Why is there a sex shop in my neighborhood?

(Romantix, an adult bookstore, is the purple marker. The red markers are nearby schools) 

Why is there a sex shop in my neighborhood?

I don’t about your neighborhood. But in my neighborhood we have enough problems to deal without having an adult bookstore just a few blocks from 4 schools and within a mile of 8 schools.

That’s the case with Romantix, an adult bookstore located right smack dab in the middle of City Heights on the corner of 48th & El Cajon.

I’m not talking about Romantix being buried in a shady shopping center. It’s on El Cajon Boulevard, where hundreds of students have to walk each day to and from school. And tens of thousands of cars stream… often stopped in front of the shop because of traffic lights. For example, it’s caddy corner to a Jack in the Box and across the street from a corner market. There’s a bus stop on this block, etc. This store is public and visible in every way.

Worse yet, the store advertises like this:

I’m asking you to join me in changing how Romantix advertises their business.

  • Help draw attention to their sexually suggestive advertising in a residential neighborhood.
  • Contact local media. A little bit of media attention could go a long way.
  • Call the shop to ask them to take it down. (619) 582-1997
  • Contact San Diego City Council to ask them to enforce appropriate ordinances.
  • Use these edited images to draw attention to this injustice.

Would you want this in your neighborhood? Would this be allowed where you live? I doubt it. The simple reality is that this form of overt sexually suggestive advertising wouldn’t be allowed in any neighborhood ones like City Heights. I guarantee you that this wouldn’t fly in La Jolla, Point Loma, etc. 

Why is an adult bookstore in a residential neighborhood?

According to San Diego Municipal code 141.0601 an adult entertainment business cannot operate within 1,000 feet of a residential area, a school, or a church. Um, it’s within 100 feet of a residential area! 

Quoting the ordinance… section 3.

(3) The public health, safety, and welfare shall be preserved and protected by applying the provisions of this section in the following descending order of importance:

(A) Proximity to other adult entertainment businesses;
(B) Proximity to schools;
(C) Proximity to churches;
(D) Proximity to public parks;
(E) Proximity to residential zones; and
(F) Proximity to social service institutions.

So is it against the ordinance for Romanix to even be there? I actually don’t know the answer to that question. This neighborhood has been there for many years. But the ordinance says that it can be exempt if they don’t changed owners or expand/improve their property. I find it hard to believe that Romantix has been there, not changed owners, and not made any improvements in 20, 30, or even 40 years!

We all know why this is happening. It’s because the people who live in my community are often the working poor, powerless, and voiceless. It’s there because the people who live there don’t know that it’s not supposed to be there. And even if they don’t like it, they don’t know that there is anything they could do about it.

In truth, I doubt we could get them to close their doors. But I am fairly confident we could get them to cease using sexually suggestive advertising on the exterior of their building.

So while I wish Romantix weren’t allowed to do business in that location at all, I recognize that they likely do have every right to be in business at this location. To be clear, I’m not saying they should close– just advertise in such a way which is responsible and respectful of their location.

Together we can demand that the owner’s advertise in ways which are less degrading to women and less sexually suggestive.

My Note to the Owners/Operators of Romantix

Romantix, your business may be on a main artery in City Heights. But it is also in a neighborhood where hundreds of children pass by daily. Likewise, tens of thousands of motorists stream by and are even stopped in front of your shop while waiting for the traffic light to change.

As a concerned member of the community I am asking you to refrain from sexually suggestive, lewd, and degrading advertising on the outside of your business. Your clientele knows exactly what you are, where you are, and why they shop there. There’s simply no reason to advertise in this way when your establishment is in an area where thousands of people are forced to go by your shop. There is a difference between “within the law” and “what is right.” I am asking you to do what is right and best for the community.







16 responses to “Why is there a sex shop in my neighborhood?”

  1. Andrew Judge Avatar

    How long has it been around? We have a similar situation in Huntsville. But because its existence predates an ordinance about distance of these things from schools, there’s nothing to do about it. http://blog.al.com/breaking/2012/10/strip_club_across_from_univers.html

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      That’s a great question. We’re trying to determine that. We do know that the window decals are relatively new. So while you couldn’t call that an improvement, I would think they fall under sign ordinance regulations as a new sign.

  2. The Church State Guy Avatar

    Not to mention that San Diego/City Heights is a hub for sex trafficking… and this just reinforces that. The image above is heart breaking. There is a major problem with the residential/business ordinances in our neighborhood, and this is just the grossest example. Thanks SOOOO much for highlighting this, I’ll do what I can to raise awareness.

  3. Tim Ghali Avatar

    Well said my friend – especially the appeal to the owners/operators re. within the law/what is right.

    Create awareness, avoid tactics of bullying/manipulation, seek solutions for the greater good – looks like you’re on the right track here.

    I do think getting an answer to the ordinance question will be really important – especially if this gets local exposure. Things can go from “exceptions” to negligence/wrong-doing/scandal fairly quickly in local politics.

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      I do think that the new advertising it “new” and therefore subject to sign ordinances for adult entertainment businesses. But I’m no expert and maybe they have a variance or something like that?

      I think my appeal is more directly to the business owner. Just do the right thing.

      But I think getting some local media engaged will help turn up the heat.

      1. Tim Ghali Avatar

        That seems to be a really weak technicality. I do appreciate your heart and appealing to the business owner first – that’s the right start. How are you actually contacting them? Are they readers here? 😉

        I guess it depends on how far you actually want to go with this. As you point out there is an existing ordinance – they shouldn’t be there. Maybe they’ve been there the last 50 years but what’s more likely is that with the trend of adult stores, they’re leasing storefronts that have sat around for a long time and the landlord either got an exception, pulled some strings or who knows, may not have even bother seeking the exception.

        I know you have a million things going on – just thinking out loud with you.

        1. Adam McLane Avatar

          Thanks Tim. I’m jumping in on an appeal from a friend, Marnie, who is a principal in the area. I know she’s contacted the store manager, the landlord, her city council rep, and a few other people like that. (And asked her FB friends to do the same, some of whom have.)

          So my blog post is really trying to rally up some additional voices in our area plus being an access point for the issue among neighbors.

  4. Melanie Crutchfield Avatar

    I’d love to help, Adam. Puttin’ it on my to-do list.

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      thanks @MelanieCrutchfield:disqus!

  5. Marnie Avatar

    Thanks for highlighting this Adam! I called and the manager says they have a permit from the City for the signs, which I find highly suspect, in part because the same store’s branch in Point Loma has ZERO signs on the front of the building (and they are NOT in a residential neighborhood). I think either they are lying or someone gave them a permit that they would not give to anyone in any other neighborhood.

    The store says they can’t do anything but that people need to call corporate:
    Romantix, Inc. – Corporate Office (in Denver, CO)
    Phone: 1-800-345-9202

    And Code Compliance for the City is:
    (619) 236-5500

    I will add the landlord’s contact info when I find it.

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      Great work, Marnie. I’d like to see a copy of that permit and/or variance. Specifically, I’d like to know who signed it so we can get after them. Surely, they wouldn’t want that stuff on their block.

  6. Aaron Helman Avatar


    I’m not sure if you’ll remember the “Pleasureland Museum” in Mishawaka. I remember it because as a marching band kid, it was right at the grandstand during the Memorial Day parade (tacky, tacky).

    The place never had any of the kinds of outdoor advertising that you see, but it was eventually *evicted* from downtown Mishawaka after years of legal redtape and appeals.

    It became a big deal to the city because that part of town was a specific area they wanted to develop. I wonder if you might gain a coalition of other small businesses in the area?

  7. Shawn Michael Shoup Avatar

    Wow! Way to be, Adam. Best of luck.

  8. Alon Banks Avatar

    Spread the word on twitter to our local news teams.

  9. Adam McLane Avatar

    Quick update on this.

    1. The signage was in violation of zoning. They were not allowed to use window displays of more that 30% of their windows, correcting that.
    2. After working with some folks in Talmage, they have agreed to only use text signage!

    Double win. Pumped about that.

  10. Pierre Ordinaire Avatar

    Hey Adam, is somebody grabbing you by the neck and forcing you inside? How about live and let live? Your sex life probably sucks, let other people enjoy theirs.

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