• Nightlife changes in St. Augustine met with praise and concern

    By: Dani Bozzini , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - A safe nightlife in St. Augustine: That's what city officials are pushing for after seeing a spike in crime and calls for service in 2018.

    To change the trend, the city is looking to make some major changes downtown.

    Longtime St. Augustine resident Leslie Craig says, "It's the history, it's the bars. I think you could eat or drink in a different place every day of the year and still not hit them all." 

    That's why Craig and so many others make a trip to the oldest city in America.
    But in 2018, the city saw a major spike in late night crime.

    Between the hours of 11:30 at night and 4 a.m., the city had nearly 100 more calls for service in 2018 alone than it had over the entire span from 2010 to 2013.

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    To turn the trend around and make sure the nightlife is safe, the city is focusing on five big changes, which include more night lighting, increased police presence and more frequent trash pickup downtown.

    Another part of the plan is to designate hubs for ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

    Craig says, "I think those are good changes because that will help protect the public." 
    But one change that's being met with some concern is a potential new fee for businesses serving alcohol past midnight.

    Jayson Beyfort, the general manager at No Name Bar, says, "We're the entertainment, yet they want to put more restrictions on us and charge us more for permits, which would initially put them underground. It would close them." 

    Beyfort tells Action News Jax that instead, last call should be moved up to 1:30 a.m. rather than 2 a.m., when the bar closes, to allow people to start leaving in groups instead of all at once.

    Beyfort says, "You can't control what a human does. A human is a human. When a human leaves the bar and goes around the corner and kicks over a mailbox, it's not my fault or the bar's fault, it's his fault." 

    The city is holding a public workshop on the proposed changes Wednesday Aug. 28 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at City Hall.

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