It was truly touching to see all those little ladies from Cherry Hill, priests from Curtis Bay and a number of other well-meaning residents from East Baltimore to Hamilton before the Planning Commission last week, defending The Block. Such fervor! Such sincerity! One resident even proclaimed that "we are like Christian soldiers and we're going to march on to war" to keep this zone of sin on East Baltimore Street.
The smut peddlers on The Block are not stupid. No sooner had a City Council bill been introduced to outlaw adult entertainment businesses, peep shows and porno shops from the central business district by July 1995 than telephones began ringing in various neighborhoods. The message was always the same: If The Block is outlawed, a red-light district will move to your neighborhood, bringing in prostitution, crime and drugs.
These threats are a red herring. In fact, while permitting certain relocations, the bill would not allow any new concentration of adult entertainment uses. Strip-tease bars or porno shops could not be located within 1,000 feet of another one, nor could one be closer than that to any "residence district, church, hospital, school, library, park, playground or day nursery."