Revisions made, input sought on draft alcohol ordinance
For more than a year, the City has been working to draft comprehensive revisions to Savannah’s Alcoholic Beverage Ordinance. The City has spent several months meetings with residents, students, business owners, and other groups that have an interest in alcohol regulation within the city. The feedback has been invaluable in helping to shape the proposed ordinance.
Based on that feedback, City Manager Stephanie Cutter announces today that she will recommend to Council the addition of a new permit allowing patrons between the ages of 18 and 21 into venues that are offering live entertainment. Currently, those under the age of 21 are not allowed in bars. The definition of live entertainment is defined as a vocal or instrumental performance by a natural person(s) who is physically present in the establishment and specifically excludes disc jockeys and karaoke performances. This option would be an add-on permit, and could be revoked or suspended separately from the primary alcohol license.
At this time, the City is seeking additional input on the boundaries of the go-cup zone, which currently extends from Hutchinson Island to Jones Street. The proposed ordinance includes an extension of the zone south to Park Avenue, between Whitaker and Drayton streets.
The expansion of the go-cup boundary to include Forsyth Park was proposed to help clear up confusion about the zone’s southern boundary, and to make legal a practice that is common today in Forsyth Park with frequent special events. Some residents, however, have expressed concern that broadening the zone will encourage increased outdoor consumption of alcohol in residential areas.
Additional feedback on the go-cup zone is being sought, and can be offered at www.savannahga.gov/alcohol.
Other recent proposed revisions made to the draft ordinance since its release in September include:
· The removal of the provision that would require anyone under 21 to leave an alcohol-serving restaurant at 10 pm. Those under 21 may now stay in these establishments until closing.
· The removal of mandated security staffing requirements for alcohol-serving establishments.
· The allowance of minors within a business that serves complimentary alcohol, such as nail salons and spas.
· The expansion of residency for managers to within 50 miles of the establishment.
· Because of continuing discussion/feedback with bar restaurant owners, bar cards will be required for all bar/restaurant personnel that serve alcohol. The City is actively looking to contract out the service of processing and providing bar cards in an effort to streamline the process
· The inclusion of required alcohol liability insurance for all businesses with a permit
The public can view the entire revised draft ordinance at www.savannahga.gov/alcohol.
The tentative schedule is for proposed revisions to come before City Council during a workshop in April, which would be followed by two readings of the draft during subsequent Council Meetings.