Should a sex shop be allowed in Uptown?

A couple of years ago, I had this short-lived obsession with how Oakland needed a Good Vibrations in Uptown.

It started when I read an article somewhere about…well, honestly, I don’t remember very many details about it. I don’t even remember enough to make it worth taking a stab at trying to locate it to link to. But it was about some neighborhood that used to be dead and now is like super hip and thriving and so on. Maybe in New York or something, I can’t remember. Anyway, someone in the article, maybe a real estate broker or something, talked about how one of the things they did to try to make the neighborhood more marketable was to bring in all these sex shops, which this broker or whoever reasoned were good for the area’s image because they made it seem edgy. I realize that may not sound like it makes a ton of sense, but that’s only because I can remember so few of the details. It sounded totally reasonable in context.

Shortly afterwards, a friend from out of state came to visit me. And what was the number one thing on her agenda for her Bay Area vacation? A trip to Good Vibrations. Seriously. They don’t have classy sex shops where she was from. We ended up spending well over an hour there, and she easily dropped more than a thousand dollars.

And that’s when I decided we needed a Good Vibrations in Uptown. At that time, Uptown was full of potential, and not a whole lot else. Cafe Van Kleef was there, of course. The Fox Theater and Uptown Apartments were on the way, but there wasn’t much in the way of eating, and the shopping options were pretty much limited to the world’s worst Sears, a couple pawn shops and wig stores, and Bibliomania, which I of course love, but doesn’t exactly draw huge crowds to the neighborhood.

I reasoned that Good Vibrations would be the perfect store to stick on Telegraph because it’s the type of store people will travel to go shop at, and being so conveniently located near BART would make it an even bigger draw. Plus, their clientele probably has more disposable income than the people who go to the pawn shops, so I figured bringing those customers in would give a spillover boost to other businesses in the area, assuming any ever opened.

I babbled about it to anyone who would listen for about a week, and even made some effort to contact Good Vibrations to make the pitch, but since back then I didn’t know how to do anything, my efforts never got very far. Soon, I got bored with the idea and decided that what my neighborhood really needed to take off was to get Amoeba Music to move here.

Feelmore Adult Boutiuqe

So you can imagine my delight when I saw an item on this past Wednesday’s Planning Commission agenda about a Good Vibrations style sex shop opening up at 17th and Telegraph. Here’s a little description of the store from the staff report (PDF):

The applicant is modeling this activity after “Good Vibrations” in San Francisco and Berkeley, and other similar Adult retail stores. The business would sell adult sex toys, books, videos etc. from wall shelves, and provide room for small seminars on sexual health education. Larger educational and social groups coordinated by the business would meet at off-site locations in a convention format. The primary market is women aged 25 to 44, although other groups of adults would not be prevented for visiting. There is an adults-only entry policy. There are no massage, clothing-optional or direct sexual activities proposed. The business proposes to operate 7 days a week from 11 am to 11 pm, although midnight on weekends may be requested later.

It would be located on Telegraph, right past the intersection at 17th Street.

The store, called “Feelmore,” had to go to the Planning Commission for two reasons. One, sex shops (“Adult Entertainment Activity” in planning-speak) always require a Conditional Use Permit (CUP). Plus, they aren’t allowed within 1,000 feet of a residential zone or within 500 feet of a school. Since this store, at 17th and Telegraph, would be located less than 500 feet away from the Oakland School for the Arts and is also within 1,000 feet of the residential zone containing the Uptown Apartments, it also needed a variance.

I thought the whole issue was pretty interesting, and I kept sitting down all last weekend trying to write a blog post about it. But I kept having trouble with it. After all, you need conflict to tell a good story, and there just didn’t seem to be much of that here. After all, the City didn’t seem to think this is much of a problem. From the staff report (PDF):

In addition, the downtown area, especially nearby along Telegraph and Broadway above 14th Street, has seen a transformation within the last 10 years with an influx of bars, restaurants and residential units (catering primarily to young professionals). At least 2 bars within 6 blocks of the location cater primarily to a gay clientele. Given this transformation, it is not unreasonable to introduce a low-key retail establishment catering to adult items and sensuality. With the business model of the applicant, along with conditions of approval as accepted by the applicant, this Adult retail activity should not have adverse impacts at this location.

Additionally, the City received a number of letters of support (PDF) from acquaintances testifying to the owner’s character and work ethic. Not all of them are particularly persuasive (my favorite begins “I know that I may not be a California resident…”), but many specifically address how this store would benefit Oakland. Like, for example, helping stem our retail leakage:

As it stands if I require intimate adult products I go to San Francisco or Berkeley to make my purchases. I am thus supporting the economic growth of another city because my city does not provide this basic service.

But even though everyone seems to love the woman opening this store, and even though this particular shop is expected to be a classy operation, with flowers in the windows so on, I thought I might be able to make something of it, since issuing the CUP and variance for it is not without risk.

The catch

You see, Feelmore could close. It could be a failure and shut down, or it could be such a massive success that it needs to expand beyond its little 750 square feet and therefore perhaps move to a new location. And when that happens, since this particular location already has a CUP for adult entertainment, a seedier sex shop could potentially lease the space and move in. From the staff report (PDF):

However, a Conditional Use Permit and Variance runs with the land, not with any particular business. If “FeelMore” is successful and grows out of this space to relocate (or closes), this space could accept an Adult Entertainment Activity which meets the same conditions of approval. The applicant reports a 5 year lease, renewable to 5 more years. Under the First Amendment, the City could not censor content, only “time, place and manner” of business. Thus a store for a niche market of women customers could be replaced by the type of general Adult store familiar from other cities. Such stores have been reported to have blighting effects.

Youth Radio, across the street, submitted a letter opposing the application because of this risk. From their letter (PDF):

Youth Radio has performed due diligence investigating into the business philosophy and practices of Feelmore Inc. By all accounts the owner of Feelmore Inc. appears to be a positive, local, small-business owner who we would traditionally support. The concern in the permit issuance is rooted in the possibility of the retail space being vacated in the future and potentially sold to a less ethical business owner who would retain the adult entertainmnet permit. At around 750 square feet, the retail space could be outgrown quickly, especially with the expressed plans for the space being used for sex education workshops and the store being the only of its kind in Oakland.

Reading that, I was kind of sad to think that we’re so afraid of nuisance businesses in Oakland that we would feel the need to prevent good ones from opening.

The solution

But as much as I tried to sympathize with their fear of what could eventually happen, I still couldn’t agree with their position. After all, the approval of this store comes with a number of stringent conditions — they’re not allowed to have booths for private video viewing, they can’t frost or black out their window glass, they have to keep the adult items on display only in the back half of the store, they can’t put gross posters in their windows, and so on.

Since these conditions would apply to any adult entertainment business wanting to open up in the space, I just couldn’t see how anything bad could come from the approval. The staff report concurs:

Successor businesses using the CUP may not have the same self-regulation and benefits but would be subject to CUP conditions. Conditions of approval would precisely describe the business as presented by “FeelMore.” Conditions would help to prevent transition into a different kind of business with potentially more impacts.

So I kind of gave up on writing about it, since no matter how I tried, it just never seemed to go anywhere. I felt like I would be manufacturing controversy where none existed.

DAMN, WAS I WRONG.

The hearing

So this came to the Planning Commission on Wednesday, and the hearing lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes. You can watch a video of the whole thing below:

When all these people e-mailed me on Wednesday to say I just had to get the video of this hearing, I assumed that it was going to be all cute and funny, like that time at the San Francisco Planning Commission when they were talking about how to help industrial businesses and this guy started waving around a dildo as an example of quality goods manufactured in the City.

But it was not funny at all. In fact, I found it kind of upsetting.

A number of speakers showed up to oppose the store, mostly because of the negative impacts it would have on kids going to and from Youth Radio and First Place for Youth, two organizations that I think are great and do really wonderful work.

I’m not sure what exactly I expect them to say, but it sure as hell wasn’t what they did talk about, which was sexually exploited minors, child trafficking, and prostitution, and how the teenagers they work with need to be protected from such things, and how damaged these kids would be if they were exposed to this store and the element it attracts.

OMFG. I was floored. I mean, I guess, if I try really hard, I could imagine some reasonable objections that people working with youth could make to the idea of having their facilities near a sex shop. But to bring up the sexual abuse and trafficking of children as though this discussion has anything whatsoever to do with that? That’s outrageous. And just completely wrong. And really offensive.

So I was actually really happy when Commissioner Michael Colbruno just straight up scolded them.

Lately, I have been trying to be more sympathetic to people who oppose things. Like, even when they sound totally nuts, I’ve been really trying to think about what’s making them so crazy and what is it exactly that they’re afraid of. So normally I think I would find such stern comments kind of over the top. But in this case, I thought they were completely justified.

As far as I’m concerned, children whose exposure to sex has been exclusively negative (whether just through witnessing the horrifying amount of child prostitution that happens on Oakland’s streets or from more scarring personal experiences) can only benefit from exposure to an establishment that treats sex as a positive thing and a normal part of normal people’s lives that is consensual and enjoyable for all parties involved.

The puritanism on display was simply astonishing. Opposition to Feelmore wasn’t limited to the nearby youth service organizations. One woman who came to the meeting for an entirely different item felt compelled to get up and jump on the anti-pornography bandwagon.

And then, most surprising to me, the Downtown/Uptown Business District sent a representative to talk about how the store was inappropriate for downtown, because this supposed to be an art and entertainment district.

I don’t get it. Does the business district think sex is not entertaining? Maybe they’re doing it wrong, in which case they might benefit from some of the educational aspects of Feelmore’s business plan.

Look. You cannot keep kids away from sex, no matter how much you may want to. They don’t have to go looking for obscene video on the internet to be exposed to it — you cannot even walk into any store that sells magazines without seeing right there on the display racks shit like Maxim or whatever all chock full of photographs of barely covered women being portrayed as sex objects and nothing more.

And I don’t have anything against Maxim or whatever, but I do think it’s important, when we talk about what kind of impact a store like this will have on youth who walk by, to remember that kids are constantly bombarded with sexual imagery in all forms of media, and it’s also important to remember that very little of that imagery treats women as real people with real sexual needs of their own that merit attention and consideration. Stores like this one offer a healthy counterpoint to those portrayals.

I remember the first time I went to a classy sex shop. I was seventeen, and had just moved from Houston to Portland for college. The girls in my dorm all took a little trip together to this store called It’s My Pleasure. It was amazing! I had never even imagined that such a place could exist, where you could go and talk to the staff and ask all these questions I had and the women there would just be nice to you and answer you honestly and without judgement. Isn’t that better for young women than only being able to get answers about sex from boys who want something from them? We should celebrate businesses like this, not fear them.

After all, as Commission C. Blake Huntsman put it, “we’re all here because someone multiplied.”

The Commission ending up approving the CUP and variance for Feelmore unanimously.

41 thoughts on “Should a sex shop be allowed in Uptown?

  1. Brian W.

    Thank you for writing about this. I’ve been looking forward to FeelMore coming to the neighborhood since my partner heard about it from friends a couple of months ago. I understand that the owner is an alum of the very comprehensive and sex-positive San Francisco Sex Information, which does an amazing job (on a shoestring budget) of providing safe, confidential, non-judgmental answers to sex questions from people calling and emailing from around the world, for thirty-eight years. I am pleased to know that the CUP and variance were approved, and, had it occurred to me that there might have been any opposition, I would have been at the Commission meeting myself, to voice my support for this wonderful new business in my neighborhood. I’m glad that it passed, even despite the opposition.

    Regards,

    ~B

  2. Karen Smulevitz

    Good Vibrations is a store of quality that is offensive to no one. I was also somewhat concerned about lower quality porno purveyers from turning Telegraph into a seedy Times Square type of district, but I’m sure with so many avid Uptown supporters advocating for its soundness, the planning process will weed out inappropiate businesses. Downtown and Temescal used to have porn movie houses that drew an “undesirable” clientele, but now there is only one, more discreet, on Telegraph. You gotta go into DeLauer’s to see smut on Magazine covers, and that’s more embarassing for kids to see than FeelMore.

  3. ralph

    I haven’t finished listening to all of the video but I have come to the distinct conclusion that RK did not finish all her work with code changes. A Good Vibrations like store should under no circumstances be classified as adult entertainment. GV is clearly different than the Adult Video stores that can be at 2nd & Broadway, in Chinatown, and 24th & Telegraph.

    GV sells books, harnesses, has a small video selection, safer sex supplies, and other sexual aids and provides information. If this store is anything like that than we should be fortunate to have one in Oakland. She may have avoided some controversy if she operated standard retail hours. She may also want to get rid of the Parlor portion of the name.

    I do not understand the people talking sex trafficking. They have absolutely no idea what they are talking about as it relates to this business. As to the pornography issue, I point the people back to the 3 adult superstore located in a 2.5 mi stretch from JLS to the Uptown.

  4. ralph

    Does anyone know how GV is classified either in SF or Berkeley? I tried to google the info but to no avail.

  5. ralph

    Karen,
    24th and Telegraph, 2nd & Broadway, and the one Chinatown adult store are each individually seedier than Times Square. None of these stores is discreet.

  6. Naomi Schiff

    The historic perspective: Golden Gate Bookshop, an old-fashioned dirty books, sex stuff and videos establishment, operated in the Fox Oakland Theater retail shop at the corner of 18th and Telegraph through the 1980s and into the 1990s.They paid enough rent to pay all or most of Mrs. DeLucchi’s mortgage. I remember when one time she doubled their rent. They didn’t really mind (they were doing well) but enquired as to whether she was trying to get rid of them. When the city bought it, Mayor Harris found a way to end their lease, as it seemed too weird to have them as a city tenant. I’ll look for an old photo to post; likely I have one. We had our office nearby, and were amused by all the businessmen who felt they had to park a little distance around the corner, not right next to the store.

  7. CornDog

    Neena’s speech is moving. I believe in her because she believes so much in hard work, and opportunity. I hope she succeeds and her dreams are realized.

  8. livegreen

    I’m fine with the business, but I’m not with the location, because:
    a) What could come after it;
    b) Even with all the controls you mention, there is one important challenge for Oakland & OPD nobody has mentioned: Enforcement.

    OPD and code enforcement are simply too strapped to enforce many laws & regulations. There is no way they are going to have the time or the resources if this business or another at that location starts doing things they’re not supposed to.

    As an example, do you have any idea how hard it is to get rid of a liquor store? Did you follow how hard it was for North Oaklanders to terminate NicNak, against the politicians on the Planning Commission?

    Also, following the saga of a liquor store on one of the PSA listserves, the store exchanged the names on it’s permit, enabling renewal, without displaying the required applications (according to neighbors) yet certified to officials that it has done just that. A store that neighbors have had problems with and is only two blocks from Oakland High.

    By the time neighbors learned of the situation the new permits were already approved.

    There are simply too many ways for unsavory businesses to set-up and continue in this city.

    Again, I have nothing against the business, and I agree with V and many of you that it is healthy. It is the low-priority of enforcement, combined with being located near a school, should subsequent businesses not abide by the law that is the problem.

  9. livegreen

    Michael Colbruno does make some good points about the business in question.

    So does the representative from the UT business district. “Who from the City of Oakland will be monitoring this…5 years from now, 2 years from now?”. Nobody.

  10. Chris Kidd

    It amuses me to no end that the same people who complain that Oakland is too “anti-business” aren’t willing to support a new business, not because they object to the business itself, but because of “what *might* come in the future”. Well, in that case, let’s never do anything; there might be an adverse consequence.

  11. ralph

    I would think that the city could avoid such controversy by not classifying this as an adult business. This is something that the city needs to visit immediately.

    GV sells videos but it is not as if 70% of their floor space is devoted to adult video sales like the 3 AV stores from JLS to Uptown.

    GV sells educational books such as Dossie Easton’s, The Loving Dominant. Adult stores carry magazines none of which I would call educational.

    GV sells quality adult sex aids. Adult stores sell cheap toys and I doubt anyone in the store can tell you why some would be better than others.

    GV is staffed by knowledgeable employees, who know the benefits of every item in the store. I would say they are no different than a Keplers’ employee who can speak to you at length about the books on the shelf. Your average adult store employee knows how to work a register and sweep.

    GV does not have a video arcade whereas you avg adult store does.

    GV sells condoms as does Safeway.

    Oakland can use its own GV, or Mr. S Leather and Madame S Boutique.

    So again, I hope Ms. Kaplan takes up this code issue. GV and stores like it are for the most part retail stores not unlike a Borders and good for the community.

    If there is a store on Telegraph that is a detriment to the community it is the pawn shop.

  12. Daniel Schulman

    @Livegreen the issue of enforcement was taken up. I believe it was Commissioner Colbruno who mentioned it was the same youth serving organizations and business district representatives who should keep an eye on compliance. While everyone shouldn’t be always getting up in everyone else’s business, they are the best people on the ground to spot problems.

  13. Navigator

    From the picture above, that’s one awful and blighted building. I suppose if it’s done in good taste, it’s better than having a dark, empty, unattractive, blighted building sitting at that corner.

    Would I preffer something else like another restaraunt, club, or boutique? Yes.
    However, downtown Oakland still has too many empty and dark buildings on prominent intersections. I don’t want Uptown to become Broadway in SF, but beggers can’t be choosers.

    I went to Plum last night, and while the restaraunt was doing good business, the immediate area was pretty dead. Even a business like Bakesale Betty on the prominent corner of Grand & Broadway only opening for lunch, really has a chilling effect on that corner just like they do at 51st & Telegraph.

    Uptown still has a ways to go and if we can brighten up one more storefront until 11:00 PM, then so be it.

  14. Daniel Schulman

    Ralph I agree with you that the categorization of this business is a bit strange. Since as I understand the business model, it is not proposed that any actual sex will take place on the premises, so I would not call it a “sex business.”

    Wouldn’t this be like calling a book store, a “read store;” a grocery store, a “don’t be hungry store;” or a cannabis dispensary, a “higher than a kite store.”

    If the youth workers and businesses are really scared of sex, they should probably rally against the residential developments because I think there is a lot more jiggy going on in the condos and apartments in the area. Oh wait! those NIMBY’s are ok with what consenting adults do behind closed doors. Oh wait again! the proposed business is all going to take place behind closed doors.

    Dang, the more I think about this issue, the more confused I get. Why are people against this business again?

  15. livegreen

    I agree with Ralph.
    Daniel, Colbruno was out of touch with that comment: Organizations & citizens do NOT enforce compliance. They can only document problems. It takes months or years for citizens to mobilize and the City to build a case against a problem business. And that is only after citizens are mobilized and IF it meets the priorities of the City.

    When problem liquor stores & small time meth dealers don’t, do you think a (potential future) smut shop will?

    Like most citizens the Commissioners have not had experience doing this process and so they summarily dismissed the concerns over potential future businesses.

  16. V Smoothe Post author

    The City’s definition of Adult Entertainment Activity is as follows: “any commercial activity, whether conducted intermittently or full-time, which primarily involves the sale, display, exhibition, or viewing of books, magazines, films, photographs or other materials, distinguished or characterized by an emphasis on matter depicting, describing, or relating to human sex acts, or by emphasis on male or female genitals, buttocks, or female breasts.”

  17. V Smoothe Post author

    livegreen, perhaps if you could provide some specifics about these liquor stores you are so concerned about, we could understand your point a little better, and have a better sense of how you think that relates to this store.

    So far, the only example you’ve given us is the Nik Nak situation, and Nik Nak was not a question of anyone shutting down a problem liquor store. It was, by everyone’s account, a model business. There was never any problem, crime, or nuisance activity associated with it.

  18. Naomi Schiff

    As long as the landlord and store owners are willing to work with the neighborhood, I don’t see a problem. Think of it as the “uptown acceptable behaviors” neighborhood: lots of alcohol and marijuana and loud rock music seem to be okay. This might be a reasonable complement. Having worked at that corner for 16 years, 1981-1996, I’d say the wig stores and pawnshops weren’t all that great for the area’s image. There are many fewer of each, now. While I had my business there, it was also the main hub of the transvestite subculture. (Helping the shoe sales at Rocsil’s!) Historically(before most of us got here) that was the jewelry store district for a long time (which gave rise to the pawnshops I think), and there were quite a few drugstores. I have an intriguing 1950 chamber of commerce map that shows all the businesses.

  19. ralph

    V,
    Thanks for the information on the classification. I am going to ask that each of us write Ms. Kaplan about this issue. Curious about the meaning of “whether conducted intermittently or full-time.”

    Naomi,
    I take some exception to your depiction of uptown. But I could be interpreting a tone that was not there. So I give you the benefit of the doubt.

    As to pawnshops, in a number of east coast cities, pawn shops tend to appear in poorer neighborhoods where people struggled to make ends meet and needed to sell goods to make the nut. Also, good for thieves to unload hot properties. I think the location near the Uptown jewelry stores is coincidence. Because of the latter, they are rarely found in richer neighborhoods as rich people have no desire for that element.

  20. lovica

    Organized and determined neighbors can shut down nuisance businesses who are not in compliance. Sure, it takes some time and effort, but it does work. My neighborhood NCPC has succeeded in shutting down two liquor stores.

    I have to agree with Commissioner Huntsman that Youth Radio and the Uptown Business Assoc are exactly the kind of motivated neighbors that will document any compliance issues and ultimately be able to shut down any business that becomes a detriment to the community.

  21. Brian Toy

    I had no idea an adult video store was in Chinatown.

    I’m also confused by the opposition to Feelmore. They are all up in arms over this but forget that an adult oriented show,Hubba Hubba Revue, has been regularly performing at the Uptown with no adverse impacts to the neighborhood.

  22. ralph

    Brian, next door to Spices.

    Regarding adverse impacts, I think the kids selling drugs and adults legalizing MJ sales is probably worse than Feelmore.

    If anything, I think Feelmore might be able to present sex to young people in a way to be more responsible. The more I think about this issue the more upset I become. That being said the bldg is hideous. I wish something could be done to the exterior to make it more inviting.

  23. Naomi Schiff

    The exterior should probably be peeled off: there is an old building under there! The city has a facade improvement program that has been very helpful in the next block down, betw. 16th and 17th on Broadway and Telegraph. Ralph, I think we are more or less in agreement. I didn’t mean to characterize the neighborhood in any way negatively. Certainly it has improved enormously in the last few years. (I don’t even mind pawnshops, if they are operated properly.)

  24. Livegreen

    Ralph, They can’t better represent sex to youth because they’re not allowed to. And again my concerns r not this business but the permanence for others to follow.
    Lovica, How long did it take your NCPC to go from experiencing a problem to organization to eviction of the 2 liquor stores?

    V, First the distance ordiance is the law and were placed around schools for a reason. Yet the Commission did not address either the law itself or the long term enforcement (does anybody doubt that enforcement in Oakland is a problem?). They only addressed the business at hand to make a decision for a permanent exemption to the law.

    That is what is in common with Nic Nak. Yes they’re law abiding and yes the Commission disregarded the concerns of the neighborhood to approva a permanent variance. Why did the Council overide the Commission? Because of those very same concerns.

    The Planning Commission regularly approves permanent variances based not on either the reasons for ordinances or parallel concerns from citizens. Under their management variances have become the norm, and the law, city ordinances, & citizens concerns have become secondary. The Planning Commission is focussed on implementing long-term decisions with short term reasoning.

    You all keep addressing the long-term consequences with short term answers. I challenge you to address the enforcement problems Oakland has, especially as it has built up so many exceptions that it is impossible to manage.

    I am traveling and will post some specific examples later. For now I will say that if any of u doubt the enforcement problems Oakland has, you need only look at the areas OPD currently actively investigates. Smut is not one of them and, if OPD doesn’t, who will?

    If there is an adequate safegard from an agency that is well staffed and can meet all it’s demands then my concerns will b addressed and I will b satisfied.

  25. ralph

    Naomi,
    The facade improvement program was running through my mind as I wrote my previous post. I know people who operate businesses in the improved block and when you cross the street is like entering another world.

    LG,
    I recognize that Feelmore can not cater to youth. I just wanted to acknowledge that Feelmore is sex positive and educational unlike the places where kids seem to hear about sex.

    I would recommend you visit Good Vibes before judging FeelMore. This is not an adult bookstore (AB), of which I am not a fan. And despite my own preferences, I have always lived within the 2.5 miles of Adult Alley. People are buying condos that overlook the store on B-way. Near as I can tell the AB stores have not caused any trouble. The same can not be said for nearby bars.

    Honestly, I think the way to address you long term issues is to change the code and address how these stores are classified. The AB stores are a completely different business model than GV and FeelMore. if we can desegregate the troops, have female officers, end DADT, rid Oakland of the cabaret laws and crossdressing restrictions then certainly we can revisit the laws around what constitute an adult business.
    —-
    As to the 500ft argument, I believe one of the speakers made a good point, so 501 ft would be okay? Lincoln Elementary is about a qtr mi from an AB. The AB at 24th and Telegraph is just under a half mile from the school and opposite a popular pizza shop. Teenagers don’t walk. (Realistically speaking a $15 video from the AB Store is probably going to be of more interest to young people than a B-Bomb Vibrating Silicone Plug)
    —————
    Not buying you NicNak argument but I also have a different take on the events.

  26. lovica

    Livegreen – I don’t know the timeline for how long it took to get the liquor stores closed. I’m not going to pretend that it was quick or easy. My point is just that motivated neighbors can make a huge difference. And I don’t think community involvement is a short term solution to the enforcement problem. I think an active, involved community will always be more effective at keeping the neighborhood livable than an uninvolved community that just sits back and expects someone else to take care of it for them.

    I agree that it might be better to create a different class of “adult business” for stores like GV, but in the meantime it seems reasonable to grant a variance that specifically limits any future business from having any explicit materials in the windows, etc.

  27. matt

    I’d like to weigh in because I have a vested intetest in the success of Uptown… its people and commerce.

    I’m really excited for Uptown. A sex positive shop seems like a good component to an emerging entertainment district. Good food, great entertainment and exciting sex (at home) sounds like the good life to me. It’s why I’m here in Oakland and not in a puritanical suburb.

    I wanna Feelmore :-)

  28. Naomi Schiff

    I see your point, Matt, but are those puritanical suburbs really puritanical? Maybe in terms of publicly visible retail, but otherwise, I don’t think so.

  29. Max Allstadt

    Most places outside of major cities and Burning Man like to pretend that they aren’t freaky. But we know they’re freaky. Feelmore will provide visitors to uptown with a moment to taste freedom.

  30. ralph

    The puritanical burbs are myth. I don’t know if Feelmore rises to the level of freaky but at the very least, Oakland should capture some taxable spend currently going to San Francisco and Berkeley.

  31. ralph

    I take it you have never shopped Good Vibes, books (many of which are available at Borders), vibrators and condoms aren’t all that freaky. I suppose freaky is subjective.

  32. matt

    Ralph… I was speaking to the retail and political climate of the burbs, but it’s no myth. Now, I didn’t say the burbs can’t be kinky -I’m from the burbs :-P When I worked here in the 90′s the suburbanites needed the most calming down at the sight of an Ultimate Beaver. Just say’n.

  33. ralph

    Are there many cities with quality sex super stores? Sure you can find your cheap AB but stores which sell quality vibrators, harnesses, Feeldoes and the like are few and far between.