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Nora

Thanks Benn - it is completely silly to target these businesses and adversely affects neighbors in a whole other way, by removing a lit and populated area in an otherwise lonely mid-street or corner for walking. There are a lot of dog-walkers and runners (and yes, even children who can use a Safe Space to run to if someone comes a-creeping along their walk home) who appreciate the folks who are coming and going to these businesses. Although we could do without the inconsiderate corner-clogging parkers at the stop sign at Evans Chapel!

dsmeek

Well, to play Devil's Advocate, I suppose, what about the statistics from Hopkins that link alcohol and crime. What do we do with that? And what about the "food deserts", the term I'm hearing more and more? Yes, in poor neighborhoods you have a liquor store on every corner, but you can't get a banana or an apple. The little food shops are disappearing left and right, but you can get a bottle of vodka without walking two blocks in any direction. And what about those liquor stores that don't comply with the law now?

None of these questions were addressed at all in this blog. Seems to me that it's only responsible to address the concerns of the city/community, not just the concerns of the businesses, and come up with solutions.

As for the few suggestions you posted at the end, I know Fells Prospect neighborhood association has been pushing against the 3am liquor license proposal for months because not everyone in the neighborhood likes loud drunks standing within earshot of their homes all night. Otherwise, I see no reason not to have wine and beer in supermarkets, but that's also going to be a huge blow to locally owned shops, and we can't have it both ways. As for liquor stores being open on Sunday, I'll pray we get to that point; it's a silly Bible Belt law we don't need.

Benn

Scott - in response to your advocacy of the devil:

1. About the Hopkins study - yes. It's interesting and should spark a larger conversation about crime in the city. It's not surprising that alcohol and crime are linked, just like gambling and crime are linked (and we're seeing a push to expand gambling throughout the state). This is, in fact, the very seed of the original prohibition movement - because of crime being related to alcohol - we simply outlaw alcohol (in this case make it less available for those with no transportation) - and the result is - interestingly - MORE crime. (Which is what I'm pointing out by bringing up the new wave of cityshine.)

As someone who provided the city council with a large number of studies over the negative impact Wal-Marts have on a region, and to see them fall over themselves to try and bring the big box retailer into the city - I find it curious that the city is rapidly enacting based on the response of a Hopkins study.

In Hampden, 2 of the 3 stores they are targeting for shutdown contribute to these violent crime states - in that they are frequently the targets of violent crime. The Wine Underground and Hampden Parks both have been frequent targets of armed robbery. To shut them down because of it is to blame the victim. But if that is the approach we are going to take, then we should also be shutting down Bank of America and Pataspco Bank on 36th St. because they are frequently targets of armed robbery.

Can we then, following this logic, also propose that we should take away homes from people who are broken into because those houses contribute to crime as well?

2. Food desserts - yes. And this is where Nick Mosby's new legislation becomes problematic because in some neighborhoods, liquor stores also serve as food stores (albeit poor ones). By criminalizing a portion of that store's clientele - you are also saying to the business owner - your market for these goods has just been cleaved. So business owners must reconsider the best usage for their square footage and many may stop carrying any food whatsoever - making those deserts even drier.

3. You are conflating causality. Little food shops are not disappearing "left and right" because of liquor stores. Little food shops are disappearing as more and more grocery stores move into the city.

4. In terms of liquor stores who don't comply with the law - well, they're in non-compliance and should face whatever the sanctions are for non-compliance. Fines. Pulling of the license. Shutting down. This has been the problem with the hated Red Fish on Falls. They are frequently in non-compliance, and yet they still are open.

5. You say, as an advocate for the devil, "it's only responsible to address the concerns of the city/community". What about the business community? Don't they get a say? Or do they only get a say when it's a large, multi-million dollar development and large corporate businesses? Also, in this matter, it is ridiculous to assert that only the "community" (which I think you mean "residential community") and city should be having this conversation and not the people whose very livelihood is at stake. But part of my pointing this out is because in Hampden, The Wine Underground and Roland Park Liquors are very highly thought of in the residential community and residents should be aware of what is planned because most I talked to, if they heard of this, thought only the bullet proof glass wrap type of liquor stores were targeted - not well-respected boutique stores.

6. As for my suggestions - ah the Fells Point problem. People who move to Fells Point, and then complain about it being... Fells Point. I say that as a former Fells Point resident. But you're right. I should have suggested a 6AM last call. Then we can negotiate maybe down to a 3-4AM last call (like they have in grown-up cities) and call it a compromise.

But my larger point is, we need to force these kinds of conversations. It's part of a larger theory I have which is that progressives have, over the years, actually become conservatives (in that they're happy with maintaining the status quo - which is what conservativism means) and conservatives have become regressive activists. So if we are not pushing forward, there are well-organized forces who are pushing things backward - which is what Baltimore's New Prohibition Era is - a regressive response to an issue. If we are busy demanding loosening of alcohol regulations - I even advocate for a new boutique liquor license so that specialty shops can sell a small amount of booze-related goods (I'll admit I'd like to be able to sell 6-packs of Atomic Books Beer) - the forces of regression will be too busy fighting to maintain the status quo to start pushing policy back to the early 1900s. (And this applies politically across the board, not just in this instance).

RA

As to the food desert issue, Benn, it's an important issue that seems entirely unrelated. While I don't agree with the proposed legislation that minors shouldn't be allowed to set foot in a liquor store, I don't believe that continuing to let them in solves the food desert problem--unless those liquor stores are actually selling fresh produce. But the proposed legislation doesn't help, either, unless it mandates that every closed liquor store is replaced by an organic food market.

If you want to advocate for healthy food options in poor neighborhoods, please do. It's an important issue. But they're not going to magically appear either by putting other types of business owners out of business or by letting kids buy continue to buy the grape soda and bugles stacked up next to the Miller Light.

Benn

I agree. The food issue isn't entirely related. But I have been in some liquor stores in city neighborhoods that do sell a small amount of food. When I lived in Fells Point, my corner liquor store also carried eggs, milk, lunch meats, bread. But make no mistake, it was still a primarily a liquor store. But there were no other food options for blocks around.

As lousy as it was, even the Hampden Food Market (it's primary revenue was liquor sales, scratch offs and poker machines) sold food (before it became a good restaurant). I've been in many corner liquor stores that do sell things besides just chips and candy - like bananas, oranges, etc.

I'm not trying to advocate for food options here. That is a larger, far more complex conversation. I am simply pointing out that in some neighborhoods, corner liquor stores have grown to serve the community by selling food where no other options exist. And that Mosby's legislation, while I understand and appreciate the intent, is hostile to that and will result in those businesses reconsidering how much of their square footage they are dedicating to non-liquor sales.

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