Crowd fills Tampa Council chambers for bar closing times proposa - WFLA News Channel 8

Crowd fills Tampa Council chambers for bar closing times proposal

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Bar and club owners packed into Tampa City Hall Thursday to ask council members not to vote for an ordinance that could cost them to stay open late. Bar and club owners packed into Tampa City Hall Thursday to ask council members not to vote for an ordinance that could cost them to stay open late.
Bar and club owners packed into Tampa City Hall Thursday to ask council members not to vote for an ordinance that could cost them to stay open late. Bar and club owners packed into Tampa City Hall Thursday to ask council members not to vote for an ordinance that could cost them to stay open late.
Citizens tell Tampa City Council members what they think of the proposal. Citizens tell Tampa City Council members what they think of the proposal.
Citizens tell Tampa City Council members what they think of the proposal. Citizens tell Tampa City Council members what they think of the proposal.
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

Tampa City Council chambers were filled to capacity Thursday morning as city leaders began discussing a controversial proposal to change bar closing times from 3 a.m. to midnight. At the meeting, Council Member Yvonne Capin moved to delay it to a workshop on Feb. 27 at 9 a.m.

So many people showed up for the meeting, a special overflow area was opened for the large crowd.

As of 9:45 a.m., more than 20 people were still lined up to speak before the council.  Council Member Yvonne Capin moved to discuss the ordinance at a Feb. 27 workshop, with public hearings to follow.  Council members have not yet voted on the matter.

Bar and club owners had planned to pack Tampa City Hall Thursday to ask council members not to vote for an ordinance that could cost them to stay open late.

The proposed ordinance would require some bars and clubs to apply for a business use permit if they want to stay open past midnight. Current rules allow them to stay open until 3 a.m.

Related story: Tampa considers closing bars at midnight

"We have a lot of regulation already in this world and we're creating regulation that's not even necessary," said Ybor City business owner Jason Fernandez.

Under the proposal, extended hours privileges could be revoked for bad behavior, including drug use, violent crimes, and serving alcohol to minors. Several bar owners told News Channel 8 they support weeding out problem spots, but worry how much the annual permit would cost.

Councilman Mike Suarez said the ordinance is intended to make the permitting process easier. It is not intended to make everyone close at midnight, he said.

"Because that original intent has been obscured by what people believe it doesn't make sense for us to try to pass this now," Suarez said Wednesday. "I would like us to start over again, go back, talk to all these business owners and make sure they understand what we were trying to do. And secondly, find out what they think would be a better process."

The Tampa Alcohol Coalition supports the proposed ordinance. Founder Ellen Snelling said it could reduce the high number of DUIs in Hillsborough County, as well as late night crime and underage drinking.

The meeting started at 9 a.m. Council members are scheduled to vote on a first reading of the ordinance.

Check back with WFLA.com for updates.

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