Finding an effective tool to regulate nuisance nightclubs has eluded Tampa City Council members for years.
Because of state liquor laws, the owners of bars and clubs where fights, shootings, drug use and underage drinking occur are often beyond the reach of city officials.
But a recent proposal by Council member Yvonne Yolie Capin may offer a solution.
Under the new rules, the city would change its codes governing when alcohol can be served, pushing the time back from 3 a.m. to midnight. Establishments operating under the city’s alcohol codes and wanting to serve until 3 a.m. would have to apply for a city permit that could be suspended if unlawful activity occurs.
As the Tribune’s Kevin Wiatrowski reports, the process gives the city a hammer to hold over irresponsible owners who allow dangerous and criminal behavior in and around their clubs.
Details need to be worked out about the conduct that might trigger a suspension or revocation, and the codes need to be fair to responsible owners who provide safe environments.
But the proposed rules appear to offer the framework for a reasonable solution.
City council members are scheduled to further discuss the rules in December.
Nuisance clubs represent a small percentage of the establishments operating in Tampa. The vast majority are run by responsible owners who are effective at curtailing unlawful behavior.
But the consequences of allowing even one irresponsible owner to operate can be devastating when violence erupts.
They also have a detrimental effect on the neighborhoods and the city’s image.
Giving the city a better tool to punish irresponsible owners would be a step in the right direction.