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West Palm takes preliminary vote to make curfew permanent downtown


Highlights

With curfew pilot program expiring, city moves to make it permanent

West Palm Beach commissioners moved Monday to make permanent the city’s tightened downtown curfew for anyone under 18, to keep a lid on crime in the commercial district.

If Monday’s initial vote gets final approval March 27, anyone under 18 will be persona non grata downtown from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., unless accompanied by a parent or going to or from work.

The curfew applies to the area from Okeechobee to Banyan Boulevard and from Flagler Drive to Tamarind Avenue. It includes Clematis Street and CityPlace.

The city commission voted unanimously in October to drop the regular curfew to 10 p.m. seven days a week rather than 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, as a pilot program for three months.

Police statistics showed a 79 percent drop in crime during those three months, compared to the same period a year earlier, Assistant Police Chief Tony Spatara told the commission Monday.

Raphael Clemente, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, said his board approves the measure, as it had previous moves to extend downtown curfews.

The city hadn’t had problems with teens but the change would benefit everyone, City Administrator Jeff Green said previously.

The measure passed unanimously, without discussion.

Mayor Jeri Muoio has tinkered with the curfew in the past, including a recent Moonfest executive order banning anyone under 18 years of age from downtown from 9 p.m. Saturday until 6 a.m. Sunday.

The city also had a 10 p.m. curfew for CityPlace and the rest of downtown for Labor Day weekend. That decision came in the wake of reports of gunshots at CityPlace and on Clematis Street that created chaos.

Green said the city has been trying to strike a balance between the needs of downtown bar and restaurant owners and residents and decided to try a consistent curfew rather than different hours on different nights.

“We have a lot of teenagers downtown on weekends,” he said. “We’re trying to balance out everybody’s ability to enjoy the downtown.”



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