My topic this week is the patio dining ordinance update.
The city met with the public to hear suggestions and ideas about updating the city ordinance pertaining to patio dining within the whole city and not just downtown’s entertainment district. Discussions were mostly about the hours, sidewalk space, and security.
I took an interest in the security part when it was asked if the city could provide a couple of police officers to patrol downtown during the rowdy hours. The request was backed down a little when the tight budget was mentioned. The group thought they could do some fundraising to hire off-duty police officers. I hope downtown follows through with providing their own security and not try to pass the expenditure onto the taxpayer.
Our police officers should never have to be in the position of having to babysit or play bouncers to downtown establishments. There are other establishments that are not in the downtown area that hire their own security, so why would downtown think the taxpayer should pick up the expense?
Introducing more security doesn’t address the root cause of the problem, which seems to come from serving way to much alcohol to patrons to the point where they get loud, obnoxious, and start fights. When do the establishments start to take on the responsibility of telling patrons they have had too much to drink and just stop serving them before they get to the point of inappropriate behavior? There are rules and regulations for serving an already intoxicated person so things do not get out of control. Just because the establishments are within the entertainment district doesn’t automatically mean that it is normal for things to get out of control and that the residents should expect that kind of behavior when moving into the downtown area.
If the police are called on a regular basis to break up fights from too much drinking, there should be a hefty surcharge to the establishments for repeated disturbances and a possibility of revoking their liquor licenses when it comes up for renewal. Once the establishments are surcharged for nuisance calls, there will be fewer calls to the downtown area.
Until next week, an out-of-control entertainment district is not something anyone would like to see ruin downtown since it has come so far in the beautification process.