Matos to introduce nightlife ordinances to City Council

PROVIDENCE – City Council President Sabina Matos will propose changes to city regulations on nightlife entertainment and establishments, including new liquor licenses, she announced on Tuesday.

Matos cited high-profile nightclub-related violence as the impetus to study nightlife regulations, an inquiry that resulted in several proposed ordinances and resolutions. 

“Two months ago, I asked members of my policy team to convene with representatives from the Board of Licenses, the Solicitor’s office, the Department of Planning, the Police Department, and leaders from the nightlife community to help produce a comprehensive set of strategies to preserve public safety and the enjoyment of our city’s nighttime businesses,” said Matos in a statement. “Every summer, we read the headlines about nightclub-related acts of violence claiming young people’s lives and disrupting the peace of the neighborhoods they do business in.”

One of her three proposed ordinances includes changing where the city will issue new 2 a.m. liquor licenses, specifically to stop issuing such licenses in commercial corridors that connect to residential areas.

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Matos said that this will result in the issuance of 1 a.m. licenses that will funnel patronage to 2 a.m. food establishments and to stagger bar-goer and nightclub patrons’ exit into the streets. The ordinance is also designed to concentrate 2 a.m. licenses into a more police-able area, specifically in downtown Providence and other nonresidential areas, she said.

The specific areas that would see the halt of 2 a.m. license issuances would be C-1, C-2 and C-3 zones, which include areas on Atwells Avenue, Broad Street, Chalkstone Avenue, and other residential-adjacent corridors.

Another proposed ordinance would require Class B businesses to have video surveillance indoors and outdoors. Police would have access to recordings that would be required to be kept for 14 days.

 A Class B licensee is defined as, “Any shop or place where a substantial part of the business is the furnishing of food for consumption at the place where it is furnished.”

The third ordinance would further clarify what pertains a nightclub in the city, in addition to codifying punishments for specific violations.

Those violations are:

  • Entertainment without a license
  • Prohibited bottle service
  • Enforcement of operating hours and bar service
  • Underage drinking and sales
  • Smoking in public places

Matos also said she has introduced resolutions to require Class B businesses to be cleared by zoning before their application is finalized and to have licensing officers and zoning enforcement cross-training on a platform that collects an establishment’s licenses, permitted zoning uses and past violations. The system will be available on an app for mobile devices as well.

The ordinances and resolutions will be introduced in committee to be vetted and to allow for public comment.

“These measures [will] establish a new tone moving forward and will also change the negative narrative given to the nightlife culture in our city,” said Matos.

Chris Bergenheim is the PBN web editor. You may reach him at PBN.com.

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