City postpones discussion of downtown security requirements

ORLANDO, Fla. — City Mayor Buddy Dyer on Monday asked for a motion to postpone the second reading of an ordinance to improve nightlife safety in downtown Orlando, following a mass shooting that left seven injured at the end of July.


What do you want to know

  • Seven people were injured on June 31 when someone opened fire in downtown Orlando
  • Since then, city officials have looked for ways to make downtown a safer place
  • A second reading of an ordinance to bolster security in downtown Orlando was scheduled for Monday, but was postponed to a later date

The proposed ordinance aims to “better control late-night behavior in the city center that is peripheral to the robust bar and nightclub scene”, according to Monday’s council agenda.

If passed, the ordinance will address three different aspects of safety: surface parking lots, noise levels and businesses allowed to operate late into the night.

Under the ordinance’s rules, new businesses that stay open after midnight would be required to obtain a special permit for nighttime use. This requirement would also apply to businesses that undergo a change of ownership and those that make “substantial improvements” that exceed 51% of the value of the building, according to the City.

The ordinance would also create new policies to reduce noise levels from special events, sidewalk cafe speakers and other sound sources. In addition, surface parking lots open to the public after 10 p.m. should have enhanced security and meet certain lighting and landscaping requirements.

The security requirement for public car parks was good news for Jam-Eng manager Willie Smith. To be effective, however, that security would have to include actual searches of vehicles, he said.

“Have someone there, make sure they search the cars – like you’re actually looking for the cars,” he said. “Search inside, search the trunk, search under the seats. Because people will still try to protect themselves.

He pointed out that while the new street checkpoints offer some protection, these can only go so far if people still leave guns in their cars.

“What if an altercation occurs in the parking lot? Smith said. “Because people are going to go in their cars. They don’t need to shoot in the street.

Smith also said he strongly recommends late-night downtown businesses hire their own personal security forces. That’s what Jam-Eng had to do about six months ago, he said, after a customer threatened Smith with a gun one night.

“I almost got shot protecting one of my employees,” he said. “So I’m the reason they hired security here.”

This incident happened long before the July 31 shooting that prompted Dyer and his team to write the new security order.

Although Orlando City Council members were scheduled to hear a second reading of the ordinance on Monday, a city spokesperson said the timeline has been pushed back, following questions from some members of the life industry. nocturnal.

The second reading required for a vote is now set for Sept. 26, after city staff clarified two elements of the ordinance with updated language, per the mayor’s directive.

“It doesn’t change the purpose of the ordinance,” city spokeswoman Ashley Papagni wrote in an email to Spectrum News. “To ensure a thriving and vibrant city, the safety of Orlando and downtown residents and businesses is a top priority for the City of Orlando.”

When asked which companies, in particular, had questions about the order in its current form, Papagni was unable to immediately respond. She said the mayor had asked staff to amend section 65.544 of the ordinance, to clarify that:

  1. The requirement to obtain a special use permit applies where a permit to construct a substantial improvement occurs, rather than any permit

  2. The Planning Authority shall issue the Special Use Permit if the criteria under Review Considerations are met, but has the discretion, as limited by the Ordinance, to impose conditions on that Permit.

For his part, Smith called the city’s proposed new safety protocols “a give and take.”

“It has to be really strategic,” he said. “And the more strategic it becomes, the more it affects the businesses around us.”

Orlando Police Department officials did not respond to questions from Spectrum News on Monday about whether a suspect had been identified in the July 31 shooting.

About James K. Bonnette

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