Tampa Council kills proposed law to close problem bars earlier

6:10 PM, Dec 5, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, FL -- Late night partiers will still be able to get alcohol well after midnight in Tampa.

The city council on Thursday killed a proposed ordinance that would have let them shut down some problem places at midnight.

So now the drinks will keep on flowing until 3 a.m... at least for now.

City council members narrowly killed a proposed ordinance, forcing clubs and restaurants to apply each year for a permit to stay open beyond midnight.

"And it can be revoked if the establishment is not following the rules," explained Councilwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin.

The proposed law was originally intended to give the city a legal avenue to effectively shut down businesses where drugs and crime were creating a problem.

But the nuisance nightclubs that inspired that effort have long since closed. That left reputable establishments wondering why they were the ones now being targeted.

"I don't feel this ordinance would solve the problem, but it will punish the rest of us," said Tom DeGeorge who owns Crowbar in Ybor City.

There were those who also spoke in favor of the ordinance, pointing out that only badly behaving business with ongoing problems really had anything to worry about.

"And here's the good news for all the people in this room. All the people that aren't following the laws are gonna be shut down - which means you - who have the permit to stay open 'til three - are gonna have more business," said Gina Firth, Assoc. Dean of Students at University of Tampa.

But by a narrow vote of 4-3, the city council voted to kill the proposal and start over, this time with more input from local businesses.

"We would never ever create burdens on you and try to destroy your businesses," said Councilman Harry Cohen, "That is not our goal. None of us wants to do that."

City leaders say they will now form a committee looking for a way to exert authority over places that create a problem but without making reputable establishments feel threatened.

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