MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - City leaders met with a group of local business workers and owners to discuss the regulation of promoters ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.
Since violence erupted during Memorial Day weekend in 2014, resulting in eight shootings and three deaths, making sure it never happens again has become a top priority for the city of Myrtle Beach.
The city has passed a new ordinance calling for all promoters to obtain a business license with the city and submit a safety plan to the police department.
Myrtle Beach City Attorney Thomas Ellenburg led the discussion to explain why the city is calling for the regulation of promoters. First, he talked numbers, telling business owners while more than 250 businesses sell alcohol and only a handful have reoccurring issues, that handful is still a very large problem.
Since taking measures to trace the violence back to where it starts, city leaders found nearly all of the promoters in town for past Memorial Day weekends have had little to no sense of controlling crowds or maintaining safety and didn't have a business license with the city.
"What we found was that a lot of the flare ups of violence, the drugs and the bad stuff was happening because of promoters. Unregulated promoters, it is true that we are trying to get a handle on that," Ellenburg said.
He further explained if someone hires and pays an individual to assume some control of their business, in the city's eyes, that person is changing their business plan and could be held accountable for anything that may happen.
Ellenburg also stressed the point that customers who feel safe are the ones who come back.
"If you get a reputation of being a blood bath, or a fight club, you're not going to make as much money as you will if you have a reputation of being a place where people can have a good time and go home at night, and not in a squad car or a body bag," Ellenburg said.
Ellenburg said the city is taking note of which businesses have the most issues.
"If the police come to an event where the person does not have a business license or where there is no safety plan, they do have the ability to close that business for 24 hours," he explained.
He said it could be worse, and a business license could be revoked if the promoter hired doesn't meet the new standards.
Some businessmen were in favor of the new ordinance.
"We're here year round and we want to make sure we have a good working relationship with law enforcement as well as the city. And then you have certain people that come in during certain events and they tarnish the way things are promoted. This way you have accountability and that way you have something in front and behind you," said James Moore, with the Master's Gentlemen's Club.
Others are not fans of some of the restrictions that come with hiring a promoter, especially the 2 a.m. curfew.
"Our problem is that a lot of that late-night crowd, being brought in by promoters are not people from this community and not necessarily visitors. They are being regionally drawn," Ellenburg responded.
He went on to say most of the issues are happening after hours and those in the room agreed that safety should be a top priority.
"If this is all aimed at Memorial Day weekend, anything that makes that a safer weekend is a win-win for everybody," Moore said.
City leaders said this is a year-round ordinance and recommended all business owners take responsibility for promoters by telling them about the new ordinance.
They also recommend applying for a business license and submitting a safety plan sooner rather than later.