The much-maligned restaurant and bar security ordinance promoted by Mayor Nancy Vaughan is back.
Except this time it isn’t an ordinance but a city policy to deal with privately owned establishments with a license to sell alcoholic beverages that have had a “violent incident” on or near their premises.
According to the memo sent to city councilmembers titled “Standard Operating Procedure, City of Greensboro Safety Review Board,” the policy won’t have the authority to force restaurants or bars to comply. However, those who fail to follow the “recommendations” of the Safety Review Board “may be declared a public nuisance.” Or the city “May subject the applicable location to enforcement by the North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement Division of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and/or the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.” And finally, the policy states, “Nothing herein shall prevent the City from enforcing any City ordinances at the applicable location, including but not limited to regulations related to the Building & Inspections or Zoning restrictions.”
So, while this is not an ordinance passed by the City Council with legal penalties, if a restaurant or bar doesn’t comply with the policy the city is going to use the massive amount of bureaucracy available to attempt to bring that establishment into compliance.
The Safety Review Board itself is an interesting entity. There is no indication in the policy of how the board will be appointed but it will include “a member of the Greensboro Police Department Command Staff, a member of the Greensboro Fire Department Fire Marshalls Office, a member of the Department of Neighborhood Development, and a member of the Department of Building and Inspection.”
So it is likely no one on the Safety Review Board set up to determine how restaurants and bars operate after a “violent incident” has occurred on or near their premises will have any experience actually operating a restaurant or bar.
The policy exempts all city and government owned facilities. It also exempts private educational and religious institutions, non-profits, athletic fields and events, festivals, carnivals, fairs, circuses, exhibitions, trade shows and parades.
In other words, the policy is specifically targeted toward privately owned bars and restaurants.
And interesting part of the policy is that it treats bars and restaurants with on premises alcohol consumption licenses the same as businesses that sell alcohol but do not have an on-premises consumption license and illegally allow their customers to consume alcohol on-premises.
Vaughan has been pushing for such an ordinance but has not had the support of the majority of the City Council.
This appears to be an effort to have the effect of a bar and restaurant security ordinance without going through the process of having the City Council actually approve such an ordinance.
The remedial actions that the Safety Review Board would require, according to the memo, are similar to what the proposed ordinance would have required. It includes hiring additional armed security guards, requiring the use of metal detectors, and maintaining a list of all the patrons who come into the establishment to be given to the Greensboro Police Department if the Police Department gets a search warrant.