If ever there was a slam dunk issue coming before City Council, it was the recent hearing – and final vote this week — on the Ybor City curfew. And if ever there was a sad commentary on the sorry state of some parents’ priorities, it’s this proposal, which will ban those younger than 18 from Ybor from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m., Thursday through Saturday.
Government’s role shouldn’t be surrogate parenting. In effect, however, that’s its charge here. That is, keeping somebody’s 17-year-olds – and a lot younger — from hanging where they don’t belong: the adult entertainment district that is late-night and early-morning Ybor. It’s also the city’s highest crime-rate area during overnight hours.
To recap, the curfew was necessitated by a rash of late night incidents this summer that involved teenagers harassing – and sometimes robbing – Ybor patrons. A beefed-up police presence then reduced the number of incidents.
Some, if not most, of the teens were attracted by Club Bling, which caters, if you can believe, to the 13-to-17 crowd. Now the Blingers will have to clear out early – not the 12.30 a.m. closing time. Mercifully, it’s only open on Saturday nights now.
Credit should be given to city attorneys who crafted an ordinance that – by virtue of covering a limited area and providing for exemptions — can likely withstand legal challenges already being salivated over by the ACLU.
What Ybor couldn’t withstand for long was an eroding reputation as a place that was both welcoming and safe for visitors and locals – the very adults that Ybor must continue to attract to survive. A rigidly enforced curfew can help make that happen.
Any help from parents would be appreciated.