The city of West Palm Beach is cracking down on the nightlife scene along Clematis Street. Five bars are facing thousands of dollars in fines and some may even be forced to temporarily close down early after a hearing Wednesday afternoon.
Owners and representatives of Pawn Shop, Off the Hookah, Shout Karaoke, Monarchy Nightclub and Bar Louie appeared before a magistrate during the hearing to go over code violations including security violations and police being called too many times. City leaders say these issues can create a bad atmosphere downtown.
"If you don't have consistent rules on how these bars operate after hours, you get inconsistent experiences," said West Palm Beach City Administrator Jeff Green ."It can cause safety issues. It can cause the entire nightlife downtown to be a bad experience"
Shout Karaoke and Bar Louie made agreements with the city to pay fines. Monarchy Nightclub will be forced to shutdown at midnight for ten days in September rather than its usual, later closing time.
"It can mean significant money, and I think they take it seriously, we take it seriously," Green said. "Really, today we were trying to send the message that we would like our businesses to consistently apply the regulations that are in place."
Pawn Shop and Off the Hookah could face early closure as well. They'll go back before the city in September.
Some bar owners don't feel the city is being completely fair.
"There's other clubs that they're not going after," said Randy Epstein, one of the owners of Monarchy Nightclub.
Green says the city is going after repeat offenders that have had several code violations already this year first.