No Zoning Violation in|Art House Porn Festival

     (CN) – A movie theater did not become an adult-entertainment business by hosting a three-day “Pornotopia” film festival in 2008, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled.
     Albuquerque had found that Pangaea Cinema LLC violated zoning law by hosting the “Pornotopia” festival at its art-house movie theater, The Guild Cinema, one weekend in November 2008.
     Though the three-day festival increased business traffic in the Nob Hill neighborhood, it did not lead to an increase in crime.
     After two zoning inspectors viewed a film called “Couch Surfers: Trans Men in Action,” the city issued a violation for operating an “adult amusement establishment” in an improper zone.
     A municipal judge, district court and appellate panel all ruled in favor of the city on the zoning violation, but the divided New Mexico Supreme Court reversed last month.
     The nine-page majority ruling notes that The Guild shows pornographic movies no more than once per year.
     “It has none of the trappings of an adult theater; there are no neon signs proclaiming ‘Girls! Girls! Girls!’ or ‘XXX,'” Justice Edward Chavez wrote for the majority. “Nothing about the Guild appears to be seedy, unsavory or likely to drive down property values.”
     Chavez and the three concurring justices added that “the Guild is simply not an adult entertainment establishment in the ordinary meaning of the term. If we were to stand on Central Avenue and ask pedestrians for directions to the nearest adult theater, it is unlikely that they would direct us to the Guild.”
     Under the city’s reasoning, a lecture hall at the University of New Mexico would become an “adult amusement establishment” if a professor showed a pornographic film during a class on human sexuality, according to the ruling.
     “One weekend of erotic films per year does not an adult theater make,” Chavez wrote.
     Chief Justice Petra Jimenez Maes dissented from her colleagues.
     “Like counsel for the city, I wonder why there is a need to allow the Guild to have individual showings of adult films when the city has decided to zone this activity,” she wrote.

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