The Wichita City Council has given unanimous approval to changes in a city ordinance that requires after-hours clubs to have a license to operate.
The ordinance was enacted in 2018 to deal with violence at unlicensed clubs that operate between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. The ordinance was challenged and the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional in part because it applied to private homes.
Jan Jarman with the city’s legal department said there has been a recent increase in incidents involving after-hours clubs, so the Police Department asked for changes to be made. The ordinance will remove private homes and it will focus on occupancy classification. It applies to buildings classified as Assembly, Business, Educational, Factory, High Hazard, Mercantile and Storage. Jarman says after hours clubs have been set up in all types of buildings, and if a club is unlicensed, officials cannot go in for inspections. She said the ordinance will ensure that a club is following safety rules and is operating in a safe manner.
Under the ordinance, a person could be criminally charged for a single unlicensed event or series of events.
The ordinance is expected to be a tool for the Wichita Police Department to reduce violence in clubs. The ordinance will not apply to churches and it will not apply to clubs that are already licensed through the city and state to sell alcohol and operate as a club.