St. Petersburg City Council Votes in Favor of Alcohol Sales Until 3 a.m.

Share on Nextdoor


But resident Daphne Miller urged the council to find other means of additional income for the city's economy.

"I am against this. I feel that the benefit to a few businesses is not a benefit to the entire city," said Miller. But over 4,000 citizens who signed a petition in favor of the change disagree. Those signatures were gathered by the collaboration of Dave's Aqua Lounge, the St. Petersburg Hospitality Association and Sterling Powell, a local community organizer. Powell says he thinks the it was the collaborative effort of this initiative which make it successful. But credited Dave Mamber, owner of Dave]'s Aqua Lounge, for spearheading the movement.

Mamber pushed not only for the extension of alcoholic beverage sales on site, but also sought companion hours for package store sales. As reported last week by Creative Loafing, Mamber saw a massive drop in revenue when he was annexed into the city and forced to close his package store at midnight.

"It wasnt from partying kids or anything, there are a lot of people in my neighborhood that are in businesses that are 24/7, they have three shifts. The shifts get off at midnight, one or two in the morning, and maybe they don't feel very social about going to a bar at 3 in the morning, but they would prefer to take a package home that would get them off the road sooner and put them in their house sooner," Mamber said.

Of the three versions of the ordinance, only one extended companion hours for package stores like Dave's, but only the version which included that provision was read to the council on April 16 and that was the version that passed.

Barry Edwards works as a political consultant in the bay area and complained that without the extension events like the Republican National Convention will be less likely to come here.

"All ages and college students, the best and the brightest.They want to have a good time, they want to enjoy food, they want enjoy the things that make this a great city. This is another step in making this americas next great city, not Tampa-but St.petersburg," Edwards said.

But Police Chief Chuck Harmon cautioned that the time change would result in increased response times for calls.Harmon explained that officers are already utilizing 150-200 hours of overtime but didn't anticipate an increase in DUI's or crimes as a result of later hours.

That's if Harmon doesn't receieve that additional 12 officers and 1.2 million dollars in funding needed to make up the difference.

"If we do this without adding extra officers, you are probably adding four to fifteen minutes per call during that busiest time period. it will absolutely reduce our response time during the busiest time during the day," said Harmon.

Council member Jeff Danner questioned Harmon's cost estimate in relation to alcohol sales for one additional hour.

"Interestingly, calls for service at 2 p.m. are twice as high as 2 a.m. and at 1 a.m. when the beverage of choice is presumed to be alcohol is equal to 9 a.m. when coffee is probably the beverage of choice and you have the same number of calls for service," said Danner.

But Harmon rebutted that the majority of the population isn't up and about at 2 a.m. but the call level during that time is high for the number of people awake. Mayor Bill Foster cautioned that council against passing the ordinance without considering the effects on safety.

"Don't assume, and it would be dangerous, don't assume that the police department can just...handle it without the enhancements the chief was talking about," said Foster.

But the Mayor also stated that he would not veto the ordinance if the council decided it was beneficial to the community.

"The restaurants and businesses will make more money, so first follow the money and second it will extend the social hour, the happy hour and in some ways some will say enhance that quality of life. Again, I've been in bed five hours by that time so I will never see that," said Foster.

Council members Herb Polson and Leslie Curran were the only votes in opposition of the ordinance. Curran, who has been a major player in Downtown's revitalization of the 600 Block on Central Avenue warned that this will tarnish their progress.

"i just think its unnecessary at the time. We've worked very hard to be the tourist destination that we are, we've changed our image, we aren't a city where you come to die and i just don't think that its necessary," said Curran.

After the vote, the room erupted with applause and a teary eyed Mamber embraced fellow supporters.

"There is a God," said Mamber "I think for a progressive city like st. petersburg wants to be offering all these city services is absolutely wonderful and having the ability to dispense our products-fantastic."

The ordinance will go into affect on May 14th.

The taps and tabs will stay open one hour later in St. Petersburg beginning Tuesday. After two hours of intense discussion at the St. Petersburg City Council meeting this morning, the motion passed with a six to two vote. The push to keep bars open later would put St. Petersburg on equal footing with Tampa's alcohol curfew and could significantly increase revenue for the city's bars and restaurants. Council members were flooded with over four thousand signatures on a petition to pass the ordinance.

In a last minute push to encourage the passage of ordinance 976-G, the city heard public comment on the issue. John Long, president of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce presented their poll's results on the issue. Asked whether they supported the ordinance, 73% of residents asked supported the extended hours.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.