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Where the wild things aren’t

by YES! Staff

Last week news came out that Greensboro police Chief Ken Miller, in conjunction with police attorney Jim Clark and District 3 Councilman Zack Matheny, are setting about enacting a new vision for downtown Greensboro.

It began back in January with the downtown noise ordinance, a solution catering to a problem that seemed specific to two residents of a single downtown condominium complex.

The ordinance took aim squarely at downtown bars and nightclubs, which the ordinance’s backers blame for the unsettling disquiet that the city’s most vibrant district experiences after the sun goes down.

This next salvo holds these same nightclubs responsible for the existence of violence in our city’s borders, requiring all clubs with a capacity above 150 to adhere to a security-plan manual that stipulates, among other things, that all security personnel must be registered through the state, follow strict protocols after confrontations inside the clubs and patrol  adjacent properties as part of their duties. The manual also dictates how many security guards a nightclub must have on duty.

Downtown is one of the least violent places in Greensboro, with the highest concentration of nightclubs.

On the surface, many of these regulations seem intuitive. But make no mistake: This is social engineering, designed to manipu late the character of our city’s most public space. The fact that the new rules are geared toward nightclubs, where perhaps 1 percent of the violent acts in the city are perpetrated, speaks to this.

According to the GPD website, the city’s most violent tracts are in the south, near the industrial section of Elm/Eugene Street, with a pocket in the southwest along High Point Road and some more along the northeast border of the city. Downtown is one of the least violent places in Greensboro, with the highest concentration of nightclubs. Yet Matheny, whose District 3 is one of the city’s least violent though it includes much of downtown, has inserted himself in the process.

We have to ask ourselves: Why? Why this ordinance geared at nightclubs when violence is clearly a citywide problem pegged more to socioeconomic status than any particular type of business? Why now, when downtown businesses — with the possible exception of luxury condominium sales — seem to be thriving?

In the absence of straight answers, we leave you to draw your own conclusions.

In the meantime, we suggest that overregulation of those business concerns in Greensboro that are actually doing well is a step in the wrong direction, made for all the wrong reasons and being perpetrated in such a way as to impede transparency —through personal e-mail messages and closed-room conversations as opposed to public forums.

This ordinance has not even made its way to the council agenda… yet. The proposal should come before council in November, at which point perhaps the public will be included in the process.

YES! Weekly chooses to exercise its right to express editorial opinion in our publication. In fact we cherish it, considering opinion to be a vital component of any publication. The viewpoints expressed represent a consensus of the YES! Weekly editorial staff, achieved through much deliberation and consideration .

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