Downtown lounge will end smoking, install ID scanners
LAFAYETTE — Karma Night Club & Lounge in downtown Lafayette finalized an agreement Monday with the state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control that calls for a long list of security improvements.
The agreement comes after ATC investigated allegations earlier this year of drug use, alcohol sales to minors and violence at the Jefferson Street club.
“We know it has been a thorn over there for some time,” ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert said.
The agreement announced Monday calls on Karma to install video surveillance cameras inside and outside of the club, to pick up trash around the club during and after events, to notify Lafayette police when large crowds are expected, and to staff 8 to 15 security guards per night, depending on the size of the expected crowd.
The agreement also calls on the nightclub to use ID scanners to better detect fake IDs, implement a “no smoking” policy on a trial basis and wind down music at 1:45 a.m. — 15 minutes before the 2 a.m. closing time.
Hebert said the “no smoking” policy could help address marijuana use, which is the main drug issue alleged at the club.
The club could face a revocation of its liquor license if improvements are not made, according to ATC.
“We will certainly continue to keep an eye on this place,” Hebert said.
Hebert said reaching an agreement with the club is preferable over moving forward with formal enforcement action because it allows ATC to address issues the agency has little legal authority to regulate, such as closing times and smoking policies.
“You can actually get more control over an establishment than the law actually allows,” Hebert said.
Hebert said the owners of Karma have been cooperating with ATC to craft the agreement.
An attorney for Karma did not return a call to his office Monday afternoon.
Karma is also among a group of downtown bars that filed a lawsuit challenging a downtown security fee the Lafayette City-Parish Parish Council approved in 2009 — an effort to force bars to share in the expense of special police details that keep weekend crowds along Jefferson Street in check.
The fee ranged from $150 to $5,000 a month per bar, depending on capacity, but the council voted last year to suspend the bar levy pending the outcome of the federal lawsuit.
Bar owners argue that the fee amounts to an unconstitutional tax imposed without their consent, and by the end of 2011, several of the bars had stopped paying it.
The lawsuit was filed in January 2012, a few weeks after city-parish officials moved for liquor license suspensions of up to a year against bars that were refusing to pay the fee.