Nashville is likely to see the same number of entertainment vehicles this year -- and possibly more -- despite attempts to limit permits.
The Transportation and Licensing Commission will renew the 87 existing permits for an additional year and consider new permit applications at its meeting on May 11.
The commission approved a motion that would limit future permits between 35 and70 permits. Metro Council must approve the motion.
Before this meeting, Nashville Department of Transportation proposed that the number of permit be reduced to forty to relieve traffic congestion.
Jim Schmitz, the co-organizer for Safe Fun Nashville, said in a press release that 'everyone who lives or works downtown is of one mind: party buses are killing downtown'. It's more than a problem, it's an emergency. If we do not enforce regulations and listen to the recommendations of our mayor and leaders in the city to crackdown on these vehicles then very soon, no locals will want to spend time downtown.
During the meeting, organizations such as the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. and The Greater Hospitality Association, along with downtown residents, urged for a reduction of the number of vehicles, and the enforcement of guidelines.
We are focusing on the number of permits as that which has the greatest impact. Eighty-nine, or even 87, is too many. Nobody wants to cause undue hardship for any businesses, but I respectfully remind you that this issue is about balancing the competing uses of the public realm. We're talking about the distress felt by a handful of businesses. But that is competing with the distress of the 16,000 downtown employees and residents, as well as the 16,000 residents.
Owners of sightseeing buses and other entertainment vehicles spoke to the board, stating that they adhered to existing regulations.
Chaz Barker is the owner of Rowdy Bus. He said: 'I would only like to continue growing my business in the same way that I started. I promise to use common sense and respect for our community to do this.
Brady Cannon is the public affairs manager for the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. He asked the commission not to approve any more permits than those already in operation and to consider a temporary ban on the operation of entertainment vehicles while the Department of Transportation works on the Broadway Bridge.
Cannon said, 'As the leading advocate of Nashville's tourism and hospitality industry we still feel the disruptions and the potential threats to further degrade the city's image are still present'. We have yet to see how the rules will affect ETVs and improve the downtown area when they are properly enforced. This is especially true during the height of summer. We have sent letters to the commission in the past from clients who expressed their concern about the chaotic atmosphere of downtown.
Over the last year, there has been an increasing focus on Downtown Nashville's safety as well as how to manage Lower Broadway’s non-stop party.
Benton McDonough was named by Mayor John Cooper as the director of nightlife. He will act as a liaison for nightlife businesses and Metro.
Colin Reed, Ryman Hospitality Properties, and Butch Spyridon, Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp, are leading a committee to develop a strategic plan that will address issues like safety, cleanliness, and homelessness.
Recently, the Broadway Entertainment Association was created as a group of Lower Broadway honky tonk owners. This association gives these business owners a voice.
Music City will continue to discuss the balance between the $8.8 billion dollar tourism industry of Nashville and the needs for business and residents as both grow in the next few years.