The owners of an Adam & Eve sex novelty franchise store in Oklahoma City face a September 21 court date after a failed attempt to get a city ordinance changed.
“We are simple business owners and not criminals,” co-owner Andrew Ryerson Gonzalez told Free Press December, 2017.
He and husband Lennox Ryerson Gonzalez, the other owner, will go to trial in OKC Municipal Court on a misdemeanor charge of operating an “adult novelty store” within 1,000 feet of a residential zone.
The citation was issued to their company, Wolffelk Corporation, for one of their newest shops opened Nov 17, 2017, at 2905 NW 70th Street in Oklahoma City.
City code enforcement staff say they received a complaint about the store’s proximity to a residential neighborhood soon after it opened.
The citation was issued March 26 and filed May 17. They have been arraigned, fined $178, and are now preparing to go to trial.
They have operated a franchise of the Adam & Eve chain in Norman for several years and both told Free Press they had “a great relationship with the Norman City Council” when it came to zoning and getting along with city inspectors there.
But, it has not been the same for them inside the City of Oklahoma City limits.
The city claims they received a complaint because the store was only about 100 feet away from the nearest house in the neighborhood.
Article 30 of the Oklahoma City Municipal Code prohibits such shops from being any closer than 1,000 feet.
According to Charles Locke, superintendent of Code Enforcement with the City of Oklahoma City, he and some other staff advised the couple to first appeal to the Board of Adjustment to see if they could get a variance.
If their company had received the variance, that could have solved their problem.
But, the owners told the group they would just take the issue to the City Council instead, Locke told Free Press.
During December, 2017 and the first quarter of 2018, the owners worked with Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid to convince other Council members that the ordinance was unreasonable and unevenly enforced.
Shadid argued in the December 19, 2017 meeting of the Council that Article 30 is left over from the 1970s and is unevenly enforced.
“If a neighbor complains, then we enforce it. That cannot be the standard of justice and fairness,” Shadid told the Council during its December 19, 2017 meeting.
“We have a situation where if neighbors or somebody complains, we execute the law, and if nobody complains, you don’t have to be in compliance with the law.”
He cited several other sex novelty shops in the city that are clearly not in compliance with the 1,000-foot prohibition.
But Shadid also argued that the ordinance has so many things “adult novelty shops” cannot be near “basically, it’s the whole city.”
City Manager Jim Couch responded to Shadid.
“There’s an underlying principle that was a policy of this council years ago and that’s not to put adult novelty stores next to residential areas. And if we want to change that’s the council’s clearly policy right to do that.”
“So we can talk about the specifics of the outdated language and it may be outdated,” Couch said. “But we’ve got to decide from a fundamental standpoint, do we want the overarching principle to change? That’s a policy issue for the council.”
In the end, the majority of the Council didn’t agree with the arguments being made for change and the ordinances remain as they were.