Nightclub ordinance passes

Tuesday, September 23rd 2008, 8:48 pm
By: News 9

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY - There is now come good news for Oklahoma City residents whose lives are disrupted by the activities outside nearby clubs and restaurants.

Oklahoma City police now have broader authority to have those businesses declared nuisances, and potentially have them shut down.

A debate occurred over the issue at city council Tuesday. This ordinance goes for any establishment that sells alcohol. The ordinance is aimed at a handful of clubs in the city that do little to discourage patrons from congregating outside, in the parking lot or on the sidewalk, where confrontations occur, and people get hurt, even killed.

Last February 9, just outside the doorway of Club Zax, on Classen Boulevard, three people were shot. It was the latest in a string of incidents there, only this time, one of victims, 19-year-old Kascey McClellan, didn't survive.

"My son would still be here today if they had the appropriate people in place, but there was no security in place," Lisa Murphy said.

The death of Murphy's son helped convince one city councilman that some club owners weren't doing enough to police their premises.

"And we as policy makers and we as government should do something before it endangers the lives of other individuals," Ward Seven Councilman Ronald "Skip" Kelly said.

The ordinance passed Tuesday makes it easier for clubs with multiple incidents -- anywhere on their property -- to be declared nuisances, a strong incentive for club owners to be more responsible.

"Oh, I am so excited about it," Murphy said. "I'm glad that he brought the club owners into accountability on this."

But many restaurant owners complained Tuesday that they hadn't been given the chance to voice concerns with the ordinance.

"We're a little bit concerned, maybe, about the possible far-reachingness, if you will, of this ordinance and what kind of liability or concerns it might have for our business, which is a legitimate business," Ed Lynn, Owner of Buffalo Wild Wings, said.

But supporters of the move said the ordinance won't affect responsible business owners, because they don't put up with this sort of activity anyway.

"And that's what everyone ought to do, when everybody doesn't do it, at some point government had to step in and say, ‘We've had enough,' and that's what I think this is," Ward Four Councilman Pete White said.

Under the ordinance, if a club or restaurant had three nuisance-category violations within a year, police said they would work with them to help them correct the situation, only if that failed, they said, might the place get shut down.

Restaurant and club owners did ask council to defer the item Tuesday and give them more time to understand it, but the sponsor declined, pointing out it had already been deferred twice before.