Bob Davis seemed to think he had outmaneuvered the city when in 2010 he turned a University District comedy club into a "gentleman's" establishment featuring nude dancers. While Davis' Jiggles was located near a school, despite a zoning ordinance that requires a buffer zone between such venues and facilities for kids, the crafty entrepreneur said he had a city license for the place that was procured before the ordinance went into effect.
Not exactly, said the state Court of Appeals as it up upheld a lower court decision that allowed the city to shut Jiggles down.
First of all, Davis' original application for a city license, filed back in May of 2007, before the zoning ordinance at issue went on the books, listed a SODO address for what was then to be called the "Elegance Gentleman's Club." It was not until December of that same year that Davis filed a license application with the University District address. By then, the city had created its buffer zone requirement, according to the appeals court ruling.
Secondly, the court noted that what Davis had so proudly obtained was "simply a general business license." And the application for said license itself states that "a business license does not authorize the holder to conduct business in violation of any zoning ordinance." To confirm that he was meeting the city's zoning codes, Davis was obliged to go through a second bureaucratic process by filing something called a master use permit application.
Still, Davis had another card up his sleeve. Entrepreneurs trading in sexualized entertainment love to cite the First Amendment and Davis is no exception. He charged that the city's zoning approval process violates free speech protection because it takes up to 120 days for a determination--a time period Davis characterized as unreasonable.
Adult cabarets are indeed protected by the First Amendment, the court noted. But it also pointed out that the city isn't taking that long just on applications for risque businesses. The 120-day time-frame applies to all projects, and in the court's opinion is perfectly reasonable.
So Jiggles is still history. Davis' attorney, Kristin Olson, could not be reached yesterday to find out whether her client might appeal further to the state Supreme Court.