The restaurant and entertainment ordinance proposed by Mayor Nancy Vaughan hasn’t gotten past the proposal stage, but already the City of Greensboro is being threatened with a lawsuit.
Amiel Rossabi of Rossabi Law Partners sent a letter to Vaughan and each city councilmember on Wednesday, Jan. 27 on behalf of unnamed restaurants and clubs his firm represents.
In the first sentence Rossabi states, “I am writing to express our displeasure and strenuous opposition to the recent efforts by Mayor Vaughan and other council members to enact a new restaurant and entertainment ordinance.”
The ordinance Vaughan has proposed would require businesses with onsite consumption of alcohol licenses to implement a security plan approved by the city if an aggravated assault or homicide occurred in the business or on property under its control, such as parking lots.
Vaughan said this was in response to the 61 homicides in Greensboro in 2020, an all-time record. However, as pointed out by Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter, only two of those homicides actually occurred at businesses that would be covered by this proposed ordinance.
Rossabi states, “The basic premises posited by Mayor Vaughan that there is a need for this ordinance due to violent crime being connected to establishments that serve alcohol is blatantly false and based on no statistics. In addition, Greensboro’s last efforts to enact such an ordinance were equally baseless, unconstitutional and forced to be abandoned as a result of the threat of lawsuits by ‘entertainment’ facilities. Moreover, to the extent that this proposed ordinance seeks to exempt (as it did in 2014) the Coliseum, the Tanger Center, college facilities and government operated facilities, it, too, will be unconstitutional and a blatant mistake again by Mayor Vaughan and a majority of the Council.”
The ordinance Rossabi refers to in 2014 was passed by the City Council, but the council then voted to place a moratorium on its enforcement and the moratorium has never been lifted, although technically the ordinance is still on the books.
Rossabi notes that, according to Greensboro Police Chief Brian James, the main cause of the increase in violent crime and homicides are poverty and the lack of economic development.
Rossabi states, “During Mayor Vaughan’s tenure, the majority of this Council has done little to promote economic development and has done virtually nothing to support the Greensboro Police Department. The cause of this drastic increase in homicides and violent crime lays at the footsteps of this Council, not at hard-working business owners.”
The City Council has requested public input on the proposed ordinance and that is what it is getting.