.'
Out of Tuesday night's public meeting, Beikman was looked upon as an unofficial leader. She and Dolores Cranley, a resident of unincorporated Clackamas County on McEwan Road, will take charge in organizing efforts to protest Stars Cabaret-Bridgeport.
The plans include:
n Petitions to be submitted to the Tualatin City Council and the OLCC.
n Creation of a Web site dedicated to opposing Stars Cabaret-Bridgeport (www.saynotosobs.com is under development).
n Letter-writing campaigns to local elected officials asking for help in changing the laws that prevent cities from regulating where strip clubs can operate.
n Picketing at current and future sites of Stars Cabaret. There are three other sites in Oregon - in Bend, Salem and Beaverton.