Businesses Dispute FL City’s Drinking Crackdown After Violence


Officials in Panama City Beach, Fl. are cracking down on raucous spring-break festivities after shootings at a house party last weekend left seven people wounded and prompted residents to complain that the annual revelry is out of control, the Wall Street Journal reports. The violence galvanized residents who say that the carousing, which draws more than 300,000 college students and others over a six-week period each year, is increasingly accompanied by rampant drug use, fights, and firearms. “Our city is truly under siege,” said Keith Curry, a City Council member who voted in favor of several emergency ordinances aimed at reining in the revelry. One of them bans drinking on the beach and in parking lots for the remainder of the spring-break season.

Some business owners who say the city and surrounding Bay County are overreacting and risk damaging the city's critical tourism industry by driving away young vacationers. Though police say gun violence is rare at spring-break destinations, the dispute highlights a familiar tension in such cities, as residents and officials wrestle with whether the economic benefits of receiving hordes of partygoers are worth the law-enforcement headaches and potential public-relations nightmares. Other destinations have seen binge-drinking deaths, rapes and fatal car accidents from the college crowds over the years.

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