Durham council weighing a silly regulation

An amendment before the Durham city council may require restaurant owners to apply for a permit in order for their patrons to drink on tables set up on city sidewalks.

At first glance this might seem innocuous (except for requiring yet another permit that undoubtedly will cost too much money and take too long to acquire), but the amendment to the current law only allows for restaurants, not private clubs, and only those restaurants that operate on city streets (that’s right, 9th street restaurants would not be allowed to serve alcohol on the sidewalk since it’s a state operated street).

For a council that has been fairly friendly to restaurants and food trucks, this is a surprising move.  With any amount of common sense the measure will be defeated.  But common sense eludes statements like these:

City Attorney Patrick Baker, who led last week’s presentation of the proposed outdoor patio ordinance, said that the decision to exclude private clubs is due to the Durham Police Department concerns about potential problems with the combination of private clubs, alcohol and outdoor seating.

Naturally there’s no evidence cited that there is a current problem, just the mention that police are worried about potential problems, which is a pretty lame argument if it’s even considered an argument in favor.


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