Friday, June 20, 2008

Washington DC's exclusive beer addresses

Call it Washington D.C.'s Permission for the Proper Address rule.

DC has prohibited single beer bottle or can sales in certain areas of the city and is considering expanding that prohibition to other areas. The ostensible point is to reduce loitering and public drunkenness. Many higher alcohol beers, such those insipid 'malt liquors', are sold in larger portion (often 40 liquid ounce) single containers, cans, or bottles.

The problem, or the controversy, is that exemptions can be made. Call it Washington D.C.'s Gourmet Exclusionary Rule. From the

Over the last few years a number of ANCs and Wards -- including a stretch of H Street NE, part of Logan Circle, and wards 4, 7 and 8 -- have banned the sale of single cans and bottles of beer, citing their tendency to cause their drinkers to pee on sidewalks, litter, and generally make trouble.

Now the Examiner is reporting that Council members Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) would like to see bans on single alcohol sales imposed in their respective domains. Evans is looking to ban singles in Shaw, Thomas Circle, Logan Circle and part of Penn Quarter (that's ANCs 2C and 2F), while Wells’ bill is for all of Ward 6.

Both Evans and Wells have included a provision that would allow stores to enter into voluntary agreements with their ANCs to continue the sales of single beers. This sort of provision, like the in place in Logan Circle that allows the Whole Foods on P Street to sell single craft beers without restriction, has caused cries of double standards along racial and class lines in the past.

It's an amusing sight in DC liquor stores which don't get exemptions and yet still sell large bottles of craft beers and imports such as Belgian beers. The stores will shrink-wrap two 750-ml bottles together to create a two-pack, thus satisfying the prohibition against single bottle sales.

Laws against public drunkenness, loitering, and disturbing the peace already exist on the books.

I first read about these proposals of City Council members Evans and Wells at Living in the District, a blog published by one of my fellow members of the DC-area Bloggers Meetup.

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