Northwest NEWS

August 3, 1998

Front Page

Bothell council to review adult facilities regs

   by Andrew Walgamott
   Staff reporter

   BOTHELL--It has an innocuous enough sounding name,Castle Superstore,but last week Bothell joined the rush of cities who are keeping the Arizona-based sex shop at arms' length for now.
   Just eight hours before their traditional August break, the Bothell City Council convened to adopt an emergency 60-day moratorium that means the city will stop accepting applications for adult entertainment facilities.
   Earlier in the week, Interim City Manager Mike Caldwell said the moratorium would give Bothell time to figure out how to mitigate the affects a Castle store might have, such as on parking, if they were to locate in town.
   "We would be remiss if the city didn't attempt to regulate a business like that," Caldwell said.
   The size of the store worries some. The company bills itself as "Earth's largest adultstore" on its website. Their Tacoma store is located in a former Olympic Sports building.
   Bothell joins Bellevue, Renton, Shoreline and Federal Way in adopting similar suspensions or are considering reviewing their regulations as they apply to sex stores.
   Castle reportedly wants to triple the number of outlets it has in Washington and Arizona over the next year, but company president Taylor Coleman termed fears about his business as "totally irrational," and said a "small group of people are trying to control other folks' access to material."
   Still, Councilman Mike Noblet, speaking to existing rules, said the move would "buy us time to make sure we have something that is fair and defensible."
   Noblet, along with Council members Sandy Guinn, Jeff Merrill and Wendy Brady, and Mayor Debbie Treen voted in favor of the moratorium. Council members Terry Olsen and Jeanne Edwards were not in attendance.
   The council scheduled a public hearing for Sept. 21 and will either continue or cancel the moratorium afterwards.
   Caldwell said due to First Amendment rights Bothell could not ban stores like Castle.
   What they can do is regulate them through zoning, though. Currently in Bothell, adult entertainment businesses can only locate along a narrow strip on the west side of Bothell Way near Tommy Africa's.
   Coleman said Castle likes to locate with retail as a Staples, Petsmart or Borders Books would.
   "We put together a high quality retail store. There's no arcade, no theater, no preview booths, no entertainment whatsoever," Coleman said of the eight-store Phoenix-based chain. He said they were well-lit establishments where 45 percent of the customers are couples and single women.
   Coleman described the typical 17,000 square-foot store as one where customers would find cards, lingerie, potions, lotions and condoms in the front, and books, magazines, toys, leather goods and videos further in.
   "People come in, they laugh, they giggle, they fantasize and they have a good time," he said.
   But Bothell's top official characterized the city's move as "proactive."
   "We're not going to sit and wait for something to happen," Caldwell said. "I think what could happen is they come into the community, purchase an option on Safeway, challenge our ordinances and have the courts throw them out. Guess where the store would be? That's a real concern."
   Coleman said he had never even heard of Bothell.
   With a zone for sexually oriented businesses established, Woodinville currently has no plans for a moratorium, Jim Katica, interim city manager, said last Friday.
   Nearly half of all Castle stores can be found in Washington; outlets are already in Tacoma, Silverdale and Spokane. The company has four stores in and around Phoenix and one in Albuquerque.
   To Coleman, he's merely supplying the market with what he says are constitutionally protected products.
   "This is 1998 ... People are looking to enhance their sensuality and their romantic lives," Coleman said.
   While the cities' actions have effectively kept Castle from expanding here, he noted, "Moratoriums don't last forever."