Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ban on Single Sales of Alcohol Proposed

A proposed ban on single sales of alcoholic beverages is the latest legislative buzz eminating from the City Council. Are such bans truly effective when combating the underlying problems of littering and public drinking, or should we work harder to enforce existing laws? It sounds like an easy solution, but does it discriminate against the poor?

I've been knocking on doors and asking. Feel free to share your opinions here (if you want your opinions to influence me as a Commissioner, please sign your post with your street block). Does anyone know where banning single sales has worked in some other jurisdiction? A Google search yielded few hits beyond the D.C. proposal.

Please see this message on from Robert V. Brannum:

Ward 5 Roundtable Discussion Announcement

On Tuesday, 27 May 2008, at 7 p.m., DC City Councilman Harry Thomas, Jr. will be holding a roundtable discussion on the sale of single containers of alcoholic beverages in Ward 5. Legislation has been introduced for Wards 4, 7, and 8 to prohibit the sale of an individual container of the package if the capacity of the individual container is 70 ounces or less, as well as prohibit the division of manufacturer’s package of more than one container of beer, malt, liquor, or ale. The meeting will be held at the Isle of Patmos Baptist Church, 12th Street and Rhode Island Avenue, NE. The contact number and e-mail address for Councilman Thomas is 724-8028 and


Robert Vinson Brannum
Chairman, 5th District Citizens' Advisory Council, Inc.
202-328-7611 fax


Anonymous said...


I support the ban, I like beer I like drinking and I have gone from liquor store to liquor store on a Saturday afternoon with friends buying “tall boys” on a walk to the mall, an activity that I no longer do. The only reason to buy a single mass produced beer is to drink it in public which is illegal in DC and enforcing such activity is nearly impossible. The only way to reduce drinking and urinating in public along with the other ills associated with such activity is to remove the supply from the market, we should ban single sales of beer. Do I still want to be able to buy a single specialty beer from Timore or Windows to drink at home, yes but I would give that up to stop the on street drinking and public urination.

Peter Pawlowski
Unit Block T ST NW

Anonymous said...

Hey Kris,
I totally support the ban and I hope that you will too. The fact is that in other parts of the city (Ward 4), it has shown to be effective and furthermore, we are plagued with an overabundance of liquor stores that have a ready market due to the many social service agencies and clients in our area. Let's face it we are talking about alcohol here. Ward 5 has some of the most dismal health stats. There is no way that alcohol helps in improving the well being of our residents, if it was clean water, healthy food that was in question here I would most definately say that we are being discriminatory to the poor. But I personally don't think that's the case here.
The N. Cap Area has for years been trying to attract new retail. Even in the real estate boom years, we have struggled and STILL struggle. Part of that is because of the blight that many potential investors see when they look around here where litter and public nuisance crimes remain a problem. Again, I support the ban and I hope you will too.
Joan W.
Quincy Pl, NE

Anonymous said...

I support the ban for the following reasons:

1. Singles are generally consumed by individuals who have alcoholism and this contributes to their illness;
2. Singles attract groups of individuals who comiserate with others in similar circumstances leading to loitering, panhandling and public nuisance;
3. The sale of 6-packs/cases targets individuals who will likely consume at their home and not on the street.

Steve Rynecki
100 Block of Quincy Place NE

Kris Hammond said...

Passing on this e-mail I received this morning from a resident who lives on Hanover Place N.W.:

I tried to post on your blog but it wouldnt work.

As we discussed, I am opposed to the ban. And I one of the very few residents near the B&V and Big Ben. Do you want me to poll my neighbors on NOrth Cap, I know them all.

Have you found any actual research on this issue, not just anectdote?

I am afraid the noisy ones, who do not even shop at these stores, will enforce their will on us all.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that it's not the neighbors, primarily, that support the liquor stores!

Anonymous said...

When there is a conflict between the People


Mao said..........
A fact-finding meeting need not be large; from three to five or seven or eight people are enough. Ample time must be allowed and an outline for the investigation must be prepared; furthermore, one must personally ask questions, take notes and have discussions with those at the meeting. Therefore one certainly cannot make an investigation, or do it well, without zeal, a determination to direct one's eyes downward and a thirst for knowledge.

I support Kris Hammond in his efforts to seek input from a wide range of view points concerning A Ban on the sale of single serve Beers or alcohol drinks. Concerns about health, litter and public urination come into play when addressing this issue. But lets look at a case in point, I'm a male, obese, middle class diabetic.Should I be drinking beer? Hell no, but if I want a cold one and just one I could walk down to the corner store and buy one. Would the community be concerned about it, I don't think so. Number one: I hope, I would be considered a low risk of peeing on the side of my neighbors homes.
Number Two: I am most likely to reycle my empty tall boy and not depoist it in anyones yard.
So even if the new law is passed I can still get in my car a drive to some where and buy a single bottle.

But what about folks that may not have the same ways and means?

Health is a paper tiger in this discussion because our real concerns are public intoxication, litter and public urination.
Kris has pointed out that we have laws on the books to address these issues but they are not evenly enforced or not enforced at all. We tend to throw Health in there to add some weight, but its not really valid unless you make the store owner check my blood sugar before he can sell me a drink. I have mixed feeling about the Ban and see both the pro and con.

We are lucky to have Kris as our ANC5C02 Rep. and I hope he will run for another term, I'd vote for him. even twice. ted mcginn

49 r st ne

Anonymous said...


I don't have studies to back my beliefs, but I do have personal experience. There tend to be a group of people on the corner of Florida and First NW soliciting money and using that money to buy singles. I have seen them ask for money and then go directly into the store and back out with "singles." In later hours, I have personally seen 3 fights break out on that corner in the past 2 years. I'm sure there are plenty of studies that support the idea that alcohol consumption increases the frequency of violence.

What's more is that it encourages groups of people to ask area residents for money to buy the liquor. The problem is that after you say no, the "regulars" to that street corner are not very friendly. This is just a bad scene for the community. I truly believe that refusal to sell singles will reduce this issue. I am happy that it is being seriously considered.

Jessica Culpepper
Unit Block R ST NW

Anonymous said...

I suppor the ban. I understand that not everyone wants or can afford to purchase a six-pack of beer. However, I believe it is in the best interest of the neighborhood to remove this product from the stores.

Could some of the stores that sell singles go out of business? Perhaps, but that might not be such a bad thing. They'll adapt or go out of business.

Will a singles ban please everyone? No, but you can't please everyone.

Please try the ban.

Charles Donalies
Unit block of R Street, NW

Anonymous said...


While I would support banning the sale of singles in targeted areas such as North Capitol St, as they have done in Mt. Pleasant and H St NE from 8th St east, I do not support a city-wide ban on the sale of singles. I personnally like Belgian beer and buy single bottles from Schneider's on Capitol Hill, amongst other places around DC. These bottles are only 25oz, so the would be effected by any ban on 40ozs and under.

Chris Church, 149 R, NE.

Sean Hennessey said...

can someone point out to all of us evidence that this ban has really worked?

i am skeptical of making laws against something that we all know is a band aid on the problem anyway and want to be certain that this results in cleaner streets for us.

If we are currently not able to enforce anti drunk in public laws, which is quite obvious when it is problematic, can we really force stores from selling single cans, which can be discreet?

Are the people that are causing problems really getting drunk and belligerent on one beer? do we ban pairs of beers? then four packs also?

Do we really think that the people causing concern will cease to cause concern? what stops them from switching to something else?

If there is strong evidence that this truly relieves problems, that would be beneficial in the argument.

Carrie Swann said...

I'm against the ban as an elitist standard for the consumption of alcohol. Bad behavior is bad behavior, be it excessive drinking, littering, or public urination. I have watched dozens of men pee in my alley with or without beer in hand, be it a single or from a six pack. The vast majority of littered bottles I pick up from my yard and alley are 12 oz bottles from six packs, soda bottles, or other non-alcoholic beverages. I've also known plenty of responsible neighbors and friends to buy 22 and 40 oz beers for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being the amount of cash in their pocket at a store without a credit card reader, or the availability of a specific product without driving to the suburbs.

It's unacceptable to say that those with enough money to buy a six-pack on any given day have the right to drink and those without must be teetotalers. If we wish to return to the days of temperance, it must be for all citizens, not only those some arbitrary standard deems undesirable. We have to acknowledge that both high- and low-end alcohol singles exist because there is a market for them, and in a capitalist system, the market, not the government, must be allowed to determine product availability as much as possible. There are better ways to discourage bad behavior in our communities than to simply label people unworthy based on an economic standard and legislate a poor answer to a market- and community-based problem.

Carrie on Summit Place

Anonymous said...

I support the ban. While understanding the arguments re elitism etc and also being aware that it does not address the underlying social problems, I think it has the potential to make a noticeable difference in our quality of life. And this may be my own elitism speaking, but if you can't afford a whole sixpack maybe you should not be spending your scarce resources on alcohol in the first place.

JD, Unit Block P Street, NW

Anonymous said...

I would like to point out two things. 1) Has anyone looked at the impact on small neighborhood stores. I personally know of two different neighborhood stores that had to close because of the loss of revenue in the Georgia Ave area. 2) Maybe it goes unnoticed but it is promoting bootlegging. At the corner where one of the stores closed, their is a man sitting in a pickup selling single beers. Not a sermon just a thought.

Anonymous said...

A little late to the party, but here's my 2 cents...

Let me preface my comments by saying I'm a police officer in DC.

I personally would support the ban on sales of single beers. As noted in previous posts open container of alcohol enforcement is not really high. If the police did enforce every open container violation they saw on a daily basis our housing facilities, courts, and judicial systems would be so clogged that we couldn't even process other criminals arrested on more serious charges. Also the area that you are talking about has enough problems with violent crime and the drug trade that taking one police officer off of the streets for at least an hour to process one open container of alcohol arrest is not worth the trouble. Think about it, if it takes one police officer to process one alcohol violation, multiplied by the number of violators just in the area of North Capitol and Florida Ave. and the Florida Park at 1st St. and Florida Ave. NW, there would not be any officers remaining on the streets to protect the citizens from any other crimes.

In my personal experience, it is primarily the panhandlers and other individuals who do not live in the area who purchase single beers/malt liquors/etc. who are the ones hanging out in the alleys, passing out on the sidewalk, and hanging around looking for their next fix of narcotics. I’m also not saying that honest, hardworking people don’t buy single beers. I’m sure they do. But I don’t often come into contact with people who buy their single beers and go inside their house to consume said beer, like they are supposed to.

So in my PERSONAL opinion, getting to the source of most of the open container violations (which lead to various other issues) would be beneficial to the area and city as a whole.

And for those people who want a single what everyone else does, buy a six-pack and have one then save the rest for the next time you want just one beer.

Anonymous said...

Depriving one segment of society of the rights and privileges that the rest of society enjoys is downright UNAMERICAN.

I buy singles frequently, and consume them in the privacy of my home. If others don't, then their offenses (drinking in public or whatever) should be dealt with directly.

If that law is impractical to enforce, then making broader (but easier to enforce) laws restricting peoples' choice is not the answer.

Maybe if we were more concerned with "Is this right?", instead of "Is this effective?", we wouldn't have so many problems like this in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Alcohol has really caused a lot of stir in governments across many countries in the world. Banning of single sales of alcoholic beverages is a way of starting to make a much stricter policy against alcohol addiction.