Candidate's answers are listed in alphabetical order. If we have not published answers from a candidate, that is because we have not received a response from that candidate to our questionnaire. These pages will be updated in due course as we receive any additional responses.
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3. Regulatory Demands
On July 1, 2013, City Council enacted the “Late Night Entertainment Establishment” (“LNEE”)
Ordinance. A LNEE is a business that:
1. Is not located in a structure that provides “accommodations”;
2. Is open after midnight;
3. Is licensed to allow on-premises consumption of alcoholic beverages; and
4. Is required to have a Class 7(a) business license.
State law requires that all establishments that serve liquor must also serve food. Class 7(a) and 7(b) essentially separates such establishments into two categories: nightclubs and restaurants. Class 7(a) defines night clubs as establishments “which derive thirty-five (35%) or more of their gross income from the sale of beer, wine and/or alcoholic beverages.”
Currently, a LNEE must submit an application to the LNEE Review Committee. The application must include, among other requirements, (1) a security management plan, (2) a waste management plan, and (3) an emergency action plan. The security management plan must describe with particularity how the LNEE will control crowds and underage drinking.
Once an application has been accepted, the LNEE Ordinance mandates the following
Operational Regulations upon all LNEEs:
a. Employ door security and indoor security. The required number of such staff is calculated according to a preset occupancy level.
b. Monitor both on-site and off-site parking areas to prevent them from becoming
“outdoor gathering areas”;
c. Identify off-site areas “used for parking” by patrons, and clear both said off-site
parking and on-site parking areas within thirty (30) minutes of closing;
d. “Employ crowd management techniques to assure that patrons are adequately
“disbursed [sic, “dispersed”] throughout the establishment”;
e. Maintain patron lines outdoors so that they do not block the sidewalk;
f. Shut doors and windows when playing music after 11:00. Even after doors and windows are shut, the LNEE violates the Ordinance if it generates noise that can be heard within fifty (50) feet of its entrance;
g. Waste Management: LNEEs are responsible for maintaining sidewalks abutting the
Violation of any of these requirements results in a criminal citation in Livability Court.
Considering the aggregate of these regulations, what would you do – if anything – to ensure that all LNEE regulations are effective, and not overly burdensome or harmful to business success? Similarly, what would you do to ensure that LNEE regulations are enforced fairly?
The food and beverage industry is a tremendous economic driver in Charleston. In 2015, the estimated hospitality tax revenue will be $13,807,500. It will be the responsibility of the next mayor to balance the needs of a growing industry with residents’ quality of life. Overly burdensome regulations can have a chilling affect on the industry. We need to look at creative ways to minimize burdens. The city and the food and beverage industry should be partners, not adversaries.
Hospitality and the food and beverage industries are vital components of Charleston’s economy, including late night entertainment establishments (LNEE). And like any other economic driver in the city, I would not impose overly burdensome. We will review the regulations periodically to assess their effectiveness and whether they were meeting their goals and if those goals could be met in a less burdensome manner. I believe that effective enforcement of the LNEE regulations would include a visible police presence, an easily navigable process to respond to complaints, and a responsive city staff to work through any issues, seen or unforeseen. We will take very seriously maintaining order on our streets and to uphold the standard of excellence of Charleston’s neighborhoods.
As I make clear in my comprehensive plan for Charleston, Our Quality of Life First, making livability and quality of life job one starts with bringing our citizens, neighborhoods and local businesses into the City governing process in a much more meaningful way, which will help us capture that demographic complexity, and develop a consensus on many qualityoflife issues before they become divisive. Moreover, I believe we have to recognize that quality of life is an issue that expresses itself differently in different areas and populations of the city. In West Ashley, for example, strategic economic development of underperforming retail areas is a major livability issue, whereas in some other parts of the city, a pause in development is a more appropriate answer to the qualityoflife challenges those residents and neighborhoods are facing.
To learn more about my quality of life proposals for each area of Charleston, please see the Stronger Neighborhoods section of my plan, as well as the more general Livability and Quality of Life section: