Atlanta, GA

Atlanta's Mayor launches new city codes to hold property owners accountable for crimes

Sophie-Ann McCulloch

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Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has launched phase two of her administration's crackdown on the property owners and managers in the city to hold them accountable for conditions that contribute to violent crime and conduct.

The legislation creates a new section within the Nuisances article that permits the city to declare properties contributing to the acts of violent conduct or crime a 'public nuisance'.

The city government will send a notice of documented reports of violent conduct or crime occurring on the property to its owner, and if the owner fails to abate the situation, the administration will take action and the Municipal Court may assess the owner for costs.

At the same time, the legislation empowers the town to suspend or revoke a business’ alcohol license for violations of the new nuisance section of the City Code.

The legislation was sponsored by District 2 Councilmember Amir Farokhi before it was eventually passed by the City Council. "This legislation gives us a new tool to fight crime and improve the quality of life for all Atlantans. A vibrant nightlife is a feature of any great city,” said Farokhi.

He added: “But it shouldn’t come at the cost of our safety. Where we see repeated incidents of violence at specific establishments, we must act. Through this bill, we can swiftly revoke liquor licenses and effectively shut down businesses that aren’t operating peacefully.”

Phase one of the Mayor's actions — adopted earlier this year — focused on verifying that businesses licensed as restaurants are genuinely operating as restaurants and not bars or clubs. These businesses must submit a press release from an authorized public accountant that the entity derives at least 50 percent of its gross food and beverage sales from prepared meals. The code allows the city to revoke a restaurant's liquor license upon first violation.

“Strengthening the City’s laws on nuisance properties gives us the ability to address businesses involved in continued violent crime incidents," said Mayor Bottoms.

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