OUR VIEW: City Council grants too much weight to words of few citizensAlcohol can’t be consumed on sidewalks outside of restaurants, the City Council has declared. In the end, we shrug and figure this isn’t a hill worth fighting for. To use another cliché, there are bigger fish to fry.
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
Alcohol can’t be consumed on sidewalks outside of restaurants, the City Council has declared.
In the end, we shrug and figure this isn’t a hill worth fighting for. To use another cliché, there are bigger fish to fry.
Yet it doesn’t mean we weren’t scratching our heads after the council killed the proposal Monday night.
To review, the proposal before the City Council was this: Adopt proposed Ordinance 2397, which would have authorized the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages on sidewalks or walkways downtown. The rule only would apply to restaurants.
The proposal was borne out of a request by a local coffee shop to allow patrons to sip wine at bistro-like tables lined up along the sidewalk outside of the shop.
Although council members generally approved of the proposal during its first reading last month, the council reversed course and voted 7-1 against it during Monday’s meeting.
Impassioned testimony from residents probably had a lot to do with it. A handful of people, including two local pastors, spoke against the ordinance Monday night.
And oddly, at least three people referenced last month’s tragic accident in which a local girl was killed by an allegedly drunken driver. As much as we wish the mishap never occurred, we just don’t see the connection between that crash and the possibility of being able to enjoy a glass of wine outside a coffee shop. We commend the people for having the guts to testify, but we just don’t get the connection.
Nor do we feel those few who testified necessarily represent the voice of the people. They just happened to be the only ones who decided to speak out; those in favor possibly opted to stay home, assuming the ordinance would pass easily after the council breezed through the first reading of it at a previous meeting.
Had the council made this decision after more investigation and thorough evaluation, we would better appreciate it. We know many towns in America allow alcohol outside of restaurants; have those towns experienced trouble? It didn’t appear the council was very educated about that.
We feel the council was swayed by the emotion and passion of a few people on this one. That’s good for those who attended and made their opinions known, but it’s not necessarily good for a council that should make its decisions based on more than just a small number of impassioned speeches from one side of an issue.