Abolish Laws Against Outdoor Drinking

Comments

1

Charles, if you want to back this up with another fascinating angle, come hang out at Gemenskaap park in Ballard, especially on a Friday evening with nice weather. It might as well have a sign that says "whites only drinking park." One time I saw a group of white people literally set up a beer pong table and play maskless disease-sharing beer pong, even getting their children in on the fun for the beer pong part, and leave.

On one hand, I completely agree with you that drinking in public (especially during quarantine) should be legal. On the other hand, in the law's current state, the law is applied in EXTREMELY unequal doses, with white NIMBYs almost NEVER facing repercussions that other communities in the city do.

Again, I have no intention of NextDoor narcing on public drinkers, I just think the wink-wink-nudge-nudge "legal" drinking luxuries that authorities grant to white NIMBYs shouldn't be a right afforded only to them.

3

@2: Your post is what I call “bad apple” reasoning, aka the idea that we all have to endure some dumb law or restriction because one bad actor might do something stupid. Fuck that. If somebody is truly being a jackass, they can be arrested on some other charge.

4

Washington state's public drinking law dates to 1909 which puts it square in the context of the Progressive movement an important component of which was the policing of working class morals by well-meaning, aristocratic busybodies. It would culminate in the 18th amendment and prohibition. Drinking was strongly associated with the southern/eastern and (ahem) Catholic Europeans who were streaming in through Ellis Island at the time. I think its an interesting example of how long-ago "Progressive" policy has very little in common with the policies that use this word today.

Anyhow, for sure - undo it.

5

I'd estimate 10,000 beers were consumed at Greenlake over the weekend. 9,200 by white people. I had four.

6

Can ye spare some cutter, me brothers?

8

@2 'We' passed that law? When? in 1932? Actually I would not be surprised if you were 120 years old with your antediluvian views.

Like most puritanical bullshit laws from the post-prohibition era that we are still stuck with this one is both stupid and malignant. And absolutely a prime motivator/excuse for racist policing.

11

@2, You can eliminate this no-drinking-in-public law, and still arrest people for public drunkenness if some jackass gets shitfaced and starts causing problems. Personally, I'd rather someone be drunk on foot than drunk driving. Less hazardous to the general public.

This is one of those laws that is so selectively and rarely enforced, that it is used more to harass citizens that the cops don't like. Any law that is only occasionally and selectively enforced is ripe for abuse. While I don't have access to the data, I'd be willing to bet that Black and Brown citizens are arrested for this in numbers wildly out of proportion to their percentage of the population.

12

Yep. Its a really stupid law. And those who would abuse the privilege are already doing it. Myself included.

13

I concur with Charles and @11. We should allow pubic cannabis consumption as well.

This is essentially a conservative argument against unnecessary government intrusion. Therefore, I'll be giving Charles a complimentary subscription to the Reagan Library.

14

Good Afternoon Charles,
First of all, I disagree with your choice of words "murder of George Floyd". Murder connotes "premeditation" or "intent to kill". I am not defending former officer Chauvin but I'm exceedingly dubious that he wanted to kill Floyd. Chauvin must held accountable but I don't believe he intended to harm let alone kill Floyd with malice.

Regarding the abolition of laws against drinking outdoors yeah, OK. I'll grant a lukewarm endorsement of abolition. Drinking outdoors is not really harming anybody and should be allowed especially during COVID. It might cause more litter (excess bottles and cans etc.) but there's plenty of that anyway. Some parents might object and that would be a hurdle all right. But I don't have any problem with it per se.

What I do support is outdoor seating and drinking with chairs, tables, benches for all bars or taverns whether they serve food or not. This should be allowed immediately. The same can be true for all restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages. The law should be lax now anyway due to COVID and summer/autumn coming up.

So, you have a point.

15

This law is actively bad. If it were equally enforced among all populations, it wouldn't be as bad, but still pretty stupid, but for context:

one of my absolute FAVORITE hobbies is just having a drink in a park. I'm a 5' 4'' cis white woman in her 20's, pretty unassuming, on my little blanket, having a cider and maybe a snack in a north Seattle neighborhood park. My personal favorite has been Matthews Beach. Never even been approached by a park employee, nonetheless a cop about my public drinking.

Change any variable of that equation and the likelihood of being issued a ticket goes up. Downtown park? Chances go up. I was male? Chances go up. I was not white? Chances go WAY up. I'm drinking vodka and not a craft beer? Chances go up.

Either enforce it all the way (not preferential) or take it off the books.

16

@3 Aren't bad actors essentially why we have any laws? I agree this is dumb but isn't the same argument used against any type of gun laws?

17

This is perhaps too obvious to even mention, but clearly there's a distinction in the mind of police, and society, between "responsible" drinkers (white guys drinking a craft beer in a North Seattle park) and "irresponsible" ones (person of color drinking [insert non-high-end beverage] in S. Seattle). This is of course based on all kinds of racist, sexist, classist stereotypes.

One question, though - it occurs to me that legal drinking outside could cut sales at bars. If people can just bring beer (or vodka) to a park they might not be as likely to go to a bar. Not saying this is good or bad, just thinking through the consequences. Would to-go sales make up for that? I can see how the bar industry might oppose such a change if they were worried about lost revenue.

19

A few years ago the folks at Blue Moon introduced a spring seasonal peach dark ale. It was goddamn delicious, stout or porter like in color, but with a not-overpowering peach undercut. Why they won't reintroduce it is beyond me, but it inspired me to start experimenting. I now regularly "make" my own dark beers by combining roughly 1/3 of a portion of Trader Joe's oatmeal stout (or whatever else is available, though this is cheap and works fine for the purpose) with 2/3 of whatever fruit flavored ale happens to be available at a given time (and these days there are always plenty of options in that respect.) And I'll combine them into a rinsed out 20 ounce Coke or Dr Pepper bottle, so as to give myself cover for walking around the neighborhood. Pyramid's apricot ale is wonderful, as are a couple different raspberry offerings I've used. Even did a watermelon one that was nice. Nice long evening walks with the dog with one or two of them can be just lovely. Might even get away with doing your grocery shopping with one. Not that I'd ever advocate or do that myself mind you, heavens no.

20

@13 what does Reagan, of the war on drugs, violation of other nations sovereignty and increasing the debt, have to do with being conservative? Let me guess. Hurr durrrr tax cuts. That he had to roll back.

21

@13:

Charles already has a couple of film scripts under his belt. Reading "Bedtime For Bonzo" isn't going to be of much interest to him...

22

@18, Bingo! Don't like the law? Then change it. They did it with pot.

23

@4 - i have long suspected that Washington's generally uptight liquor laws were due to the population here being largely Protestant and Lutheran* at that. The comparison to California (founded by Catholics) is night and day.

*Q: Why don't Lutherans have sex standing up? A: Someone might see them and think they are dancing.

25

@23 I wish I could find it again, but I once saw Letter to the Editor printed in an Ohio newspaper I think it was in the 1870s. It was from a woman outraged about all these filthy Germans with their beer gardens and brass bands and Popery. She despaired that they would ever integrate and become proper Americans.

Some things never change.

27

Well, hell has frozen over. I agree with Charles.

29

this is hardly a 'seattle' problem - many cities have this crappy law. a few don't. New Orleans being the best.

not everything that happens in seattle is special. we should all get over ourselves a bit.

31

"In 2015, the Seattle Police Department issued 1,423 tickets for the class III civil infraction of opening and consuming liquor in public. In 2019, it issued 326 such tickets"

In other related news:
"Nearly 6,500 rape kits sit untested statewide, Washington attorney general says"
https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/crime/washington-attorney-general-identifies-nearly-6500-untested-rape-kits-statewide/

Sure, keep telling me how SPD is focused on public safety and the real criminals.

Making public drinking legal has 2 main strikes against it. It's a good idea and people want it. Expect prosecutors and police unions to resist any repeal at every step.

Reform for police only goes in one direction; more laws with stiffer punishment. You could probably get them on board with increasing the punishment to a felony. They might personally choose to not enforce a law to prove how "progressive" they are, but they will never sacrifice the discretion to enforce a law, especially when it comes to outdated vice laws.

We're currently going through a re-cycling of the late 1800's "white slavery" panic laws designed to criminalize inter-racial sex using laws such as the 1910 "White Slavery Traffic Act" used to incarcerate black boxer Jack Johnson from dating and later marrying a white sex worker. The law is still enforced to this day. Itsat on the books for decades entirely unused. Police Unions and prosecutors managed to quietly keep it around for 80 years against those who wanted to remove it as the racist law it is until a new highly profitable sex panic gripped the country again.

Having a beer with your dinner outside may seem innocent now, but that can reverse at any time and when it does, police and prosecutors want to be sure those laws are still on hand to ensure they have give out beer felonies from 1902 laws to "save the children and young (white) girls!"

I have a better solution. Let's just defund the police.

32

@31: Hate and bigotry is never a solution.

https://stopdefunding.com

34

@33: What you call silly is actually very strong correlation. With the rise of prosecution of lifestyle crimes over the past 50 years we have seen a steady decrease in the resolution of violent crimes to include murder, rape and theft.

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/10/17/facts-about-crime-in-the-u-s/
5 facts about crime in the U.S.
Violent crime in the U.S. has fallen sharply over the past quarter century.
Property crime has declined significantly over the long term
Public perceptions about crime in the U.S. often don’t align with the data.
There are large geographic variations in crime rates.
And most important:
Most crimes are not reported to police, and most reported crimes are not solved

So if a lab doesn't process a rape kit the police simply move on to public drinking enforcement?

More to the point, there is no way for the lab to process rape kits if the police continually fail to submit them in the first place. One of the biggest lies is pinning this problem in the labs. The police rarely show much interest in submitting rape kits in the first place and they certainly aren't following up after the fact,

37

It's illegal?

38

As someone who lives next to a north Seattle park, my objections arise from my own observations over the last seven years. Sure, they’re anecdotal, but they’re unavoidable while I do the dishes and make food, both of which are constant with two growing girls. They’re also unavoidable because the drinking inevitably leads to injuries on park property, throwing up on public and my property, fights between fellow drinkers, and the all-too-frequent public urination in plain view of my family. Now I’m no Puritan, but old men pointing their drunk dicks in the direction of my girls seriously pisses me off (no pun intended, but enjoyed nonetheless).

What they can’t see cuz they’re shitfaced is how many people they ward off with their drunk behavior - parents who would otherwise use the park to play catch or tag with their kid, people walking their dogs, folks who want to just enjoy a quiet moment reading or staring at their phone, etc. Catcalling women walking their dogs is another common favorite. It’s everyone’s park, not just parents with children, I’m well aware and happy about that. When one or more groups takes over the park with drinking and the undesirable behaviors, it’s unfair to all the other potential park users. So yeah, I’ll get nimby about this cuz it’s right outside my window. Big no from me.

39

"And it's not so much the ticket....but more the fear of having a bad encounter with the police."

More of the Defund the Police nonsense. More of the "Lets all poop in someone else's nest" nonsense.

If you fear the police, DON'T BREAK THE LAW. It's easy enough. Drink in your own back yard. Drink in a beer garden. Drink where it's allowed in a picnic area.

Or perhaps you might like it if we all walked our dogs, sans baggies, in YOUR front yard.

40

What's the fuss about? All one has to do is join a private golf club and you can drink outside all day long.

41

Outdoor vs public.
Today, you can have a drink (wine, beer) outside if you desire. As long as you can find an establishment with a designated outdoor dining/serving area. Beer gardens are also possible.

The advantage of such facilities is that it creates a level of enforcement before the police need to be called for public intoxication. Misbehave and the proprietor of the establishment can cut you of and/or ask to you leave. That creates sufficient motive for most (not all) drinkers to regulate their own behavior. And it motivates the licensed proprietors to monitor the behavior of their patrons. Or risk losing their liquor license.

In today's political environment, placing one benign level of enforcement between drinkers and the police can only be a good thing. Legalize drinking in a public place and no such intermediary exists. Once one reaches some limit of acceptable intoxication, the police must be called. That does not always end well.