Monday, November 20

Beer Sales Issue Needs More Attention

As I have discussed before (here and here), there is a public vagrancy problem in Great Falls that need attention. However, I think I have been too hasty in supporting a proposed measure to ban convenience stores from selling single cans of beer.

The more I read and discuss about this issue, the more unworkable this ban seems to be. Most problematic is the definition of a single can of beer; is a 24 oz. bottle to be banned? It is very difficult to construct an ordinance that narrowly does what is necessary here without raising additional questions.

In addition, such an ordinance would also inappropriately affect merchants, like Vintage Sellers on the West side of town, that import high-end beer that is only available by the single bottle. I have no desire to impact that business in any way.

However, I think it a mistake to throw out the baby with the bath-water. We still have vagrancy, public drunkenness, and public nuisance problems in our downtown. Many of those problems could be solved by restricting access to single cans of been.

So how do we do it? How do we write an ordinance that works to clean up our downtown without painting with too broad a brush?

I suggest that the ordinance be amended, to state that the total transaction for any sale involving carry out alcohol must total at least $3. The effect is the same (it is still more difficult to panhandle that much) and one can still buy a can of Bud at the M&H. However, you will have to buy some chips and maybe a sandwich with your brew.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Thank for the suggestion to shop at Vintage Sellers!

a-fire-fly said...

Interesting. You start the post by stating downtown has a public vagrancy problem. You question how to clean up downtown with out painting with too broad a brush.
Yet this ordinance will do nothing to stop the vagrancy problem itself, and the brush you are advocating will sweep across the whole town and include many many people and businesses that have nothing to do with vagrancy, or downtown.
I am glad you do not want to affect Vintage Sellers, but I dislike that you feel you have a right to pick and choose what stores should be affected simply because of the quality of their beverages.
You $3.00 minimum will cover purchasing not one, but two cans of Steel Reserve, and $3.00 panhandeling is not that much.

Have you or the city considered targeting the actual problem here?
A can of beer is not scrawling graffitti on the wall. Or peeing in the alley, or sleeping on the park bench. I have never had a can of beer ask for my spare change.
You are attempting to inact an ordinance to clean up downtown. Perhaps if you pursued something that would affect the actual problem, not the beer, but the people drinking the beer, you would have more support.

Despite my negativity on this issue, I do appreciate that you are trying to do something to improve a problem you have in your area.