City officials and business owners have kicked around the idea of controlled on-street consumption of alcoholic beverages in downtown for years. Now it may be coming to fruition.
Currently, consuming alcohol on the sidewalks is only allowed during the city’s big festivals which benefits the events’ beer vendors rather than the area’s plentiful restaurants and bars. A proposed ordinance would extend on-street consumption within a designated district to non-festival days as well.
A brief report by city staff stated the designated district would encourage events, artistic performances and other forms of organized entertainment while providing more effective public safety enforcement in the area.
The proposed designated area, dubbed Downtown Entertainment District, stretches from 5th Avenue to Evans Park waterfront and from Baker Street to the 4th Avenue docks and the downtown lakefront. Drinking from a can, bottle, or glass would still be prohibited, but establishments licensed to serve alcohol would be permitted to pour patrons drinks in clear plastic cups which could then be taken off the premises, as long as they did not leave the Downtown Entertainment District. The drinks cannot exceed 16 ounces. The City is also considering whether to require the businesses to pour the drinks in branded cups, so it can be determined where the drinks originated, thus promoting accountability and assisting law enforcement when necessary.
The City Council will ultimately decide the days and times when the open-consumption would be permitted. It could mirror Eustis, which allows it seven days a week.
The first public reading of the ordinance is scheduled for June 5 at City Hall.
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