Residents have mixed reactions as council votes to reinstate ‘Beale Street Bucks’ cover charge

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - - There's controversy tonight over the city council's decision to reinstate Beale Street Bucks. Critics are questioning the fairness of charging people to use a public street.

Under the program, you will once again have to pay a cover charge on certain nights. The city council has yet to decide the dollar amount. It's been $10 and $5 in the past.

Leo Allred runs Tater Red's on Beale. He supports the program, which seeks to limit the number of people on the street.

"We're just looking for a nice, safe environment and that's what that provides," Allred says.

Supporters say less people means less chaos if something scary happens. For example, a shooting threat.

"When the street is kind of in an overload mode it can get a little scary at times," Allred says, "A lot of people, they want to get out of here in a panic."

The cover charge will only apply on nights when crowds are expected to exceed 10,000. The charge is one of many measures recommended by a private security firm the city hired this year.

Critics, like State Representative Raumesh Akbari, would like to see other options explored.

"It's a public street. It's for the people. At the end of the day, I would like that (cover charge) to be the last resort," Rep. Akbari says, "Perhaps more officers or maybe re-configuring how the officers are on the street."

"You have 6th Street in Austin. You have Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Busy streets, busier than Beale Street and they've been able to maintain public safety without charging a fee," Rep. Akbari says.

When the fee was $10, an $8 voucher was included. It's unclear if something like that will happen again.

The program will run until January. At that point, the city council will decide on whether or not to keep it going.