Image from a video tour of the a previous CSPC location.

Sex center, City respond to neighbors’ questions about zoning, permits

After the Ballard News-Tribune published an article covering the concerns of business owners as the Center for Sex Positive Culture moves into a warehouse in the Ballard industrial zone, a conversation has started online.

Comments on the article webpage ranged from opposition, support and even criticism of the BNT.

The City and the CSPC have now joined the conversation after not seeing emails from the BNT last week. The City reported that the nature of the content directed the emails to a spam box.

Jeanette Hotes-Aprato, Managing Director of Center for Sex Positive Culture responded to some of the questions and issues raised in the report. She also said the BNT emails went to a spam box.

Where was the CSPC located before the Ballard location and how long was the organization there?

We were located in the Seattle Interbay area at 1608 15th Ave. W. for 17 wonderful years. We enjoyed cooperative and congenial relationships with our landlord and neighbors.

What drew CSPC to Ballard? Is there anything different about the Ballard community compared to the previous community you were in?

Proximity is the main reason Ballard was on our short list of locations for our new home. Our new location is a little over two miles from our previous location, and we endeavored to minimize the disruption to our members through this change. We are very excited about being a part of a community as vibrant as Ballard's.

Could you comment on some of the neighbors’ apprehension toward the move? Why do you think they feel the way they do reported in the previous article?

I understand that the unknown, especially with limited information, can seem very scary. It doesn't help that the media and movies automatically make anything centered around sexuality sound devious and out of control. We are available to meet with any of our new our neighbors to ally any fears or concerns and have reached out to them to address any concerns they may have.

What would you say to curious but apprehensive Ballardites about the center?

We are a community center that is welcoming to people of all sexual orientations. We host a variety of events in our space which include support groups for adult survivors of sexual abuse, adult safer sex and relationship skills education, and private events where members are allowed to be intimate with their partners. We have been endorsed by Dan Savage in the Stranger a number of times over the years. If anyone is curious, they are welcome to attend one of our new member orientations. You can learn more about our history, what we offer, and be under no obligation to join.

Is there anything the BNT missed in the last article that you’d like to explain or add about the center or its mission, place in society/culture?

We actually just updated our mission and vision at our board meeting this month. Our mission: "We are a safe place to explore and celebrate consensual sexual expression". Our Vision is "Sexual freedom for everyone".

I would also like to say that no construction has begun in our space. Our new landlord has been kind enough to do some repair and maintenance work after the previous tenants had left. I am very disappointed that your article implies that we are breaking laws or city ordinances. We have been preparing for our permit application and are taking deliveries in tools and materials to be ready to go for when we can commence construction.

Does CSPC consider itself an adult entertainment organization?

No, and the city of Seattle does not consider us an adult entertainment organization, either. The Center for Sex Positive Culture is a 501c(7) nonprofit community center. For those not familiar, 501c(7) nonprofits are membership-based organizations similar in structure to a tennis or country club.

How has the City addressed an organization like CSPC operating in a zone that prohibits adult entertainment businesses?

As I mentioned above we are not an adult entertainment organization. We are designated as a community center, which is explicitly allowed by the city for this building and zoning.

Bryan Stevens, Customer Service Manager for the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections, addressed the question of zoning and permitting.

“It appears a representative for this business operation has been making progress towards filing a permit application at 1515 N.W. Ballard Way to change the use from a warehouse to a ‘community club’ or ‘private club.’ Both uses are allowed in older buildings located within the industrial zone,” wrote Stevens.

The permits to change use can be approved as long as all of the building code items are addressed.

Furthermore, the building permits for the 1515 N.W. Ballard Way address encompass the concrete work done at 1415 N.W. 46thth St. property, which runs on a parallel block to the south and part of the same parcel.

“Our role isn’t to examine the merits of the business but instead to verify that various zoning and safety standards are addressed before granting approval.”

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