David Hester, Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Hillsborough County (LPHC), and Brian C. Cole, Vice-Chairman of the LPHC, spoke out against the Tampa City Council's proposal requiring an earlier closing time for bars, clubs, and pubs operating within the city limits of Tampa.
These new regulations would require these establishments to close at midnight instead of 3 a.m., unless the bars applied and paid for an expensive club license allowing them to stay open extra hours. However, as Hester points out, the unequal applications of the proposed ordinance go beyond simply forcing these clubs from closing earlier.
LPHC Chair David Hester discusses other provisions of proposed ordinance
David Hester, Chairman of the LPHC, offered additional comments on the ordinance, which would result in sweeping changes across the city of Tampa should it go into effect:
My issue is that it is not just the closing times. They want to create a tiered permitting system where the politicians can give permits to some and kick out competition by using the force of government to ruin competition. They also allow alcohol to be sold at a number of other places which will only cause the problems to go to those locations.
The rowdy and sometimes violent people will just migrate to another bar with the extended hour permits, or someone's house. Shutting down one place never stops the activity, just moves it. They would pull the permits from business if someone sells drugs on their property or have a gun violation.
Would they pull the liquor license for a 7-eleven or Publix liquor store if someone uses a gun to rob the place or sell drugs in parking lot? Not a just application of the law at all.
Vice-Chairman Brian Cole highlights obvious problems with the pending provisions
LPHC Vice-Chairman Brian Cole highlights the obvious problems with the pending provisions of the proposed changes regulating the operation of night clubs within Tampa city limits:
This proposed ordinance has nothing to do with safety, but simply will serve as a way to strengthen the control of the local government, and support big businesses in the city looking to force their smaller competitors out of business.
The change in law allows for certain businesses to apply of a special permit to stay open later. While a handful of the larger establishments could afford this special license, most of the smaller bars and restaurants would be forced to close their doors. Also, it would have a significant negative impact on Tampa's Tourist Industry, who relies on bars, clubs, and pubs in locations such as Channelside, the SoHo District, and Ybor City to bring people to the city.
In addition to the aforementioned impacts, these changes would lead to an increase in DUIs and deadly alcohol-related crashes, as Tampa residents travel to St. Petersburg for the later hours offered by bars there. Unfortunately, most drivers will take the chance of driving back and forth along the Gandy Bridge instead of spending $100+ on a cab ride west and east across Tampa Bay.
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