Council committee bans sale of single-serving liquor after midnight

on Aug30

30 August 2017 | 8:27 pm

People who stand outside pharmacies and convenience stores drinking cans of beer, containers of wine and single-servings of liquor may just have to go cold turkey when the clock strikes midnight.

Concerned about public drinking and the myriad problems that come with it, the City Council’s License Committee moved Wednesday to shut off the spigot — not at restaurants and bars, but at package stores.

The ordinance would prohibit stores from selling or giving away “single containers of wine or liquor that hold less than 25 fluid ounces or single containers of beer or malt liquor that hold less than 41 fluid ounces” between midnight and 7 a.m.

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) said he introduced the ordinance to confront a quality-of-life issue.

“The later it gets, the more likely someone buying the single serving is gonna sit there on the sidewalk and consume it,” Hopkins said.

“Then, you’ve got public intoxication, public urination, fights, congregations. This is in response to that.”

Hopkins noted that single-servings of beer, wine and liquor only costs a few bucks, encouraging panhandling.

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) said banning the single-serve liquor servings is a quality-of-life issue. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

“They’ll sit in front of the retailer, wait until they collect enough money to buy one, drink it, then panhandle another hour until they get money to buy a second one,” he said.

“This is gonna cut down on congregating in front of the doors to stores, which can be intimidating to people.”

Ellen Hughes, who lives near the Belmont L, applauded the crackdown.

“After midnight, the people who want to get drunk and the criminals who want to rob them all show up together,” she said.

“It would greatly increase our safety and improve our neighborhood if you would stop them from drinking after midnight.”

East Lake View resident Loretta Quijas wholeheartedly agreed. Quijas said her 13-year-old daughter shouldn’t have to “kick cans and bottles out of her way” on the walk to school each day.

“Once the sun goes down, you have to be trapped in your house for a certain period of time. You don’t know what you’re gonna see…when you come out on the street the next day,” Quijas said.

Charles Wilcox lives in the 2900 block of North Sheffield. He’s tired of “liquor bottles flying over the fence” and onto his lawn.

“Any little bit would help. If it was extended even longer” it would help more, Wilcox said.

“I’m surprised that they [even] sell liquor in single-serve bottles. But I pick ’em up out of my yard all the time, so I know they do.”

Lincoln Park Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) signed on as a co-sponsor of the after-midnight ban. Her ward includes DePaul University, which she said has a “a lot of young people newly engaged in drinking.”

“We definitely need this ordinance to protect people truly from the over-drinking that can happen,” Smith said.

“We have a very well-regulated hospitality industry. If there’s an issue of over-serving, we have the means to work with [City Hall] and police to curb that. But in the package good industry, there’s no current mechanism to do that.”

West Side Ald. Michael Scott Jr. (24th) noted that there are “a lot of bad actors on the package good side.”

But he wondered aloud how the “very important” ordinance would be enforced.

He was told that enforcement would “primarily fall to police” because the ban would be in effect during overnight hours.

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