Downtown Orlando business operator suggests proposed safety actions are redundant, high-priced – WFTV

ORLANDO, Fla. — At their up coming meeting Monday afternoon, Orlando Metropolis Council customers will look at two ordinances meant to deal with basic safety concerns downtown.

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One ordinance would impose a temporary moratorium on new nightclubs within the downtown development area to allow city staff time to consider new ways to regulate the clubs already there.

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The second ordinance sets rules for hours of service with regard to alcohol sales and other public safety requirements.

At least one local bar owner says he’s worried the changes will cost him, or even put him out of business.

Scott Kotroba is part of Pine Street Concepts, the group that owns Bullitt Bar and other big name establishments downtown.

He says uncertainty about the two proposals weighs heavy on his mind.

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“We’re sitting back going ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen,’” Kotroba said. “We have to prepare ourselves for the worst and plan for the best.”

Kotroba says he’s been frustrated by a lack of information on the proposed moratorium on new nightclubs.

“Usually when they have a moratorium, you’re trying to do research or find a goal, and we weren’t given any kind of goals of what they’re looking for or not looking for,” Kotroba said.

He says the proposed permit requirement for downtown businesses to serve alcohol after midnight is also misguided.

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“It’s not after hours to us,” Kotroba said. “12 to 2 is normal working hours for us.”

In a letter addressed to the Mayor, City Council, Downtown Development Board and Orlando Police, Kotroba laid out all of his concerns with the proposal, which would also require businesses that hold more than 50 people to hire off-duty officers for added security.

“It’s the additional cost being forced,” Kotroba said. “We’re being told by the city 90 dollars an hour for officers plus a 10 percent administration fee.”

The Downtown Development Board said the city has been paying about $40,000 each weekend for extra police presence. Kotroba says the extra law enforcement could add up to six figures a year for them, but it’s about more than the cost.

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“We’re not sure how they’re going to calculate occupancies,” Kotroba said. “We have multiple venues…we don’t know if they’re going to combine the occupancies, so again, there’s more unknowns.”

The permit would also require walk-through metal detectors and identification scanners and licensed security personnel at each entry point.

Kotroba says those measures are redundant.

“We already have security people in place in our venues, so we’re already doing all the security measures,” Kotroba said. “Let’s sit down at the table and figure out a solution because what’s currently out there is not a solution that works.”

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The City Council meeting starts at 2 p.m. Monday afternoon.

If approved, a final vote on the proposed permit requirements would happen in February. If approved again, it would then go into effect in May.

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