Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg City Council approves additional permit for bars

ST. PETERSBURG — After months of debate, the City Council has enacted a law to help stem late-night issues at downtown bars.

The citywide law will require bars or restaurants that want to stay open and serve alcohol past midnight to apply for a $100 permit. A permit can be suspended for myriad reasons, including providing "inadequate" security on more than two occasions in a calendar year or having a violent incident.

The City Council voted 6-2 Thursday to approve the ordinance. Chairwoman Leslie Curran and Wengay Newton voted no.

The city will send mailers to bars and restaurants in the next few weeks and will give them until the end of January to apply without being cited.

The new law, Curran said, unfairly targets businesses that don't cause problems outside the downtown core. "We need to focus on the bad apples that refuse to do anything," she said.

Mayor Bill Foster disagreed.

The law, he said, will give police an extra tool to deal with the bars that refuse to cooperate with police about security.

"We need to make sure we have a safe and prosperous downtown," Foster said.

The Police Department is averaging 300 overtime hours a month just for downtown security at a cost of about $13,000 each month, officials said.

One bar owner opposed the proposal during Thursday's public hearing.

Matt Donahue, owner of Push Ultra Lounge on Third Street S, told the council that his 5-year-old club has raised thousands of dollars for charities and employs 25 people.

"This will put another burden on me to stay open," he said.

Police records show that officers have handled 125 incidents since January 2009 at the club, the second highest in the city.

The issue about maintaining a safe downtown nightlife — and figuring out who should pay for it — has dogged the city ever since leaders extended bar hours to 3 a.m. a few years ago. A series of incidents, including a shooting, prompted more discussion.

In May, bar owners, police and city officials started talking. They planned to revisit the issue in July with hopes of bringing something before the council. It was put on hold because of the Republican National Convention.

Businesses that cause problems will have to deal with the consequences if they break the law, said council member Steve Kornell. At his urging, the group amended the law to block individuals from simply switching corporate names to skirt requirements.

Mark Puente can be reached at mpuente@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8459. Follow him at Twitter at twitter.com/markpuente.

By the numbers

Police calls at St. Petersburg bars

St. Petersburg City Council adopted an ordinance to help clamp down on bars and restaurants where police are frequently called to halt trouble. The city spends about $13,000 a month on police overtime to handle problems at downtown bars. These 10 bars have generated the most calls to police since January 2009:

BarLocationCalls

Bottom to the Top1101 First Ave. N 171

Push Ultra Lounge128 Third St. S 125

Scene Premium Night Club211 Third St. S 116

Durty Nelly's149 First Ave. N 108

Bishop Bar260 First Ave. N 106

Jannus Live205 Second St. N 104

Vintage Ultra Lounge16 Second St. N 87

The Garden217 Central Ave.68

Ferg's Sports Bar1320 Central Ave.50

Mastry's Bar233 Central Ave.48

Source: St. Petersburg police records

St. Petersburg City Council approves additional permit for bars 12/08/12 [Last modified: Saturday, December 8, 2012 3:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. How did Florida National Guard miss soldier's neo-Nazi leanings?

    Military

    Brandon Russell, a private first class assigned to Company C of the 53rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion in Pinellas Park, has been in the Florida National Guard since February, 2016.

    Brandon Russell, 21, of Tampa, is a Florida National Guardsman accused in a federal complaint of illegal possession of explosives. [From YouTube]
  2. New stores coming to Tyrone Square Mall, like Bath & Body Works

    Retail

    Tyrone Square Mall will welcome a half dozen new stores, like Bath & Body Works and MidiCi's The Neapolitan Pizza Company, this summer.

  3. Wilson Ramos feeling good and confident, eyeing late June return to Rays

    Blogs

    Sitting on the bench in the Rays dugout in his full catcher's gear, Wilson Ramos talked excitedly Tuesday about the progress in his recovery from right knee surgery and the potential to be back in the major leagues by this time next month.

    "I feel like a player right now,'' Ramos said.

    Wilson Ramos is aiming to be back with the Rays by this time next month.
  4. Hernando teacher faces sexual battery charges

    Crime

    BROOKSVILLE — Deputies arrested a teacher on charges of sexual battery Tuesday, the Hernando County Sheriff's Office said.

  5. Drought forces tougher watering restrictions on Tampa Bay

    Water

    Homeowners in Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties will be limited to watering their lawns only once a week under new, tighter watering restrictions imposed Tuesday by the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

    A fallen pine tree burns and smolders in a section of pine flatwoods earlier this month in the Starkey Wilderness Preserve in Pasco County. Drought conditions have helped spark wildfires across the state. Now homeowners in Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties will face tighter watering restrictions imposed Tuesday by the Southwest Florida Water Management District. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]