Houston city council approves new ordinance aimed to fight crime to 'create a more safe environment'

Chaz Miller Image
Thursday, May 25, 2023
City of Houston cracks down on after-hours BYOB businesses
The city of Houston has a new crime-fighting tool after approving an ordinance that cracks down on after-hours establishments where customers BYOB.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The city of Houston says it has a new crime-fighting tool thanks to an ordinance that cracks down on after-hours establishments where customers bring their own alcohol.

This isn't for BYOB establishments that close their doors before midnight. Popular restaurants aren't required to adhere to the new regulations passed at the city council Wednesday morning.

City leaders say this is a way to close the loophole created by clubs, restaurants, bars, and sexually-oriented businesses that operate without a license from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

"These are establishments that have either been denied a TABC permit or have never even sought to get one," District C Councilwoman Abbie Kamin said.

The ordinance goes into effect immediately, but Mayor Sylvester Turner is allowing a 30-day "education period" that'll give businesses a chance to catch up on the new protocols.

BYOB places operating at any point from 12:01 a.m. through 7 a.m. must now have a yearly permit; the owner has to pass a background check; there has to be a wand or metal detector on site; there must be a security guard for every 100 customers and alcohol consumption must end at 2:15 a.m.

There also needs to be signs outside saying alcohol can't be consumed in the parking lot of these places.

"This is another way to try and create a more safe environment," Turner said.

The mayor cited Houston Police Department statistics that show that four of the nine homicides between Nov. 1, 2022, and April 18, 2023, happened after 2 a.m. at these sorts of businesses.

Councilmember Tiffany Thomas went even further back by bringing up a 2021 homicide at a now-shuttered club in southwest Houston.

"Chemistry Lounge was shut down due to a homicide on Clarkcrest," she explained. "It took us 18 months to shut that down because HPD didn't have the teeth to go in there legitimately."

The new ordinance gives Houston police the authority to enter these places and give citations, which can lead to permits being revoked after multiple violations.

Additionally, the city now has the ability to sue in order to designate problem spots as "public nuisances," which can lead to court injunctions saying problem businesses can no longer operate.

"Ain't nothing open after 11 p.m. that's good," Thomas said. "That's what my momma used to say."

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