City officials put off an ordinance that sought to reduce operating hours for alcohol-serving establishments by one-hour. The tabled ordinance called for liquor stores and bars to close at 2 a.m. as opposed to 3 a.m.
“I don’t think any of the council members agreed on this so we put it off,” said Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, 2nd Ward councilman, who heads the council’s public safety committee. “Right now, it’s off the table.”
Members of the governing body decided to table the ordinance during Tuesday’s city council session.
“I think it’s a bad idea,” said Alex Mendez, councilman at-large, about the hour reduction that would have impacted 154 alcohol serving establishments. “We’re making a mistake.”
The city has 197 alcoholic beverage licenses, of which 12 are not in use, 31 fall under business curfew for being in high crime areas, and 154 are outside the curfew.
“I don’t know if our bars generate the same problems as liquor stores,” said William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman. “This is more gear towards bars.”
McKoy said the city should measure the impact of the business curfew before passing another ordinance reducing hours of operation for businesses. McKoy said anecdotal evidence suggests the business curfew that forces all businesses in crime hotspots to close at midnight is having a positive impact on the city.
Despite stating the business curfew is working, McKoy said he has yet to see compelling data supporting the city-wide one-hour reduction for liquor establishments. Police director Jerry Speziale had told council members the one-hour reduction would align the city with neighboring towns and halt an inflow of mischief makers from coming into the city when bars close in surrounding towns.
McKoy said the city shouldn’t simply copy neighboring towns, but make the decision using data. Mendez concurred saying he has yet to see any data to support this ordinance.
“The reason why they want us to reduce the hours is to be like some of the other towns because all the people from those towns are coming into Paterson, I definitely do not believe that,” said Mendez. “I would love to see more people coming into the city to spend their money and patronize our restaurants.”
Mendez said he consulted two mayors during a visit to Atlantic City about the issue. He said both of them told him by passing such an ordinance the city would place itself at a “disadvantage.”
“Data supports closing the time back,” said mayor Jose “Joey” Torres. “If the council doesn’t want to do it that’s their prerogative.”
Torres said with the one-hour reduction alcohol establishments will still enjoy 20 hours of business. The mayor said he prays it doesn’t take a tragedy to see the council move on the measure.
“Something tragic happens and the council reacts,” said Torres. “I’m trying to be proactive instead of reactive.”