The Greensboro City Council passed a resolution in support of establishing a Safety Review Board at the Tuesday, Dec. 21 meeting.
The vote to support the Safety Review Board was 8-1, with Councilmember Justin Outling casting the lone no vote.
The idea of a security ordinance to punish restaurants and bars that have a violent incident in or near their premises has a long history. In 2014, the City Council passed a nightclub ordinance that required enhanced security. However, because of the opposition to that ordinance, the City Council then voted to impose a moratorium on enforcement of the ordinance and never lifted the moratorium.
In this round, Mayor Nancy Vaughan proposed an ordinance establishing a nightclub security ordinance in January and the ordinance was revived as establishing a Safety Review Board in April after a stabbing at a downtown restaurant.
The major difference in the Safety Review Board that the City Council voted to support on Tuesday is that it is not an ordinance. The makeup of the board, with four city employees, is the same as in the proposed ordinance, with the noted last minute addition of a fifth member, who is a “peer business owner.” The memo establishing the Safety Review Board reads like an ordinance, but the Safety Review Board established by this memo has no inherent power.
According to the memo, if a bar or restaurant has a “violent incident” and is asked to appear before the Safety Review Board but does not comply with the recommendations made by that board, then that private business will be subject to enhanced enforcement efforts by the Building Inspections Department, the Planning Department, the agencies regulating businesses with alcohol sales and consumption licenses and could be declared a public nuisance by the city.
One man who did not identify himself but said that he was an attorney representing a number of businesses, noted that government establishments such as the Greensboro Coliseum were exempt from the proposed plan, that the plan was based on “zero findings of fact,” and that the public had not been informed of the Safety Review Board proposal with sufficient time to review it and comment on it.
Outling noted that there was no clarity on when a bar or restaurant would be subject to the Safety Review Board or how the recommendation process would work.
Outling also noted that the proposed plan was reactive rather than proactive.
He said, “We should be proactive with bars and restaurants to prevent crimes from actually occurring.”
Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said that she was totally against the ordinance, but that she could see how this plan might help a restaurant or bar stay in business after a violent incident.
She said, “I think this is going to be a big help to businesses.”