TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — After a deadly weekend shooting in Ybor City, Tampa City Council members wanted to take action to prevent more violent crime.
City Council member Gwen Henderson suggested closing all businesses in Ybor at 1 a.m. The suggestion met with a big push back from bar owners and employees who came to Thursday’s meeting to voice their opposition.
“If you take a bartender who is working a ten hour shift, and you take away two hours, you are effectively taking away 20 percent of his income away,” said Chad Perry who works in Ybor.
“We’re not trying to solve the problems of anything by doing things like this. All you are doing is hurting the livelihood of business owners as well as the bartenders and managers that work there,” said Rick Kowalczyk, the owner of Southern Nights in Ybor.
Tampa’s city attorney advised council members that closing all businesses in one area of the city at a certain time might not be legal.
“We don’t have a mechanism to tell businesses to shut down wholesale at a particular time,” said Andrea Zelman.
The city attorney did offer another possible solution.
“The one exception to that is that Florida statutes expressly allow for a juvenile curfew,” said Zelman.
A number of bar owners say underage people who loiter in the streets cause many of their problems.
“Two kids are dead right now, neither one of them were 21. The only thing people are doing in Ybor past say, past 11 is buying alcohol. If you are under the age of 21, you’re not adding to the economy,” said Perry.
“When the police take a minor off the streets like a 14 year old, they own him. So, they put him in a car, that officer is not available for the rest of the night,” said Eric Shiller, who operates Gaspar’s Grotto.
After hours of listing to the concerns of the public, council members decided not to take any action at the Thursday meeting, but did ask Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw to come back at a later date to present other options to curb violent crime in Ybor City.