Atlanta nightlife pushes back against "nuisance" policies
Atlanta nightlife proponents, including Michael Render, the rapper and businessman best known as Killer Mike, say the city walks a delicate line balancing public safety and one of its most undervalued and important industries.
Driving the news: Monday, Render joined Atlanta nightclub owners at City Hall to oppose legislation they say could snuff out nightclubs, strip clubs and other late-night businesses.
- The list of “nuisance properties” now numbers more than 70, up from the original tally of 25, deputy solicitor Erika Smith says.
Catch up quick: Atlanta Police and city officials say a disproportionate share of violence takes place at or near a relatively small number of nightlife businesses.
- Last weekend, downtown’s Encore Hookah Bar and Bistro permanently closed, citing a pending lawsuit by Atlanta city government and imminent eviction.
- Police told Fox 5 that security guard Ty Ross was shot and killed after kicking out a patron in February. Officers were called to the property more than 170 times over the past two years, the station reported.
Details: Sponsored by council member Dustin Hillis, the legislation directs the Atlanta municipal court to shut down a business — not just nightclubs — if the court deems them a "nuisance" two times within 24 months. Businesses could not be closed for more than 12 months.
- The proposal follows Mayor Andre Dickens’ creation of a nightlife division to educate nightclub owners how to run safe businesses.
Yes, but: Nightlife boosters told members of Council’s public safety commit they think the onus should not fall solely on the businesses.
Render called Atlanta nightlife a billion-dollar industry and rattled off examples of hotspots past and present making hip-hop history — Magic City and nightclubs on Bankhead Highway, for example — and launching the business empires of T.I., Ludacris and other acts.
- “I hope we are not cutting off our arm when all we need to clip is a pinky,” Render said.
What’s next: Darin Schierbaum, the city's assistant chief of police, says the department is researching whether officers can work off-duty jobs providing security at strip clubs. Council members plan a work session to discuss the legislation in the near future.
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