YAKIMA - Yakima County commissioners hit the pause button Tuesday morning, approving a six-month moratorium on processing licenses sought by adult businesses in unincorporated areas.
The action applies to those seeking permits to establish new adult businesses, not those already in existence. It impacts areas of the county outside city limits, such as Outlook and East Valley.
County Commissioner Rand Elliott is from District 3, which includes the Sunnyside area, and he said the moratorium was imposed because of a recent court case in Yakima, which has an adult business ordinance similar to the county's.
That legal action struck down a portion of the city's adult business ordinance stipulating a building official must consider whether a proposed adult business is compatible with neighboring buildings or businesses.
"The judge found that was not an objective measure," Elliott explained. "You san say these (adult) businesses have to be in a certain zone, but you can't say whether it's compatible with a neighboring business."
With Yakima County's adult business ordinance also containing language about compatibility with neighboring buildings and businesses, Elliott said commissioners felt it was time to revisit the policy.
"We don't want someone to jump into the fray (against Yakima County) in light of this court decision," he said.
Calling it an "abundance of caution," Elliott said the county will likely have its adult business ordinance reworded well before the six month moratorium expires.
Adult businesses can include adult book and magazine stores, as well as some dance lounges and clubs, depending on how much clothing is worn.