The City Council bill that created a buzz among the Philadelphia nightlife crowd was voted out of a council committee last week, although the measure looks much different than the original.
The Committee on Licenses and Inspections approved the so-called “promoter bill” in a unanimous vote June 9. A full council vote was expected June 17.
More than 10,000 people signed on to a petition against the original measure, introduced by Councilmen-at-Large Bill Greenlee and Darrell Clarke in April and which would have required event promoters to receive approval by city police a month prior to each event.
The amended bill will now require promoters to register with the city for a fee of $40, but not to receive prior approval for each event.
Greenlee said that while the intent of the measure is the same as when he introduced it — ensuring that events are safe and disturbance-free — it needed to be amended in order to be effective.
“What we did is we narrowed the focus of it a little bit because we realized the original bill was probably casting too wide of a net and affecting people who didn’t need to be affected,” Greenlee said.
The bill now mandates that promoters complete a one-time registration form, which will be available online, detailing their contact information and business-privilege license number, and that permanent registrations will be issued by the Managing Director’s office.
The measure stipulates that venues with a special-assembly occupancy license — which the city already requires for restaurants, bars and other locales with a lawful occupancy of more than 50 people — must notify their local police department two weeks in advance of an event organized by an outside promoter.
On the notification form, which will be available online, the venue must include the promoter’s name and contact information, business-privilege license number, the lawful occupancy of the venue and the anticipated number of event guests. While the original bill would have required promoters to submit a security plan to police, the current measure allows for venues to state on their notification forms whether or not private security will be in place and, if so, to provide contact information for the individual in charge of security.
Although the legislation says police must be notified at least two weeks in advance, venues can submit the forms after that time if they can demonstrate “good cause” for the late notice.
Local out promoter Dan Contarino, who said he’s “pleased with the changes” to the bill, said one of his main points of contention with the original measure was that it would have given police the authority to cancel an event.
“It gave police control to cancel something even 10 days prior, when there’s already been a lot of investment, both financially and promotionally, which could have destroyed a promoter’s business,” Contarino said. “There are promoters out there that have done damage and that led to the creation of this bill to begin with and, unfortunately, this would have been a situation that would also hurt the more-established promoters.”
The bill amends the current law so that the promoter will also be held liable, alongside the special-assembly occupancy licensee, for any costs incurred by the dispatch of police or fire departments for any disturbances at the events.
During the committee hearing last week, only one promoter, Patrick Rodgers of Dancing Ferret Productions, testified, and he was in favor of the new bill.
“The bill was not so much changed as it was completely overhauled,” Rodgers said. “The initial draft, which did not have the benefit of input from those within the entertainment industry, was overly broad and would have had many unintended consequences.”
Greenlee said he worked closely with Rodgers and other promoters to amend the bill, and that his legislative director, Noelle Marconi, had at least 40 meetings with local promoters about the measure, which he said helped to turn the tide.
“If you’d told me even a few days before the hearing that we’d have no opposition at all at the hearing, I would have wondered what you were imbibing. At first, the blogs were pretty bad. But nobody appeared against it, and I really have to give credit to the promoters that we worked with for that.”
Rodgers anticipates the new measure will be 90-percent acceptable to 90 percent of the people it would affect.
“Promoters must now provide the city with their basic contact information, but the inconvenience of this one-time registration is not unreasonable given that public safety is an important element of our industry,” he said. “Promoters bring people, and thereby revenue, to the city. I was pleased with how consistently every branch of Philadelphia government recognized that fact and collaborated in removing the bill’s onerous requirements for bona-fide promoters while keeping the bill tough on those who produce unsafe events.”
Greenlee said the conversations he’s had with local promoters helped to educate him about the city’s nightlife environment.
“I kidded before that I’m not really on top of today’s music scene. I’m still a Motown guy who listens to The Temptations, so I have learned some stuff through this, too. As it was originally written, it was affecting a lot of people needlessly, but now it’s going to be able to capture the folks that we need to try to deal with who could be a potential problem.”