By Edwin Folven, 7/12/2012
County Supervisors likely to let voters decide the issue
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors expressed an intent Tuesday to place a countywide measure on the November ballot to require condom use in adult films, but deferred making a final decision until July 24.
The ballot initiative was under consideration after the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) announced last week that more than 360,000 signatures had been collected, far more than the approximately 232,000 signatures needed to place the issue on the ballot. The supervisors are required to approve countywide ballot initiatives, but wanted more time to discuss the details of how such a measure would be implemented, if approved.
“I am going to support putting this initiative on the ballot. It should go on the ballot, and we should let the people decide the issue,” said L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, 3rd District. “The issue itself is very complicated. If the people approve this and it becomes law, there will be the issue of how do we enforce it.”
AHF’s call for a ballot initiative followed the Los Angeles City Council’s approval in January of an ordinance that requires condom usage in pornographic films. Although the ordinance was signed into law, the city is still working out the details of enforcement. Michael Weinstein, president of AHF, said the countywide ballot initiative would extend the requirement to unincorporated areas of the county and other cities not covered under the City of Los Angeles ordinance. When the Los Angeles ordinance was enacted, some pornographic film producers reportedly claimed they would simply take production outside of the city. A countywide initiative would apply everywhere in L.A. County except the cities of Long Beach, Pasadena and Vernon, which have their own public health departments.
“The county is the primary entity responsible when it comes to disease control,” Weinstein said. “This will address the issue of them running away to another city.”
Yaroslavsky said the enforcement of such an ordinance could be tricky, because many porn film producers make their films in clandestine locations. The initiative calls for a fee to be charged when porn film producers apply for permits, but it could be difficult to enforce the law if the film producers make their movies without obtaining permits.
“We are getting into how effective would this be,” Yaroslavsky said. “Are we going to have to hire an army of code enforcement officers to track down every porn film shoot in the county? This is not an industry where you find an abundance of people applying for permits. Most of this is done below the radar.”
Weinstein said the important thing is for the county to put a law in place to require condom usage in the films, and the details of how to enforce the regulations could be worked out later. He added that such a law is needed not only to stop the spread of AIDS, but primarily other sexually transmitted diseases that are more commonly passed between adult film performers.
“If you open a restaurant, you need a permit, so this would create the same rules for adult films.”
Representatives of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health refused to comment, citing that the ballot initiative is the same as pending legislation. Yaroslavsky added that he foresees the initiative being confirmed for the ballot at the July 24 meeting.