Readers understand, dislike earlier closings

Closing Time pollStaff Report
Published June 5, 2014

A nonscientific, three-day online poll of Business Journal readers shows little support for a zoning change that would require new bars, restaurants, convenience stores, gas stations and grocery stores to close at midnight in Charleston.

Nearly 80% of readers who took the poll said they were not in favor of the change. But about 56% said they understood the why the city was making such a proposal. Nearly 20% said they didn’t understand the reasoning behind the change, and less than 22% said they partially understood the reasoning.

The poll also asked readers to offer comments. A lot of readers thought the plan, which grandfathers in existing businesses and exempts hotel bars and restaurants, was a strategic move to eventually require a citywide 12 a.m. closing time for everyone. Others thought it was shortsighted and would likely backfire. Those in favor of it emphasized that criminal acts and consumption of alcohol and drugs could take place later at night. Here is a selection of comments. Click here to see the entire poll results and comments, which also are embedded below:

Selected comments from readers
(edited for style and typos)

“This amendment would cost Charleston an enormous amount of tax money both on income and sales tax. In addition, what major American city closes their bars at midnight and still maintains an appeal to any tourists or visitors under the age of 60?...None.”

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“Bars in residential areas I can understand, but King Street is a commercial corridor as is the Market. SLED and CPD should do their jobs, Riley created this, and Upper King is driving growth throughout the peninsula.”

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“This is the easiest but strictest option to solve public drunkenness, loudness, vomiting, violence, police cost and sexual assault associated with intoxication. The bars and such could police themselves by refusing to serve someone on the way to drunkenness, but this has not been done sufficiently. So, we have to resort to closing instead. Regrettable but apparently necessary.”

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“Let the free market decide. If bar-goers misbehave, arrest them and fine them BIG, BIG, BIG dollars to help offset the cost of the police activity.”

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“Whatever happened to helping small business? As a resident of the proposed entertainment district, I'm aghast.”

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“I went downtown to our office to pick something up late at night, and the screaming and hollering was scary. Our office is at the corner of King and Queen, not exactly in the bar zone anyway. This unruliness has to end!”

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“This will cause bar-goers to leave at midnight, but they won't go home. They'll go straight into downtown neighborhoods to continue the party at their friends’ houses. See Oxford, Miss., where the bars close at either midnight or 1 a.m. (Thursday and Friday). The ‘late nights’ or after-parties are often so large that the police are far outnumbered and can do nothing but direct traffic. This will be a disaster. Keep the partiers in the bars. “

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“While not a downtown resident anymore, I do comprehend the challenges of living nearby businesses, which close late. What’s more, owners of residences in and around the Historic District have a heavy burden: They own and care for historic homes, which are subject to many restrictions and want the same assurance of security and enjoyment of home as those living in the ’burbs. The last time I looked at an overlay map of violent crime in the blocks bordering upper King Street, I was amazed at the high rate of violent crime in those areas. Somebody has to draw the line somewhere. Otherwise, we'll have lots of businesses at cross purposes with residential taxpayers ... which we already have in the upper King Street area.”

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“Riley is once again catering to the much smaller in number wealthy, older residents instead of the majority that want to see Charleston continue to thrive as a foodie and tourist hot spot.”

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“I understand the stance ... I just think it's ridiculous.”

 

 

The entire poll results are embedded below, along with comments from readers who wanted to offer their point of view. The entire poll was conducted anonymously and none of the comments have been edited, changed or deleted.

 

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