Tampa alcohol and nightclub regulation discussion will continue for at least two more months
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02/06/14 Ashley Whitney
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:
Tags: Tampa City Council, Hillsborough County, Hillsborough Avenue, Seminole Heights, City Council women Lisa Monteleone, night clubs, alcohol regulation

For months Tampa City Council has found itself in the middle of a conflict between citizens who are concerned about alcohol and violence at late-night bars and nightclub owners who don’t want more regulation. At a council meeting Thursday, nearly everyone involved said they want a resolution and more transparency.

Cindy Grant supports making changes to nightclub regulations. She is the director of the Hillsborough County Anti Drug Alliance. She said she has faith that community business owners are prepared to take the steps to hold themselves accountable.

“Nineteen cities already regulate through late night permits, through hours of sales, including St. Petersburg, as you’ve heard. Not as a hardship or a punishment, but as a way to regulate, and to hold establishments accountable. Most of our establishments here in Tampa are very responsible. There’s only very few that go outside the rules.”

The owner of the bar, The Dirty Shame, Richard Bloom, has worked with City Council for the last two years. He is in favor of regulatory changes, but he feels that the public and every business owner should be informed before any decisions are made.

“We feel that these recommendations are still valid and deserve attention and some action. We proposed changes to the liquor license ordinance. We understand evolve out of problems that are current in South Tampa and South Howard, and I feel that those problems deserve, that’s a separate issue, and deserve the same arduous process for consideration, and the same public input before there are decisions made to that affect.”

Resident Tracy Miller is not satisfied with how long it has taken the city to take action.

“Our county has the second highest DUI’s in our state. Which sounds like, “Wow, the police are doing a great job,” but then you look and see that we also have the second highest fatality’s in our state, so there’s a lot of DUI’s out there that we’re not getting. And we need to decrease the number of DUI’s and put other tools in our city, so that Tampa will not have this reputation that continues to grown that we are not safe and we don’t care about our community.”

City Council member, Lisa Monteleone is in favor of moving forward. When asked why these provisions, two years in the making, have not been implemented, and why City Council has not taken action, she answers,

“I said it last time, I said it at 7:50, we dropped the ball. You had been requesting us to do something, YCDC had been requesting us to address this. The vendors, the club owners, Richard Boom from the Dirty Shame has been asking to do something, and we didn’t do anything.”

Monteleone also points out that the initial crimes committed at large club venues should not affect every other law abiding business owner, large or small.

“We don’t need to have everyone in the entire city have a permit, because we have these isolated issues, in isolated neighborhoods, and putting the team in our ordinance.”

Tampa City Council voted six-to-one to ask city staff for information about recent alcohol violations to be presented at a meeting on April 17. The following week, April 24, council will also address large nightclub problems in a workshop.

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