ORLANDO, Fla. – After more than an hour of discussion, Monday, city commissioners unanimously passed the first reading of a new ordinance aimed at reducing crime downtown. It comes more than 2 weeks after police say seven people were hurt in downtown Orlando after a fight led to gunfire near Wall Street and Orange Avenue.
The new ordinance addresses three key areas, including making sure private parking lots open after 10 p.m. have a security guard present, and proper lighting. Also, the city wants to ensure there is compliance with the noise ordinance, including limiting the size of outdoor speakers.
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And it requires a Special Use Permit for new businesses or when there’s a change of ownership for bars open after midnight.
Using a service that tracks cell phone locations, Orlando city officials said that as many as 35,000 people have been filling the streets of downtown Orlando on Friday and Saturday nights.
“I’d like to see some of the attention paid towards the occupancy and how we deal with the promoters late at night,” said Commissioner Patty Sheehan.
“Do we want to shut down downtown Orlando? I don’t think that’s the way to go. We still want to make it where people can come downtown is equitable and inclusive,” said Commissioner Regina Hill.
Downtown business owners, residents, and many others weighed in too.
“Nightclubs are not to blame. The sound of music is not to blame. We are here on the ground, and we want our staff to be safe more than anyone,” said one person.
Following that July 31 shooting, Mayor Buddy Dyer enacted six access checkpoints downtown on Friday and Saturday evenings.
He said patrons have to go through metal detectors and a weapons check before walking into the access areas.
“We’ve had a couple of incidents where people were shot, and we don’t want any of that. We don’t want anyone to be shot, and we don’t want that to be our reputation,” said Dyer.
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Sherwood Brown lives downtown and said the checkpoints are a good first step.
“After hearing about all the crime that’s been going on down here, I think it’s a good idea,” said Brown.
Though other downtown residents we spoke with said trying to get home on weekend evenings has been a burden.
One resident told News 6 he was told to come back around 4 a.m. when he was trying to get home around 2 a.m. because of the checkpoints.
The city said after feedback they’ve received, going forward East Pine Street will not be impacted by changes during those coordinated times of entry.
The city has also offered businesses near Orange Avenue a $10,000 grant to provide for security improvements, though officials said no businesses have completed the application.
Under the new ordinance, all parking lots and garages in the area are required to have a security guard stationed nearby at night.
There will be a second reading of the ordinance and public comment on Sept. 12.