Zurich city parliament will decide in September whether or not to approve the loan to build the sex stalls on derelict land in an urban industrial area in Alstetten, to the west of the city.
All members of the committee voted in favour of the model except for the far-right Swiss People’s Party (SVP).
Committee member Christian Traber of the Christian Democratic People’s Party (CVP) said a majority supported the construction of the so-called "performance stalls" at the out-of-town location.
Speaking to the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper, Traber said pushing the red light district away from the "precarious conditions" that prevailed on Sihlquai, the current sex district, would represent an improvement for the city.
Arguing against the move, local SVP leader Mauro Tuena explained he does not think it is the responsibility of the state to operate sex booths:
“The annual upkeep costs of half a million Swiss francs ($579,837) are considerable,” he said.
Despite the expense of the project, Tuena stressed that “the SVP's 'no' does not mean ‘yes’ to the red light district in Sihlquai. It must go.”
The Zurich sex stalls will be the first of their kind in Switzerland if the project goes ahead. Ten garage-like booths will be erected in Alstetten, complete with parking spaces and alarm buttons. The model is based on German "performance stalls" set up in Cologne in 2001 where clients drive into the enclosures with their cars to conduct their business.
Local authorities say the development should be easier to monitor and better organised than the existing open-air red light district and will give women more protection against attacks.
With up to 100 prostitutes on Sihlquai at busy times, it remains to be seen whether ten sex booths will be enough to meet demand. The council says that more stalls will be built if the amount of activity warrants it.
The area will be operated and maintained by social services. Plans for the design and construction of the sex booths are already underway.
Zurich city council plans to open the new red light district in Spring 2012, while at the same time ending prostitution on Sihlquai in the city. However, it is possible that complaints could delay development.
22 complaints have already been submitted to the Zurich council by Alstetten residents worried about having the prostitution stalls on their doorstep. Opponents of the plan have until the end of November to present their arguments.