ORLANDO, Fla. – At their next meeting Monday afternoon, Orlando City Council members will consider two ordinances aimed at addressing downtown safety concerns.
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An ordinance will impose a temporary ban on new nightclubs in downtown developments, giving city staff time to consider new ways to police clubs that already exist.
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The second regulation establishes hours of service related to the sale of alcohol and other public safety requirements.
At least one local pub owner said he feared the changes would cost him, even bankrupt him.
Scott Kotroba is part of Pine Street Concepts, the group that owns Bullitt’s Bar and other well-known venues in downtown.
He said the uncertainty surrounding the two proposals weighed heavily on his mind.
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“We sat and waited ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen,'” Cotroba said. “We have to prepare for the worst and plan for the best.”
Kotroba said he was frustrated by the lack of information about the suspension of new nightclub proposals.
“Usually when they pause, you’re trying to do research or find a target, and we don’t give any target or what they’re looking for or not looking for,” Kotroba said.
He said the proposed licensing requirement for downtown businesses to serve alcohol after midnight was also wrong.
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“It’s not after hours for us,” Kotroba said. “12 to 2 is normal working hours for us.”
In a letter to the mayor, city council, the Downtown Development Commission and the Orlando Police Department, Kotroba laid out all his concerns about the proposal, which would also require businesses with more than 50 people to hire off-duty workers to enhance security.
“It’s a forced additional cost,” Kotroba said. “The city told us that the police would be paying $90 an hour plus 10 percent overhead.”
The Downtown Development Council says the city pays about $40,000 each weekend for additional police presence. Kotroba said the extra enforcement could add up to six figures a year for them, but it’s not just the cost.
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“We’re not sure how they’re going to calculate occupancy,” Kotroba said. “We have multiple venues … we don’t know if they will combine admissions, so there are more unknowns.”
The permit also requires walk-through metal detectors and identity scanners and licensed security personnel at each entry point.
Kotroba said those measures were redundant.
“Our venue has security personnel in place, so we have taken all security measures,” Cotroba said. “Let’s sit down and find a solution, because there is no effective solution at the moment.”
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The City Council meeting starts at 2pm on Monday.
If approved, a final vote on the proposed permit requirements will take place in February. If approved again, it will take effect in May.
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