Wichita City Council fine tunes licensing ordinance for illegal after-hours night clubs
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - Since 2018 violent acts at what are called illegal after-hours night clubs have been a safety problem, which is why the Wichita City Council is voting to amend its after hours licensing ordinance after the Kansas Supreme Court ruled it as unconstitutional.
Late last month, a shooting happened at one of these illegal clubs on East Pawnee. Video shows a man in a grey hoodie firing shot after shot as people nearby scattered for safety. Events like this are why the city council is revisiting this ordinance and making amends so it can be enforced again.
"They're not following our licensing ordinances, they're not following our liquor laws," says city council member Jeff Blubaugh.
The city council is changing this ordinance, because it originally applied to any business that regularly holds parties, which the state Supreme Court says is too broad and therefore unconstitutional.
"We've just gotta fine tune this. The original ordinance was too broad of a brush. It included too much. And now we gotta go back and make sure we're addressing the real issue," says Blubaugh.
He said the real issue is commercial buildings that are illegally setting up and operating nightclubs. These are clubs that are open after all the licensed clubs in the city close. These are typically operated by word of mouth which means the city doesn't even know about them until something happens and police have to interfere.
These kinds of clubs have been an issue since 2018, but with the state supreme court ruling the current ordinance as too broad, not much can currently be done. However, by making the ordinance more specific it hopes to be able to stop these violent incidents and illegally run clubs.
"Our goal is to make sure that we find a way to get those license, get those addressed so we can do better to keep folks who want to go out and have a good time safe," says council member Brandon Johnson.
The new amendments will exempt churches and residential areas from having to pay for the license as well as reducing the fee from 400 dollars to 250.
If individuals are allowed in the building between midnight and 6:00 a.m. then any event with an occupancy classification of assembly, business, educational, factor, high hazard, mercantile, or storage will need to follow the license requirement assuming it doesn't already have another type of license.