City Council should carefully weigh ‘last call’ decision

While the proposal to pull back Tampa bars, nightclubs and watering holes’ last call times from 3 a.m. to midnight comes much to the obvious chagrin of many college students, the City Council should carefully consider the economic impact this decision may have on the local area. 

The intention behind this proposal, which will come before the Council on Thursday, is certainly a good one. According to an article in the Tampa Bay Times, the proposal has been in the works since 2011 when two late-night Ybor City shootings left city officials wondering what to do.

Though there may be some truth to the old adage that no good decision can be made after a certain time of night, simply closing establishments that serve alcohol earlier may not solve the problem, and may only economically cripple Ybor, a historic part of the city that is now able to preserve some of its cultural vibrancy solely through its nightlife.

According to the Tampa Bay Times article, restaurants and bars will be allowed to apply for permits to maintain a “wet-zone” that permits them to serve alcohol until 3 a.m., and the permits can be revoked for troublesome establishments. Yet the permits would transfer with sale of the property, meaning that these same troublesome establishments could simply move locale and cause the same problem in a different place. 

Before the city makes any rash decisions, it should consider analyzing the economic impact that patrons of the “non-troublesome” establishments make to the area between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m. The city should also take a more wholesome approach in looking at the factors that lead to some of the violent crimes that take place. 

While alcohol is never a mitigating factor in conflict, the problems are more deeply entrenched than simply a bunch of belligerent drunks. 

The culture of violent crime is one that cannot simply be topically erased by rolling back closing times. It is one that will take far more thinking from the City Council as well as other agents of social change.