St. Pete councilman Jeff Danner: Bikini bars need to follow the rules
ST. PETERSBURG -- Neighbors have been complaining about the noise outside the downtown bikini bars for awhile, so City Council member Jeff Danner said Friday night's raid came as no surprise.St. Petersburg police raided Bottom to the Top, 1101 First Ave. N, late Friday night, arresting six dancers accused of exposing too much of their bodies. Three managers were arrested and face charges of violating the city's nudity ordinance.
The raid came after several months of noise complaints at Bottom to the Top, as well as increasing concern from city officials.The council heard from city attorneys last week about the difference between adult clubs and bikini bars.
Because city ordinances don't define what a bikini bar is, there are no special requirements for operating one. City lawyers were asked to look into what, if any, requirements the council could put in place.
"Our legal department said dancing is just a form of First Amendment public expression," City Council member Herb Polson said.
Danner said he has no problem with bikini bars that are well-managed and follow the rules, so long as they're not clumped together in one part of town.
The bikini bars downtown are all relatively new: Bottom to the Top opened in February, while Club Sinn opened in November. In April, the council approved a new bikini bar at the Mosley Motel on 34th Street N.
For now, the council will be watching the bars closely, he said.
"A lot of times they go away before you have to do anything," Danner said.
Sara Gregory, Times staff writer