TAMPA - The controversial conversation continues regarding added laws proposed for nightclubs in in Ybor City, specifically.
At Tampa City Council on Thursday, new information showing the draft ordinance now singles out Ybor City and isn't a blanket ordinance for all of Tampa.
Thursday's conversation lasted well over two hours with comment from the public, Ybor bar owners, council members, a city attorney, as well as a representative from the Tampa Police Department. By the time the conversation was over, it seemed all parties were further away from an agreement than they were when the meeting started.
"We don't need to punish good operators singled out in Ybor City for past bad behavior," said one bar owner to council members.
It's been a conversation two years in the making beginning with the fatal shooting at Club Empire in October of 2012. Tampa Police wanted to suspend the liquor license at the troubled club, but couldn't because it was state issued.
It was then city leaders decided an ordinance needed to be put in place to fix the problem rather than just putting a band aid on the situation.
Captain Ruben Delgato with the Tampa Police Department agrees something needs to be done to ensure the safety of bar patrons, as well as the owners. But what that something might be is still unclear.
The draft ordinance states bar owners must have off-duty police officers at their establishments. The number of officers would depend on the capacity of the bar. One off-duty cop cost $41/hour and for every four officers, there must be a supervisor on property, as well. That person getting paid $48/hour. With other safety measures proposed by the draft ordinance, the cost to the bar owners continues to grow.
What everyone seemed to agree on though is that there needs to be safety precautions in place. While Ybor nightlife is a very different scene than it was two years ago at the time of that fatal shooting, proactive measures are still at the forefront of everyone's minds.
According to Captain Delgato, there needs to be a more specific conversation between Tampa Police and City Council to quell the violence, underaged drinking and drug use and/or possession.
Tampa City Council says they will revisit the conversation at next week's workshop.