Thursday, October 11, 2012

Victory for Alliance on Alcohol Impact Ordinance

Click below for the Omaha Alliance for the Private Sector's statement at the Sep. 25 City Council hearing on the alcohol impact ordinance.

September 25, 2012
Omaha City Council Hearing
Alcohol Impact Ordinance

Chip Maxwell for the Omaha Alliance for the Private Sector.

The Alliance is torn on this ordinance. We’re not really opposed, closer to neutral.

We like the idea of stronger local control. I live five blocks from Gifford Park and three blocks from Joslyn Castle, two neighborhood associations that have been very active on this issue. Neighborhoods and businesses need to the local authority to fix problems so the quality of residential life and the atmosphere for commerce are as healthy as possible.

We have a problem with the $75 fee. Why should businesses that aren’t causing any problems be hit with a fee? The other side says it’s just one of those fees or taxes everybody pays to have a good society; c’mon, what’s 75 bucks? Here’s the rub from the Alliance’s perspective. It’s not about the amount of money. It’s the principle of it. Here comes government again sticking another tap in the side of the business or taxpayer to generate another revenue stream to solve another problem.

Don’t grow government to solve the problem. Solve it within existing resources. Instead of creating a new bureaucratic system in the Planning Department, we’d like to see more effective utilization of law enforcement. We think some tweaking in the way the police handle problem establishments would fix the situation. There are proven models of community policing and problem oriented policing that have dealt successfully with these challenges in other cities.

We are concerned about the proposed Alcohol Overlay Districts. We’re not sure they are necessary to accomplish what folks seem most interested in accomplishing. We’re also concerned about the blanket authority and dragnet approach they seem to create. And again, the authority proposed in the ordinance would be exercised over good actors as well as bad actors. This effort used to focus on reforming or closing bad actors, but it seems to have morphed into a comprehensive scheme of social management that could apply one-size-fits-all remedies on establishments that are not troublemakers.

If the overlay districts and the $75 fee are removed, the Alliance would welcome a better way to clean up some of the problem spots in our community.

Thank you.

Note: After the hearing, Council Member Pete Festersen said he agreed and would introduce an amendment to remove the fee and the overlay districts from the ordinance. The ordinance was enacted as amended -- a small but welcome victory for the business community.

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