Standing in a Vons parking lot in North Park last Thursday, ex-con turned Christian activist and self-proclaimed "ex-gay" James Hartline was upset to learn that he had been stood up by the San Diego Police Department's vice unit. Hartline had invited officers to join him, a posse of approximately 50 fellow churchgoers and a handful of television news crews on a walking tour of the neighborhood.
Hartline was hoping to show the police a number of nearby adult-themed businesses, which he claims violate city laws.
Despite the police no-show, Hartline and company walked anyway with Hartline pointing out businesses, including Ten's Showclub, a strip club on El Cajon Boulevard, and the Crypt, an adult video and novelty store on 30th Street, which he claims are in violation of a law prohibiting adult-entertainment businesses from being established within 1,000 feet of a residential property, church, school, park or public-service facility.
While some of the businesses are clearly within 1,000 feet of such properties, Lt. Lawrence McKinney, who heads the police department's vice unit and has met with Hartline on other occasions, told CityBeat Hartline doesn't have his facts straight.
"The concerns are legitimate, but the legal foundation that we have to work with just isn't there," he said, noting that all of the businesses are exempt from the relevant section of the municipal code because they were established before the law was passed.
Hartline contends that the businesses changed hands or received licenses after the law was passed and are subsequently in violation.
McKinney, who attributed the police no-show to scheduling conflicts and a last minute decision by Hartline to invite the media, said that's just not correct. "I personally went out, I took the police code-compliance supervisor and I took a city attorney who works in the police department as one of our legal advisors, and we went to all of the places that he had articulated, and we had a difference of opinion," he said.
"The police department," McKinney said, "and particularly the vice unit in this case, can't be used by one group to impose its morality on another group."