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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Governor favors giving municipalities the power to shut down some illegal businesses

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said Wednesday that he is inclined to introduce legislation that would allow municipalities to shut down certain businesses operating in an illegal manner without the need of a court order.

The issue has resurfaced after a double homicide occurred in the pre-dawn hours Saturday on Loíza Street in Santurce. Hours before the deaths of two young tourists from Peru, the police had entered an establishment that had been visited by the victims over violations of use permits. However, officials could not close the premises even though the business had violated the law before because they needed a court order.

“I think that we should evaluate the permit laws of Puerto Rico to give OGPe [the Permit Management Office] more tools at the central level of the autonomous municipalities to revoke permits when there are recurrences or infractions and violations of the law, as was apparently the case in the Loíza street bar,” Pierluisi said. “A court is now required to issue a cease and desist order. I think it is a bureaucratic process that delays, delays and sometimes you have to act urgently. The mayors of autonomous municipalities and OGPe should have the power, for example, to tell any business that has a permit to show cause why we should not revoke its permit because it has violated the laws on several occasions.”

The governor, who has defended the police’s patrolling efforts in the area but has also pointed out that misfortunes like Saturday’s cannot be prevented, indicated that he has discussed the issue with Planning Board Chairman Julio Lassús Ruiz, and with mayors such as Miguel Romero Lugo of San Juan, and that he contemplates introducing legislation.

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