Wednesday, December 03, 2008

How is allowing after hours clubs even remotely "thinking outside the box"?

In an attempt to suggest ways that Metro can raise revenues "outside the box," Sean Braisted blogs:
Other ways you can increase (or stop the decrease) in sales and property taxes? For starters, not closing down after hours clubs would help.
After hours clubs have been around for a long time and have been constant money makers for youth gangs and hookers. Their presence is conventional, not outside-the-box. Regulating them in the name of public health and safety is actually the outside-the-box response under the current conditions.

Sean's arguments about taxes are full of holes. First of all, I assume that the sales taxes that he is referring to are those on the BYOB alcohol. Sales taxes are regressive and take more away from common people than they bestow in the form of municipal services. Sales taxes are not even a zero sum game for people of modest income. Moreover, because sales taxes assume economic prosperity, in a recession, sales taxes slump with sales.

And the appeal to property taxes is short-sighted. By bringing crime, sometimes violent crime, into residential areas, after-hours clubs run the risk of depressing property values, which in turn lowers property tax takes in those neighborhoods. It would be great to see a study of the trends of property values in neighborhoods with after hours clubs. But short of having one available, it is only common sense to assume that when families with children move out of a neighborhood--perhaps selling their home for less to move quickly--because every Saturday and Sunday morning they find used condoms littering their yard or because they are tired of ducking hails of gang-related gunfire, local property values will drop.

After hours proponents never bother to cite evidence that after hours clubs actually add value to their communities. Hell, it would be nice if they would make the slightest effort to demonstrate even the slightest benefit for those who have to live around after hours clubs. Instead, they simply assume that more taxes will flow into local coffers (not necessarily the case), and that more revenue is a benefit that trumps all other benefits.

On the one hand, I have yet to meet an after hours proponent who actually lives next to an after hours club or who would raise their kids in the vicinity of nests of villainy. On the other hand, I have yet to see support for after hours clubs from the neighbors of after hours clubs. So, let me suggest that those who advocate for after clubs should also take the initiative and either willingly live close to one or fight for a non-residential zoning for after hours clubs (good luck with the property taxes from those clusters). Above all, it is bad form to defend the rights of after hours clubs owners without stipulating their responsibility to their adjoining communities or without trying to leverage a comprehensive and coordinated effort from the Mayor's office to sift out the criminal element endemic to after hours clubs.


  1. If you take a look at the state's revenue numbers and their own account of the number in the workforce, the average Tennessee worker pays $2,300 a year in sales taxes alone. A family of just 2 workers = $4,600 PER YEAR. That disproportionately affects the middle class and poor. Reducing the sales tax just 3 percentage points would reduce those taxes over $600 per year per worker. Instituting an income tax could further reduce taxes for a majority of Tennesseans while shifting the burdern back onto the wealthiest 5%. Then we can stop relying so heavily on our Republican congressional delegation in Washington taking wealth from other states and redistributing it to TN to the tune of $1.27 for every $1 we contribute in federal taxes. That would help states like California, who face an $11 billion deficit so Lamar Alexander an keep Tennessee dependent on the welfare of states that can no longer pay our way through our failed tax policy and continued conservative fiscal policy pipedreams burried in debt.

  2. It is not illegal to be out after 3. It is not illegal to drink. We claim we want to be a 24-7 city, but we want to regulate when our neighbors can socialize. The problem is not the hours the clubs are open, the problem is the lack of regulation and enforcement, to include the lack of control on their location. The solution? Make them all bars and regulate them as such. No more byob; make them get liquor and beer licenses. They become violent nests or abuse their neighbors, they lose their licenses.

  3. oh, and do away with the hypocritical 3 am closing time for all bars.

  4. But let's not reduce regulation and enforcement strictly to the police department. According to CM Anna Page and affected neighbors, the cops have been responsive and have filed reports. After hours proponents incessantly make a nebulous appeal to enforcement without attempting to help neighbors get more response from the Mayor's office and non-police departments. Meanwhile, the neighborhoods are doing what they must do: going to the council member and seeking a remedy. Why blame them for that? If proponents don't like the terms of the regulation, then they need to find some common ground with residents and help them work towards solutions.

    And it's going to take more than the chance to chug a beer at 4:30 in the morning alongside a couple of gang-bangers for Nashville to become a 24-7 city. Why does this preoccupation for being hip forever cause us to set the bar so low? Because one is not prone to demand much on a good beer buzz?