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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Edgewood, Auburn bars could pour until 3:55 a.m. under councilmembers' late-night bar hours pilot program

Last year, Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall proposed rolling back bar hours in hopes the additional carousers would boost revenues and help revive the city's dwindling nightlife. The proposal, which came out of nowhere just weeks before the Council called it quits for the year, was met with applause from bar owners and night owls and jeers from some neighborhood advocates. Hall decided he'd fight another day. But he also promised to revisit the issue.

Today he did.

Hall and Councilmember Michael Julian Bond want the city to launch a pilot program to evaluate the benefits (and challenges) later bar hours might pose for businesses, residents and city officials. And where better to start, the councilmen say, than Edgewood and Auburn avenues, two historic downtown streets that are already home to an up-and-coming nightlife scene — and in dire need of investment?

Under legislation introduced today by the two councilmembers, bars in the district could opt for the following hours:

>> Monday through Friday: Such bars as Noni's and Pal's Lounge could pour from 9 a.m. until 3:55 a.m. the following day.
>> Saturday: You could imbibe from 9 a.m. until 2:55 a.m. on Sunday morning.

Of course, bars gotta pay a premium if they want to enjoy the perk. Under the proposal, watering holes that participate in the pilot program would have to pay a special $2,500 "extended hours permit," plus a $300 filing fee. Bars would have to be free of any city or state alcohol violations in the last 12 months. They'd also have to hire an off-duty police officer to provide security. The permit, which remains valid for the same period of time as its associated annual booze license, could also be revoked by the police chief if the licensee failed to be responsible.

Hall also introduced a separate resolution calling for a full review of the alcohol license and review process in the city. That task would be headed by a committee comprised of residents, bar owners and public officials. Council's Public Safety Committee gets the fun task of picking the group's membership.

There are many ways this proposal could be good (and bad) for the city's nightlife and budget. Feel free to start thinking out loud, with your fingers, in the form of angry comments to me. Or simply pour yourself a tall, refreshing glass of Franzia and read the legislation PDF here.

UPDATED, 7:07 p.m.: Hall, Bond and Council President Ceasar Mitchell, who's proposed examining later bar hours before, chime in via city press release:

According to Hall, “This pilot program will allow us to determine whether current hours of operation could be extended and, if so, how the extension of this privilege should be managed by the city so as to serve the best interest and public safety of citizens and visitors.” [...]

“Our tourism, convention and entertainment businesses are central to Atlanta’s economic health as well as our largest providers of jobs,” said Bond. “The pilot will give the City an opportunity to test the waters — can it increase the City’s revenues without negatively impacting our public safety infrastructure.” [...]

“Having devoted considerable time and energy in the past to connecting our pouring hours with public safety and economic development, I intend to remain engaged and involved with this important initiative,” said City Council President Ceasar C. Mitchell. “It is further imperative that we garner sufficient input from our affected stakeholders in both our neighborhoods and in the business community.”

UPDATE, Wed., 11:01 a.m.:Here's a map of the proposed district.


View Edgewood Avenue/Auburn Avenue Pilot District in a larger map

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