Annise Parker is a democrat which means I typically don't agree with her on much. However with dealing with Houston's Human Trafficking problems, and Stripclub regulation, she made the right decision. Many of the Bible Beaters are outraged by her decision. Their goals would be to remove all Sin from Houston. I see it in another light.
The Stripclubs in Houston operated relatively freely until 1997 when the city decided they wanted to shut them down. Of course they couldn't just shut them down, but they could make life more difficult for them. The new rules effectively forced Houston's stripclubs to operate as Bikini Bars. Bikini Tops had to be worn, or Liquid Latex applied to the breasts. a 3 foot rule was instated which was supposed to make it illegal for a dancer to come within 3 feet of a customer. Full bottoms were required ( no more G Strings ). The clubs did the best they could to enforce these rules. While at the same time trying to fight the city in the courtroom.
You have to take a look at Houston from a broader view to understand what is wrong with this town. We have 5+ million people living in the Houston Metro Area. Then we have UH, Rice, and the smaller universities like St Thomas to educate them. Basically we have the same Educational Capacity of my Home down of Omaha Nebraska which only had maybe 750K population. Basically we have an non degree holding population base. That hasn't stopped many from succeeding. I know plenty of busines owners doing quite well and they have no degrees. But there is also a huge population base of ladies more than willing to work in Houston's Stripclubs. There is nothing wrong with girls who want to work in a stripclub. It doesn't mean they are bad people, or doing anything illegal. The problem is when you have too many clubs, and too many girl working in that environment.
In the 1990's Stripclubs were booming. It was truely an easy money time for the girls working the scene. There wasn't 70+ Stripclubs like there is today. It was only a few large clubs. Those clubs stayed packed. As a result they could be picky about who they let dance, and what customers they let in. Customers actually tipped girls to dance. It wasn't unheard of for a girl to make over $2000 / night, via dancing on stage and lap dances. Girls back then didn't have to lower their moral standards.
This we all know started a decline in the US economy. People held onto their money, rather than spend it for entertainment.
Many did not realize that the Executives of the Big Energy Companies were very good customers to the larger Stripclubs in Houston. I have heard stories of 20K+ bar tabs. Even Waitresses were making $200K+ per year. These executives were enjoying their company expense accounts to the fullest. When Enron went bankrupted, this shock the scene in Houston. Later when it became national news about how company expense accounts were used for playing at the stripclubs, this caused most of the other Big Energy Companies to make a quick change of policy. The Club's biggest client's were gone.
This storm caused many of New Orleans Residents to become displaced. Many permanently relocated to Houston as it was the closest Major City with Jobs. Basically the city was flooded with a population of desperate people. The clubs were flooded with girls, some of which were willing to bend the rules to make a buck.
As time went on the economy got worse and less customers were spending lavishly at the stripclubs. However more clubs were being built, and there was still a large population of girls who worked there. As money got tighter in the clubs it started to become harder for girls to make an honest buck. Why would a guy tip you on stage when another girl is trying to solicite illegal services. The result was the honest girls started to leave the industry.
When a guy goes out to a stripclub he wants a quality experience. He wants to see beautiful women, enjoy a steak, watch the game, have a few drinks, and socialize with his friends. But when there are too many clubs in town, and the girls are hoping from one club to another, this takes away from a dependable quality experience for the customers. One night could be awesome, the next night you find the place empty of classy good looking gals.
If you went to restraunt and the experience was a let down you are not likely to visit again. The same goes for stripclubs.
Back to the agreement reached by the Mayor and the Houston Stripclubs. The agreement was that the 16 major clubs ( that were established before 1997 ) would each contribute to a $1 million dollar pool that would fund a division of HPD assigned to cracking down on human trafficking. This is not a one time thing, its an annual thing. In exchange they are allowed to go topless again ( no latex ) and back to G Strings. Plus no more 3 foot rule. The clubs will also work tightly with the HPD in fighting the illegal activities. This is only extended to the 16 Major Clubs. All other clubs still have to abid by the 1997 law. Which of course will put the smaller clubs at a huge disadvantage.
The result is Both girls and customers will return to the larger clubs, and most of the smaller clubs will be squeezed out of the business. With more customers going to the larger clubs, this means more money for the girls. More money will attract the better looking professional Dancers. If they can make a decent living at one club, they will stop hoping around which will improve the quality of the experience for the customers. If you have plenty of girls working the stages, as a manager you now can be pickier about which girls you let in, which once again helps to raise the quality of the experience.
Houston has always been an oil town. Which means it has attracted businesses and services that cater to those who work in the Oil and Energy Sectors. This is a male dominated industry. Which means you are not going to entertain it with a bunch of hair salons and day spas. Houston hosts many large annual conferences that are tied to this industry. If you remove the stripclubs and turn Houston into something that resembles Salt Lake City ( No Stripclubs, No Drinking ), you will effectively remove one of the many reasons these conferences are hosted in Houston. The next year they might choose to relocated to a different city like Vegas. These conferences bring millions of dollars of revenue to the local business in Houston, plus they generate tax revenue for the City.
Finally Note on why this is good
Stripclubs are meant to be a good time for guys. However with so many clubs in operation, its hard for a club to attract top talent. I am talking about the beautiful girls who look like they are right off the cover of playboy. Instead when you goto a stripclub, the quality of the girls and your experience is a gamble. We have all been there. You and some buddies are at the stripclub having a good time, then some tatooed bony butt, no chest ghetto stripper decides for some reason she is going to sit with your group. She has more confidence than she deserves ( likely from the shots she drank at the previous table ) , spends the next hour whinning about her problems, her kids, and baby's daddy, and maintains a rather predatorial demenor over your table ensuring no other strippers try to approach your group. You try to give her suttle hints that we are not interested, but she still doesn't get the drift. Finally when you directly ask her to leave ( nicely though ) she throws a tantrum, and pulls the whole hand on hip, finger pointing, loud mouth routine, as if yelling at us is some how going to get us to buy a dance. Its experiences like this that will stain a customers mind for months, or even years. Next time the group says lets go to the stripclub, immediate discussion of the last experience comes up which quickly changes the group's mind.
If Houston could shut down 90% of the stripclubs in this town ( remember there are 300 of them ), the remaining clubs could actually start raising their standards for who they will allow to work there. Unfortunately most clubs are so desperate for girls, they will let just about anyone who can pay the door fees to get on stage. This is the biggest reason Annise Parker's decision was the right one. As it has the potential to bring quality back to an industry that needs it.