Orlando Hospitality Alliance puts forward alternative proposals for looming downtown nightlife restrictions

The After Midnight Alcohol Sales Permit ordinance would also put a moratorium on new downtown clubs.

If city leaders have their way, big changes are coming to downtown Orlando's nightlife sector - Photo courtesy Ember/Facebook
Photo courtesy Ember/Facebook
If city leaders have their way, big changes are coming to downtown Orlando's nightlife sector

With a final decision coming during a March 20 City Council meeting, downtown Orlando is on the verge of seeing some big changes to (and restrictions on) the area's nightlife scene.

In late January, Orlando City Council voted unanimously in favor of restrictions to nightlife in downtown Orlando. The After Midnight Alcohol Sales Permit ordinance would impose a six-month moratorium on new nightclubs downtown and require current bars and nightclubs operating downtown to acquire a permit (as well as adhere to new security rules requirements) to serve alcohol after midnight.

However, this was a first reading. In the public comment section of the meeting, many nightlife workers and business owners, who felt blindsided by learning of these proposals just days before the January meeting, pushed back against these new measures. Mayor Buddy Dyer moved a final vote to March, in the interest of allowing more more time for "dialogue" between business owners and local leaders.

With March 20 coming up fast, the Orlando Hospitality Alliance — a local nightlife-advocacy group — has advanced several proposals of its own, including putting a 5% surcharge on downtown purchases as a way to defray the expense of more cops and security measures. This surcharge would bring in an estimated $3 million, almost $1 million more than the current downtown surge budget for increased OPD presence.

OHA also proposed making these new ordinances a pilot program that would expire after 12 months, so that the new rules' effectiveness (or not) in increasing safety downtown could be evaluated by an outside consultant. OHA representatives have reached out to city leaders for a face-to-face meeting, but as of this writing have not received a direct response.

Meanwhile, the City District (the Main Street District for downtown Orlando) launched an online survey at the beginning of February to gather community feedback on safety improvement solutions.

The 18-question survey, according to the City District, was developed to allow community members the opportunity to share their own ideas for improving security in downtown Orlando. City District leadership plans to make the results of the survey public after it closes on Feb. 28 (so you should take this survey!), and to present the numbers and data to Mayor Dyer and city commissioners well ahead of the March vote.

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