County Council Approves Late Night Business Safety Plan Bill

by Patrick Herron

Per Montgomery County: Following a full Council worksession yesterday, the Council approved Bill 14-23, Late Night Business Safety Plan, introduced by County Executive Marc Elrich. Following the public hearing on this bill, amendments were presented by Government Operations and Fiscal Policy (GO) Chair Councilmember Kate Stewart, Public Safety (PS) Chair Councilmember Sidney Katz, and Council President Evan Glass that incorporated ideas put forward by community members.
“I greatly appreciate the partnership with the Council to pass this important public safety legislation,” said County Executive Elrich. “I also appreciate the public engagement followed by collaboration between my team and the Council that resulted in a measure that will help make our community safer. This is but one step to address the increase in crime we have seen across our country and region, but will ensure a coordinated effort between the County and its businesses in promoting a safe and vibrant nightlife.”

“The Late Night Safety Bill ensures that our restaurants and night life are safe and enjoyable for patrons and neighbors,” said Council President Glass. “This legislation keeps our businesses in direct communication with county government so that we have a comprehensive strategy that promotes safety and strengthens our night time economy.”

“This legislation truly represents a collaborative effort on the executive and legislative side, incorporating public input in addressing public safety challenges related to our businesses open late at night,” said PS Chair Katz. “The safety plans along with the grant funding for facility enhancements ensure our late night businesses have the resources needed to allow for a safe and fun environment for their patrons.”

“Addressing the issues we are facing in our urban areas requires everyone to take part in solutions. We need to act in the short term to solve crimes as our police department has been doing, as well as set up systems that can help prevent crime,” said GO Chair Stewart. “The Late Night Business Safety Plan Act is an excellent step in bringing our community together to prevent incidents and make our communities safe to work, live and play.”

As amended, the legislation applies Countywide to businesses that provide on-site consumption of tobacco, food, alcohol or cannabis, and either: operate between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.; or operate between midnight and 2 a.m., and have been the subject of two or more service calls for law enforcement to respond to serious incidents during the prior 12 months. The serious incidents would include crimes identified in Executive regulations being developed by the Executive branch.

As part of these regulations, a template will be created for businesses to write and submit a late night business safety plan. The regulations will be developed within six months of the bill becoming law, and businesses will have until 90 days after the regulations to submit their plans to the County Executive or the County Executive’s designee. The submitted late night safety plans will be effective for three years.

The plan will require an emergency evacuation plan, 24-hour contact information of the business owner or manager, exterior bathroom doors that are can be open at all times, if the bathroom facilities use bathroom stalls, an acknowledgement that the business has received late night business training from the County, an acknowledgement that the business is in compliance with the law, and a statement regarding any resolved or pending citations issues by a government entity within the prior three years.

The plan may require security personnel and security training, exterior lighting and high-definition security cameras that provide monitoring and recording. These recommendations will be developed in collaboration with multiple county departments consistent with Executive regulations. Grant funding will be available for businesses to use in these security facility enhancements.

A reporting requirement is also part of Bill 14-23 – the Council will review crime data in areas with late night businesses and study the impact of the safety plans before and a year after their approval.

The bill will become effective once it is signed into law by the County Executive. More information on the bill can be found in the Council’s staff packet for today’s worksession here.

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