NEW ORLEANS, La. - An ordinance is in the works, that if passed, would require all alcoholic beverage outlets follow certain guidelines, including add a city-approved surveillance system. A public meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, however, the city says it's now postponed.
The city was unavailable for an on-camera interview on Tuesday, but said over the phone details regarding the ordinance are still being discussed, and because of that, the public meeting and vote (planned for Thursday) will have to be rescheduled.
There's uproar among business owners around New Orleans over the possibility of a new city ordinance.
"I think this is an invasion of privacy for New Orleans citizens," said Catherine Markel, the owner of Faubourg Wines.
"It creates a lot of vulnerability for a business owner, a lot of uncertainty," said managing partner at Junction, Lloyd Miller.
The initial 22-page document focuses on any place that sells alcohol within city limits. It outlines requirements, that if passed, the outlet's owner would have to follow, including how they'd apply for a permit and the grounds for taking one away. Miller says that's a concern.
"Anyone in a half-mile radius would be able to make a complaint based on anything and if you get five of those, either you get fined, or you lose your ABO, or you may be lucky enough to get additional cameras put inside," said Miller.
However, a small paragraph on page 15, mandating "outlets install city approved video security camera systems outside the premises," doesn't sit well with Markel.
"I don't think most people in New Orleans would want to be videotaped every time they go to a bar or store that sells alcohol," she said.
Miller says it'd feel like a 'Big Brother' type surveillance system, which he feels, would violate peoples' rights.
"I personally don't care to have every one of my patrons recorded and made visible to the local city government, to NOPD, to the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security," he said. "I mean it really sounds completely insane."
With Wednesday's meeting canceled, those upset by the ordinance must now wait to share their thoughts with the city. Miller and Markel say when that time comes, they hope council members will listen.
"Asking us to take on this extra expense is unfair," said Markel. "Asking ABO holders to foot the bill for surveillance is outrageous."
The city says they've spoke with business leaders and representatives around town and have listened to what they have to say about the initial ordinance. They also add the goal of it is to help increase public safety. No word yet on when the public meeting and vote will be rescheduled.
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