The Tampa City Council Thursday will discuss proposals that would close down bars and night clubs at midnight unless they had a permit allowing them to continue staying open until 3 a.m.
Council members in favor of the change feel it will give the city more control of problem hotspots; if businesses' customers continually violate laws and cause problems, the permits could be pulled.
The idea has created a divide in the bar industry.
"This is ridiculous," said Bonnie Plumtree, who is a co-owner of Crowbar in Ybor City, adding she is concerned it would force a lot of bars to shut down. "What it's going to look like is a ghost town, for one. And number two, we're going to lose revenue and a lot of bars are going to have to close."
Some believe there's more to the proposal than what some city leaders are letting on.
"For the city to step in and try to put a limit on what time [businesses close] I think is a little ridiculous," said James Coleman, who manages Reservoir Bar in Ybor. "I think it's more of a money-grab for the permits that we're going to have to apply for and pay for."
But those in favor of the change said this isn't about closing businesses, it's about bettering the community.
"I think people are definitely panicking and they're not reading through the ordinance," said Ellen Snelling, who chairs the Tampa Alcohol Coalition. "If we have a permit like this I think it's just an extra tool for the city to be able to bring bars and clubs under control, and have the neighbors happier."
"It works on the benefit of the people who are behaving and abiding by the law," agreed Bryan Donathan, the General Manager at Yard of Ale on South Howard Avenue. "I think there's a lot about that particular law that people don't understand and people are just thinking that they're going to shut bars down after midnight, which is not the case."
Should a law eventually pass, Tampa would become the 20th city in Florida requiring such a permit.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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