Friday, June 24, 2011

Package Liquor Sales

Reading over the ordinance that failed to get a second at last Tuesday's city council meeting, ti does appear to address most of the problems that have concerned the city regarding increasing the number of package liquor licenses.  Councilwoman Jane Adams comments here on her reasons for not seconding the motion and The Southern adds its editorial thoughts here.

I agree with both Adams and the Southern  More time needs to be devoted to addressing concerns that council members and other members of the community raised regarding the proposed ordinance.  The sustainability commission has worked on an ordinance allowing people to keep chickens within the city limits and for over six months and that still hasn't come up for a vote.  Changing the liquor ordinance only became an issue last year and, as near as I can tell, this ordinance has only been in development for about a month.  Liquor sales are certainly a much more important issue for the city to deal with than chickens are.

The current package liquor stores have enjoyed a city sanctioned oligopoly for at least two decades and that needs to change.  However, the current businesses have also been operating legally under that legal structure and contributing to the city's economy for that long as well.  Immediately changing the ordinance without giving them time to adjust to the new legal environment would put at least one of them out of business, as liquor sales in the city quickly becomes saturated with the addition of at least 5 new participants (along with every gas station in town) to the market.  Go back and do further revisions to the ordinance to address concerns about hours and ages.  The current eight holders of package liquor licenses will know that the change is coming and adjust their business models to adapt to it (or go out of business).

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