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We could have another Heights alcohol vote

Sure, why not?

Heights voters last fall lifted a 105-year-old ban on the sale of beer and wine at grocery stores, but customers still must join a private club if they want to drink alcohol at area restaurants or bars. That means submitting a drivers license for entry into a club database.

The Houston Heights Restaurant Coalition petition would lift that requirement, leaving the historically dry portion of the Heights nearly wet. Liquor sales at grocery and convenience stores still would be banned.

“While we were doing (the petition) last year, a couple of restaurants came around and said, ‘Hey, we’re here too,'” said Bryan Poff, a project manager for Austin-based Texas Petition Strategies, which is managing the petition drive. “As soon as they saw how much support beer and wine got … that was all they needed.”

[…]

Morgan Weber, co-owner of Coltivare and Eight Row Flint, said allowing restaurants and bars to sell alcohol more freely would improve the customer experience and help streamline operations.

“It’s not ideal from our perspective, because instead of really being able to make a great first impression … the first thing out of our mouth when you order alcohol is that we need to see your drivers license,” Weber said. “It’s right out of the gate kind of negative.”

Weber also pointed to Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission rules that require restaurants and bars looking to sell alcohol in dry parts of the Heights to establish a separate non-profit or association to receive the proceeds of alcohol sales and pay for the private club’s operation.

See here for coverage of last year’s effort. I supported that effort (though I couldn’t vote for it, as I don’t live in that part of the Heights), as I generally support efforts to undo dry restrictions. This particular restriction is kind of silly – as noted in the story, restaurants can sell booze, they just have to collect your name and drivers license info for their “private club” to do it. I’m sure there will be opposition to this – I knew plenty of people who were against last year’s referendum, and I doubt they’ll be any happier with this one – though Bill Baldwin won’t be leading it. My early guess is that it will succeed if it gets to a vote, but we’ll see. Swamplot and Eater Houston have more.

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9 Comments

  1. C.L. says:

    “…the first thing out of our mouth when you order alcohol is that we need to see your drivers license,” Weber said. β€œIt’s right out of the gate kind of negative.””

    … Wha ? You asking to see my drivers license [for whatever reason] when I’ve decided to have a cocktail with dinner is viewed as a negative thing ? By who ?

  2. Diana van Ek says:

    Nope, sorry Morgan Weber, et al, you knew what the rules were when you opened in the dry zone. Why are we changing the rules for your convenience? Once those rules are gone, they will never come back. IMO, the explosion of growth in the Heights is somewhat tempered by the “private club” requirement for those establishments that want to sell cocktails. If businesses want to freely head to the Heights, they can go to Shepherd, Durham or anywhere that is not in the dry zone. I don’t believe we should be changing our hundred year old law for their convenience (or a big corporation like HEB’s convenience, but that train has left the station)

  3. Jason Hochman says:

    The restaurants push these votes and Texas Petition Strategies spends a lot of effort trying to get the result that the restaurants pay for. I wrote to Texas Petition Strategies, because they make these changes in your neighborhood, but they live some place else. I emailed TPS, and they will send me some information later this week. I fail to see why people need alcohol every time they go to a restaurant, and, let’s not kid ourselves that they are walking to the restaurants. However the dry law won’t help to curtail Houston’s drunk driving problem. About two times per month, a car comes southbound on Durham and crashes on the curve between W. 17th and W. 16th. I would like to see the legal limit for BAC reduced to 0.02 or at least 0.05 (as it is in most of Europe), but of course my state representative is awful, and wouldn’t consider anything like that, she is busy with SB4260, The Man’s Right to Know and other frivolous nonsense.

  4. Ross says:

    So, Diana, are you opposed to the entities you mention trying to get the dry zone repealed? They do have the right to do that. And face it, the Heights ain’t that special. Other parts of town don’t seem to have any issues with restaurants being able to serve alcohol.

    @Jason, lowering the BAC will have little impact on drunk driving. Those levels are arbitrary, and don’t reflect the fact that one person might be impaired at .02 while another is impaired at .1. Can I assume you are also in favor of the police setting up barricades and stopping all drivers for testing, just in case one of them is impaired? Perhaps having police sit outside bars and arrest everyone who walks out for public intoxication? How about just banning the sale of alcohol completely, and executing anyone rash enough to consume the evil liquid?

  5. Diana van Ek says:

    @Ross, I am opposed to businesses moving in to areas with laws in place and then hiring out of area companies to create petitions to change the laws. The fact this is related to alcohol is secondary.

  6. Diana van Ek says:

    @Ross, Yes, I am opposed to businesses moving in to areas with laws in place and then hiring out of area companies to create petitions to change the laws. The fact this is related to alcohol is secondary.

  7. Bill Daniels says:

    @Ross:

    Kudos, I couldn’t agree more.

    @Diana:

    I see commenters here all the time complaining about the Hotze style religious right trying to enforce its will on Texas. Blue Laws are just that…..trying to enforce morality at the gunpoint of the government. What’s the difference between this prohibition and the laws being passed to harass abortion providers and potential customers? Do you feel this strongly about car dealers not being able to open up on Sundays? Why or why not?

  8. Bill Daniels says:

    @C.L.:

    Being asked for a DL is discriminatory against undocumented immigrants who don’t have a DL or state ID card. I mean, if it’s wrong to require a DL to vote, why would it be OK to require a DL to drink?

  9. Diana van Ek says:

    @Bill- Why would a bar/restaurant open its doors within the dry zone to begin with? They knew what they were undertaking. (and in the specific case of 8 Row Flint, they don’t even have adequate parking and currently use the post office parking. Talk about poor planning.)

    To answer your specific question about car dealerships, yes, I think that is a silly law, but two things come to mind: if it is a huge loss for the car dealerships, why aren’t they fighting the law (maybe they are?)? And for the once every +/-5 years that I visit a car lot, it hasn’t been a problem for me. (To compare this to abortion restrictions is comparing apples and oranges.)

    I’ve lived in the dry zone of the Heights for 18 years and never had a problem obtaining alcohol. What I do see as a problem is the rapid influx of restaurants and bars and the increased problem with traffic and parking. I see the dry zone as a way of keeping our neighborhood streets less congested. I think it is exciting to see the development along Shepherd and Durham. Those streets can handle the traffic!