When a Third District judge this week struck down Salt Lake City's ordinance controlling sexually oriented businesses, it was a setback, but it does not mean that the city is suddenly wide open for such sleaze.

The law had put tight controls on sites and activities for operations such as escort services, private dancers, models, "talk" shops and similar businesses that have some sexual atmosphere or orientation.Judge Leonard H. Russon said the ordinance was too vague and overly broad, and thus was unconstitutional. However, the chance to keep essentially the same law on the books appears reasonable.

In the first place, Judge Russon said that the city does have a right to regulate sexually-oriented businesses. His objections to the city ordinance were confined to certain specific points. The city attorney thinks that sharpening the language in a few instances will remove the vagueness so that law will pass muster.

The judge gave the city 10 days to make what changes officials could make in the document. In the meantime, the law stays in effect.

If the ordinance is revised and approved by the City Council, lawyers for the plaintiffs say they will file suit once more to challenge its constitutionality.

Salt Lake City would be better off without such businesses. In the past, they have turned out in several instances to be fronts for prostitution. City officials should continue their fight to keep very tight controls and restrictions on such enterprises.