City of Savannah approves contract to develop citywide nighttime management plan

In a city widely known for its nightlife and relaxed open container laws, much of Savannah’s livelihood happens after 5 p.m.

On Thursday, the Savannah City Council approved a $80,000 contract to explore the implementation of a city-wide night management program.

Responsible host institute (RHI) will lead the assessment to develop a plan to address nighttime issues such as public safety, transportation, tourism, noise, and alcohol control while improving the growth and vibrancy of Savannah’s nocturnal economy.

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“We know we have a pretty robust nighttime economy and nighttime activity in the city of Savannah. It is this council that is responsible for better mastering our night economy and our night activities and management. This assessment is part of that,” Savannah City Manager Jay Melder told the board Thursday.

The RHI was founded in 1983 as a global advocate for the promotion of responsible beverage service training and policy, but now serves as a source of information on economic management trends and strategies. night in North America. More than 80 cities across the country have received assistance from RHI.

After:One person was killed in two unrelated shootings in downtown Savannah on Sunday

While the contract was included in the city’s fiscal year 2022 budget, Thursday’s vote follows a series of shootings in the heart of downtown Savannah in recent weeks.

Early Sunday morning, Savannah police responded to a shooting in the 100 block of W. Congress Street. Less than two hours before officers responded to a shooting a few blocks from 502 Bay Street West, who killed Benjamin Tucker, 27, a British national on vacation in Savannah to visit family. Police said the shootings were unrelated.

Alderman Alicia Miller Blakely expressed a desire to ensure the program extends to all areas of the city.

“I just want to make sure it’s going to be fair, not just for downtown, not just for (the Starland neighborhood), but for the city as a whole,” she said.

“We have young African American men dying daily at an alarming rate on our streets. A tourist lost his life downtown and that’s when I started hearing about this kind things.”

According to the RHI website, there are four building blocks necessary to build the program of a city: foundation, planning, security and dynamism.

The four areas include an alliance of stakeholders dedicated to night governance, tackling noise, transport, waste and other quality of life issues, identifying at-risk sites, venues and creating a variety of social experiences in bars, restaurants, cafes and live music venues.

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“As the city manager indicated, this is sort of the leading organization in the world in developing these types of programs. And they come and they’ve asked us to bring to the table stakeholders across the city and these stakeholders are forming the conversation,” said Susan Broker, Director, Special Events Film & Tourism.

The broker said business owners and residents will be included as stakeholders.

“I’ve been with City for 25 years and what excites me the most about this contract is that it has worked in other areas and the reason it has worked is that everyone has a place to play. the table,” she said.

“A bar owner has a very different perspective than a restaurant owner, resident, senior resident, young resident, short-term holiday operator, operator arena, so that’s our job, and you’ve got me and our contract is responsible for making sure those people are at that table.

The Board unanimously approved the contract after approximately half an hour of discussion. The complete development of the plan could take up to 12 months.

RHI in other cities

While it’s unclear what the Savannah program will look like, the city of St. Augustine, Florida began working with RHI last year to explore an order this would require business owners to obtain a license to sell alcohol after midnight.

The RHI has concluded stakeholder meetings and community outreach for downtown St. Augustine and is compiling the results to provide an assessment to be presented at an upcoming city commission meeting, according to a spokesperson. city ​​word.

Police transport a woman from the scene of a Saturday, June 12, 2021, shooting on East Sixth Street in downtown Austin that killed one person and injured 13 others.

Also in March, the city of Austin, Texas approved several programs derived from RHI’s suggestions to create a safer environment in the Sixth Street entertainment district.

A series of shootings, including a mass shootingwhich left 13 injured and one dead in June 2021, prompted the council to adopt a safety plan for the neighborhood. .

The programs cover the closure of certain areas to allow small-scale seating, dining and activations, lighting studies, provision of entertainment permits and encouraging bar owners to have written safety plans, a training for gate staff, codes of conduct and increased communication with the police department.

Katie Nussbaum is the city and county government reporter for the Savannah Morning News. Contact her at [email protected] Twitter: KnussSMN

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