I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Nobody is Going to Like This.......

Nobody is going to like the ordinance the BCC passed tonight regarding open containers of alcohol on the Quietwater Beach Boardwalk.

I didn't like the initial motion which was to continue an ordinance banning open containers of alcohol on the boardwalk for an additional (2) two years time.  I voiced my opposition and so did two of my colleagues.

I've given my reasons for opposing this ban at two previous meetings and here on this blog as well;  in a nutshell, the premise for making the restriction was purportedly to give a year under the ordinance to collect data showing this would be beneficial.  The data shows this ban increased crime--but nobody wanted to seriously dig into that.....

The motion was then restated and modified to a (1) one year continuance of the ban at Quietwater beach.

With that motion hanging out there and no clear consensus, the discussion turned to a further modification of the proposed ordinance which stated the ban would be in place for one year and only in force from 6:00AM to 10:00PM at the boardwalk--in an effort to keep the ban in place in order to keep the atmosphere on the boardwalk "family friendly" during the daytime and early evening hours.

 From 10:00 PM-6:00AM 7 days a week, the ordinance will not apply and open containers of alcohol

 will once again be allowed on the boardwalk.
Hooligans that like to fight and cause trouble at the
beach tend to be night-owls.  They'll love the hours we set
for open containers being permitted at the beach, this
will allow them to sleep in until 10PM, when they
will once again descend upon the boardwalk, legally,
with open containers......

I think we got these hours backwards, though.  We should have allowed the open containers during the day when responsible families enjoy these facilities responsibly.  Ideally, it should have been open containers allowed until 8:00PM (if we wanted to set hours) because the hooligan element comes out at night typically, and nighttime is when the booze ban would have been more effective at curbing the hooliganism.  As it stands, we played right into the hooligans' hands--they will love this!  Because we did this in a sloppy, choppy, rushed manner in order to stumble into a consensus, we didn't think this part through and yes we got the hours backwards.  And the hooligans will return at night after 10:00.

I couldn't support this.

This motion, as modified, was seconded and voted upon.  It passed 4-1 with me voting "no."

I looked out at the folks in the audience who were "pro-ban"-and they looked unhappy.

Those, like me, that wanted this ordinance to sunset due to the alarming increases in crime in just the one year since the ordinance was enacted, were also visibly upset at this vote as well.  They didn't like it either.

What kind of signage changes are we going to have to make?... this will be interesting.

It seems we were so interested in getting something done, getting some sort of "win"---that we muddied the waters and concocted an ordinance on the fly in an attempt at a compromise.  I appreciated the discussion and the willingness of my counterparts to move to a compromise position that attempts to strike a balance between banning open containers outright and letting the ordinance sunset thereby permitting open containers once again on the boardwalk--but I remain convinced that a better approach would have been to let this ordinance sunset and return to the drawing board in a year.

We didn't do that though.

This compromise made nobody happy.  Some would say this is the sign that a good bargain was struck.  I'm not convinced.

I'd say let's give it a year and look back on the issue...because nobody is going to like this.

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