End to winding 'sex alleys'

Translation of an article from the Alkmaars Niewusblad, 20 October 2010

Alkmaar wants to reduce the number of windows on the Achterdam with a new city zoning plan.

Alkmaar – Less tiny prostitution rooms on the Achterdam. If the core of the Alkmaar city council has it’s way, there will be a new city use plan allowing window prostitution only in rooms that are directly on the Achterdam. This will reduce the number of tiny prostitution rooms from about 140 to 60 or 70. The plans will be presented soon to the entire city council.

 In recent years, owners of sex properties have created a lot of new small prostitution rooms on private property behind the Achterdam. The rooms can be reached through winding alleyways.  Lawmaker Nico Alsemgeest says, ‘We want to rezone the facilities to a mixed use status so that the rooms can be lived and worked in.’ As a result there will be space for small businesses, a gallery or a sporting facility. The new use plan could cut the number of rooms in half. ‘As a result we will be able to control the Achterdam better. It needs to become a normal street again.’

Two years
The city council put formal boundaries on the prostitution zone in 2000. In that document the assumption was made that the number of windows would be reduced. The “Umbrella Zoning Plan for Prostitution’ from 2001 only permits window prostitution on the Achterdam and the corner properties. Nothing is said about the size of windows. The city intends to regulate that via the new zoning plan, says Alsemgeest. “Until the time that no new permits need to be extended, we are asking the council to make a ‘preparation decision’. The plans can be put into effect, at the earliest, in two years.”

 Court of Appeals
The Actherdam continues to be in the forefront of public concern. The city and the Achterdam business Nool are currently entwined in a legal battle about the usage permit. Mayor Piet Bruinooge refused to extend the permit upon the advice of the Bibob Bureau (A govrnment advice bureau helping local governments reduce the risk of crime related businesses n.b.) . This led to a court case last year which the city lost. The city appealed the decision. That appeal will be laid before the Court of Appeals on December 6.

Safety Risk Zone
Window prostitution on the Achterdam is suspected to have started around the beginning of the 1970’s. Through the years the Achterdam has received more and more negative publicity. In order to retrain the increase in violence, the city set up cameras and temporarily declared the area to be a ‘Safety risk zone’ It is estimated that between 70 and 90 percent of the women who work on the Achterdam do not do it voluntarily. The idea of ‘moving’ the Achterdam has not been an option since 2007. At that time the city council made a ruling that window prostitution would be limited to the Achterdam.