Saturday, March 13, 2004

Key Provisions of the New Proposed Post 1AM Nightlife Law:

1. - While establishments would no longer need a Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) license to permit dancing, it will remain illegal for patrons to dance everywhere it is currently illegal. This is because the zoning, building and fire safety laws that also govern where dancing can take place are not being changed. The dance police will remain!

2. - Over 1000 bars and lounges and late night restaurants that do not currently need a cabaret license will need the new post -1:00 AM nightlife license. This will be an additional license to your liquor license and Health Department license, along with new fees, regulations, hearings, and fines with which you will have to contend.

3. - While the cabaret license made establishments responsible only for what occurred inside their establishments, this new late night license will make you responsible for what goes on outside on the street, as a condition to keeping your license. 3 tickets of certain types in 2 years can result in your place being padlocked for up to 10 days, and 6 tickets of these types in 2 years and your license will be revoked. This includes some sanitation tickets, some noise tickets, and loud or unruly people on the sidewalk.

4. - The standards of responsibility for what occurs inside your establishment is dramatically changed. Previously, the standard was "did you make a good faith effort" to control patrons, prevent bad behavior, etc. This proposal states that if two individuals (that means patrons, owners or workers) in a two (2) year period, are indicted or charged (not convicted) for fighting, or for mere possession of a knife or other items that can be considered a weapon, over capacity, sale to minor and other types of incidents in any combination of two, your license is revoked - - permanently.

5. - To obtain this new post 1:00 AM nightlife license, you will have to hire a certified sound engineer, even if you have never had a noise violation, who will test your space for compliance with the City's noise code. If you do not comply - - or make the sometimes expensive changes needed in old buildings to comply - - you cannot get the license and would have to close at 1:00 AM.

6. - DCA will now be the noise police, authorized to issue violations under the noise code, or violations that your interior volume is too high, even if there is no noise code violation or proof that your establishment is causing noise problems for yoru neightbors.

7. - These same violations issued to businesses that do not need the late-night license will carry only fines, but for Nightlife licensees the penalty is revocation of your license, forcing you to close at 1:00 AM or go out of business.

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