Orlando May Change Alcohol Ordinance For Downtown Bars
By Keith Landry, Reporter -
Friday night is party time in downtown Orlando, but police say young people and alcohol can be a volatile mix. City leaders are considering a change to the city's alcohol ordinance. It would move eighteen to twenty year olds out of downtown bars at 10 PM. City Commissioner Robert Stuart believes the change would reduce crime.
Stuart says, "We really have a different kind of downtown after 11 o'clock at night, and we want to make sure we keep that safe for everybody that's down there."
Stuart says the policy change would affect downtown bars but not entertainment venues like the Amway Center or places where people go to watch a play. Bar owners would have to buy a late night alcohol permit. It would allow them to serve alcohol from midnight to 3 am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and on some holidays. Stuart says that permit might cost 400 or 500 dollars.
None of the bar managers Fox 35 spoke with would go on camera, but off camera one bar manager says his colleagues have concerns about how the changes would be enforced. He says they want the process slowed down so there can be more discussion. Bar owners would be allowed six ordinance offenses but could face tough penalties after a seventh offense. Stuart says city leaders are working with Orlando police on enforcement details.
Stuart says police want the change. "They want it to create a safer environment. They want to quit having to bring in patrols from outside the area."
Fifteen Florida cities have already passed 21 and up limits on bars, including Gainesville, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Orlando City Commissioners are expected to take a first of two votes on the proposed alcohol ordinance this Monday. If it passes both votes, it will go into effect January 1st.