In case you missed it, Charleston City Council voted Tuesday night to approve an ordinance that will affect bars that stay open after midnight. It's a toned-down version of an ordinance that was introduced May 14, but it will still require certain businesses to hire more private security officers and to help maintain law and order in parking lots and on sidewalks. The ordinance, dubbed the Late Night Entertainment Establishment Ordinance, takes effect July 1.
Surprisingly, the ordinance passed with little public opposition from bar owners — a marked contrast to the losing battles they previously fought against 2 a.m. closing time and the smoking ban. At Tuesday night's City Council meeting, two bar owners showed up to voice their opinions: Jim Curley (of AC's Bar & Grill) and Chris "Boston" DiMattia (of the Recovery Room Tavern). Curley said he supported the revised ordinance, while DiMattia raised a question of enforcement: How are bar personnel expected to keep patrons quiet once they're across the street in a parking lot? "We're not officers," DiMattia said. "We're not paid to be officers."
The ordinance passed with support from the Charlestown, French Quarter, and Vendue Range Condominium neighborhood associations. "We want to work with the businesses," said Susan Bass, president of the French Quarter Neighborhood Association, "but there needs to be something done at closing time."
Here's the final version of the ordinance. The City Paper is working on fuller coverage of this story, including the potential legal fallout and the history of bar regulation in Charleston, so be sure to pick up a copy of the print edition June 5.