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The ordinance has a gradual enforcement mechanism. For the first violation you will only get a warning to fix the error within 10 days. The purpose of the ordinance is to get everyone to follow the industry best practices and comply with existing rules and regulations. The City wants this to be a successful program that makes our nighttime economy even better, creating a safer, more enjoyable environment for more repeat customers to all establishments.
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No. The ordinance does not close down bars at all. It only requires establishments that want to continue serving alcohol after midnight to get an after-hours permit from the City to operate from midnight until 2 a.m. The permit will cost less than $140 per year. If your establishment does not operate after midnight, the ordinance does not apply to you at all. The cost of the permit is to offset a portion of the cost of the nighttime manager for the program.
No. After the City held a workshop to hear from the business community, the draft ordinance was changed to remove all references to off-site activity.
No. The ordinance does require that as a condition of having the after-hours permit, staff not drink while working (shift drinking), but it does allow for tasting the ingredients of a cocktail as you prepare it, or tasting the beer, cider, wine, or spirits as you describe it to your customers for a tasting. This was another change that the City made in response to feedback from the industry at the workshop.
No. As the City Commission heard from the industry at its workshop and first reading, it is common industry practice to train your staff to recognize when to stop serving, how to check I.D.s for underage drinking, how to handle difficult customers, etc. State agencies already have similar training programs and the City’s requirements are even less rigorous. The City would accept the equivalent state agency or commercially available programs for training staff. The requirement for security during hours of operation are also already what the industry uses, as was stated by many speakers during the public hearings. The ordinance only requires the use of security staff or gives the option instead to use security cameras. The industry professionals who spoke at the meetings confirmed that they all already use either, or both, of these security measures, so the ordinance may not require anything more.
No. The ordinance regulates businesses who serve alcohol for consumption on site to the general public, not private charges to a hotel room by the person staying in the room.
The ordinance does not regulate state caterer permits for private receptions.
No. The ordinance allows for a one-day temporary use, up to four times per year, without the need to get the after-hours permit. This was another change that the City made based on feedback from the industry.
You will have to follow the emergency order rules. The after-hours permit does not allow you to avoid evacuation orders or emergency curfews necessary in the unfortunate event that the City suffers from another hurricane. Evacuation orders and curfews are only used to save the lives of the public and the first responders who have to go save them.
The ordinance will just standardize the same best practices for all that want to sell and serve alcohol late at night, leveling the playing field and treating all the same. The permit is not discretionary, if you meet these basic requirements, your business will be given the after-hours permit. The City is not picking and choosing which establishments can get the license.
Other than filling out the form and paying the annual fee, there are very few requirements of the permit that aren’t already things the industry should do.
The City is also actively looking at many of those recommendations, such as better lighting, longer hours for public restrooms, extra litter and clean up crews, more police presence with its new downtown unit, a homeless drop-in center, transportation hubs, and a nighttime enforcement officer who can better enforce existing ordinances.
The ordinance is scheduled to be heard for public hearing and possible adoption on September 25th at 5 p.m. at City Hall (75 King St.). If you have suggestions to improve the ordinance, please share them with the City Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or participate in the public hearing. The link for the current ordinance is here: ORD 2023-27.