Wichita city council looks at after-hours spots ordinance

Local

Wichita police are looking to change licensing laws for after-hours establishments.

City council members are set to look at a proposed ordinance draft that requires after-hours spots to be licensed.

After-hours spots usually operate from midnight to 6 a.m.

In August, Police Chief Gordon Ramsay told city council that these types of businesses don’t have rules or licensing.

“They pretty much do whatever they want inside,” Ramsay said. “The lack of regulations are dangerous for the people that go there, for the neighbors.”

If police get called out to an after-hours location, they can’t go inside without a warrant since the business is unlicensed.

The proposed ordinance will require after-hours locations that meet two of 11 criteria to apply for a license.

  • Plays recorded or live music
  • Entertainment such as games or trivia
  • Sporting events in person or broadcast on screens
  • Crowds in excess of 20 people
  • Alcoholic beverages present
  • Food by an unlicensed vendor offered for purchase or as a benefit of paid entry
  • Entry allowed only upon payment of a fee or membership
  • Establishment monitored by security guards
  • Event of location is advertised on social media or other means as a function where the public is invited to attend

According to staff reports, hotels, hospitals, private residences and single event parties do not have to obtain a license. Drinking establishments, restaurants and all-night stores are also exempt from the proposed ordinance.

Licensed establishment will be required to follow the rules and regulations in the ordinance, which include: requirements for proper lighting, security and crowd control. In addition, no alcohol is allowed at the locations after midnight.

The ordinance also states owners and managers must allow fire and law enforcement access to the inside of the business.

Councilwoman Cindy Claycomb said she supports the ordinance because it’s needed for public safety.

“There are activities going on in these after hours establishments that put residents at risk,” added Claycomb.

Wichita police analyzed data from five known unlicensed after-hours locations from 2013-2018. The report showed officers responded to 152 calls at the locations — which included two homicides, 14 major offenses (aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, and robbery), and eight larceny or burglary offenses.

In June, police responded to a shooting at one of the after-hours locations in town, Daiquiri’s, where they say a man died from multiple gunshot wounds inside. 

Just a month later, police say a man and woman were injured outside of another after-hours bar, the Lion’s Den.

KSN reached out to councilman James Clendenin, who represents District 3, where Daiquiri’s and the Lion’s Den are located. He said the numbers are concerning.

“After hours clubs cannot continue to operate in the same manner as in the past,” Clendenin said. “Neighborhoods have been disrupted, neighbors lives and those who patronize these establishments continue to be put in danger.”

Council members will vote on the first ordinance draft at their council meeting at 9 a.m.

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