Bob Davis Takes His Jiggles Fight to Court, Says City Already Licensed His Stripclub (Update)

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Update, March 12: King County Superior Court Judge Suzanne Barnett yesterday sided with City Hall and agreed nudie-dance-club owner Bob Davis failed to abide by the bureaucratic process to open a strip joint. It is only a preliminary bout to a bigger fight in federal court, where Davis is also challenging the city's nudie-dance ordinances. Approving the city's motion for a permanent injunction, Barnett ordered Davis' Jiggles night spot to close down effective immediately. Davis had argued that city's permitting process violated the First Amendment.

March 3 - After a decade of trying, Bob Davis finally has his own nudie dance club, financed in part by taxpayers. He earned $850,000 suing the cities of Seattle and Bothell for refusing to give him strip-club licenses in years past, and in 2007 forced City Hall to lift its moratorium on new downtown strip clubs. But he ran into a buzzsaw of zoning codes at least four times attempting to open a club himself. Neighbors always objected and there were usually schools nearby.

Then one day last December, he quietly stocked Giggles comedy club in the U District with nude dancers and flug open the doors to the renamed Jiggles strip club. Now of course the city wants him out of there, too.

But in an ongoing court action, Davis says he has a solid case this time: The city issued him an "Adult Entertainment Club with Live Nude Dancers and Food Service" license for the U-District space in 2007 and he has renewed it ever since.

In papers filed yesterday in King County Superior Court, Davis contends part of the city's adult cabaret ordinance is unconstitutional and that while the laws have changed in recent years regarding operation of strip clubs, his license precedes such changes and has been re-approved annually.

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The city says the license, despite its title, doesn't grant Davis the right to open a nudie joint and he must comply with several land-use requirements including, again, one preventing him from operating near a school (The University Child Development School is directly across the street). He also needs approval from police, fire, and health officials to run the cabaret, the city contends.

Davis considers those bureaucratic requirements a prior restraint on his business and his First Amendment right of expression. Davis' attorney Randy Barnard says the Supreme Court has cited "two evils that will not be tolerated" when the government imposes such restraints. They are:

(1) A prior restraint scheme that places unbridled discretion in the hands of a government official and (2) a prior restraint scheme that fails to place reasonable limits on the time within which the decision maker must issue the license.

City Hall, in one of its many letters to Davis, told him he needed this permit and that permit "as any citizen" would, and though he has a business license, that does not entitle him to open "without obtaining the other regulatory approvals that apply," including a master-use permit.

The cumulative effect is an unholy imposition, argues Barnard, who notes that the city approved a new Deja Vu club in the SoDo district which did not requires a master-use permit. The city actually joined with Deja Vu and its owner Roger Forbes in court to fight off a challenge to that club, Dreamgirls, brought unsuccessfully by the Mariners, who thought the club was a moral blight to its baseball fans.

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In that case the city said Forbes followed all the rules and in this case the city says Davis is breaking the rules. Still, he has that "live nude" license they kept renewing, and while a hearing is set for next Friday in which the city is seeking an injunction to close down the club, he is now in his fourth month and Jiggles is still jiggling.

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