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Sex in the City

Neighbors Fight Possible Porn Shop

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At the corner of NE 95th and Sandy, a nondescript low-rise building is for sale; a sign out front boasts 5,200 square feet of space. An ad in a local adult entertainment magazine touts something else: "Adult-Friendly Retail Space... Great Location for Adult Night Club, Store, Etc. Don't Miss This Opportunity!"

Neighbors who live near the property certainly didn't miss the opportunity—they gathered at a nearby coffee shop on Thursday night, April 19, to discuss stopping the sale or rental of the building to an adult-oriented business.

Pastor Eric Bahme—of Eastside Portland Foursquare, which runs the coffee shop and an adjacent motel—bounded onto the room's small stage to kick off the meeting.

"There's no way they can put an adult entertainment complex in next to an apartment complex, in a neighborhood, and near a church," Bahme told the nearly 100-strong crowd. "We as neighbors would fight it."

Oregon's strong free-speech laws currently protect adult entertainment, and limit what neighbors are able to do—despite their frustration with the city's "the highest per capita sex businesses west of the Mississippi," reputation, according to a Portland police vice officer at the meeting.

But neighbors are undeterred. "If we can stop big-box stores from coming in, we can fight this. We can crowd city hall. We can do it," rallied Eileen Stocker, who owns Steamers Restaurant and Lounge at NE 83rd and Sandy.

"We have a wider issue that is an Oregon issue that we need to address," added Bahme, who helped launched a group called Oregon Porn Law, which aims to keep adult businesses away from schools, churches, and daycares.

"But we also have a local issue right here that affects your neighborhood." To that end, neighbors plan on heading to city hall to plead their case.

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