Evans proposes liquor ban

Foggy Bottom residents may no longer be able to purchase individual containers of alcohol at their local liquor store if a proposed law goes into effect next month.

On Tuesday, D.C. City Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) proposed extending a ban on single-sale alcohol – which is already active in several parts of the city – to all of Ward 2, which includes Foggy Bottom. A council vote on Oct. 7 will decide the fate of single sales in Ward 2.

Banned items would include single cans and bottles of beer, 40-ounce malt liquor, single-serve spirits, and containers of alcohol 70 ounces or less.

Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), a proponent of the ban, said it is an answer to complaints of public drunkenness and disorder in certain neighborhoods. D.C. first raised the issue in 1999 in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood, just north of Adams Morgan, and Graham said he is exploring a ban that will include the entire District.

“In the Mount Pleasant neighborhood, reports confirm that there is less litter, less antisocial crimes and less public intoxication,” Graham said, adding that Mount Pleasant can be used as an example of what the ban can accomplish for the city.

Since 1999, several neighborhoods across the city have approved or seriously considered taking up the ban. It was most recently passed this summer in Ward 4, which encompasses several neighborhoods in the Northeast part of the city. Now the issue is on the agenda of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2A, which encompasses the Foggy Bottom and the West End neighborhoods.

Graham left control of specifying the ban up to each neighborhood’s ANC, in an attempt to recognize the variety of differing personalities among D.C. neighborhoods.

Many local politicians and residents have praised the proposals potential for ridding the streets of debris and abating public drunkenness, but some local store owners said they will bear the burden.

Sonu Singh, manager of Riverside Liquors on E Street, attributes a significant portion of his sales to single-sale beer and spirits. He said if those items are banned, he will not only lose money, but the city could potentially lose tax dollars to bars and liquor stores in Virginia.

Singh argued at the ANC meeting last month that the Foggy Bottom neighborhood is not affected by the problems associated with public intoxication as much as other areas of the city. He added that most of the problems stem from lower-quality beverages like malt liquor, making it unnecessary to ban high-end single-sale beverages.

“I asked the ANC to consider compromising on the ban – for certain items, or for a certain price range – for instance like setting a $3 minimum price,” Singh said.

Singh said GW students would not be significantly affected by the ban.

“Most college students of legal drinking age buy cases or other bulk items, so they would not be directly affected by the ban,” Singh said. “The occasional ’40’ that students buy is the only thing that would change.”

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