Tampa night clubs could face more red tape

10/17/13 Janelle Irwin
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Tags: bars, night clubs, regulation, Tampa City Council, permits, Yolie Capin, Frank Reddick, Lisa Montelione, Charlie Miranda


Tampa City Council members debate whether or not to create an ordinance making rules tougher for night clubs.

photo by Janelle Irwin

Tampa could soon tighten the reigns on businesses that serve alcohol after midnight. Council members voted 5-2 during a meeting Thursday to consider an ordinance being drafted by the city’s legal team.

The ordinance would change city code to close restaurants, bars and clubs at midnight, but allow those establishments to get a permit to stay open until 3, the current permitted closing time. It would also establish a list of rules for businesses to follow in order to keep that permit. The measure was brought up by council member Yolie Capin.

“We had a situation here last year of [an] extremely bad actor, extremely bad, and we were all ready to just throw the book at him and you know what? We couldn’t. We couldn’t.”

The ordinance, set to come before council on December 5, would not apply to certain businesses that already have a permit associated with what the city calls a site plan. For those establishments, proprietors won’t have to agree to whatever new rules the city approves. To compensate for that loophole, Capin suggested making the permits for extended hours good until 4:00 a.m. instead of 3.

“The reason for the 4:00 a.m. was maybe to incentivize the existing businesses that are on the site plan to move on to comply with the conditions that would be permitted after midnight. Otherwise there is no incentive for them.”

But the possibility of having bars open an extra hour didn’t bode well for other members of council.

“One day you’re going to see if we start messing with this and changing these rules, alcohol 24-hours a day.”

That’s council chair Charlie Miranda. He was joined in his sentiment by council members Mary Mulhern and Harry Cohen. But all three did vote in favor of drafting an ordinance that would allow permits for bars to stay open until 3. The two members to vote against the measure were Lisa Montelione and Frank Reddick. Montelione said she wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to an ordinance, but wanted more time to discuss details before writing one.

“I’m going to really be here to make sure that we are not making things so restrictive that it becomes onerous on not only on the property owners, but the restaurant and night club operators and the general public.”

Both she and Reddick are concerned added regulation would be a detractor for both businesses and young professionals looking for a place to settle down.

“We’re trying to put a lot of restrictions on people who are investing a lot of money to operate their facility and make a decent living for their family and we’re trying to act like we’re catering to the Pope. This is not the case. These are business owners. These are people who’ve got legitimate businesses and we can’t just put these people out of business.”

The possible list of rules tied to an extended hours permit could include underage drinking, code violations or being the site of a major crime.

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