all-ages and 18+ venues still part of revised draft alcohol ordinance in Savannah

From Eric Curl’s Savannah City Council supportive of new alcohol rules for youths, businesses:

The proposed ordinance presented to the council Thursday includes the creation of a live entertainment venue license that would allow 18 to 20-year-olds to attend musical acts and other performances at bars.

Karaoke and DJs would be excluded from performances that could be attended by underage patrons. […]

In addition, an “event venue” category would be established for theaters that serve alcohol to allow underage attendance. The establishments that would fall under the category could not be open for daily performances or have a permanent bar.

So Savannah’s elected officials and full-time staff members continue to inch closer to a sane alcohol policy that would allow 18+ shows at music venues that function from day to day as bars and would allow all-ages shows at event venues that are not regulated as bars would be. These changes would bring Savannah’s alcohol ordinance more closely in line with the ordinances in every city that would be considered a competitor of ours, and the changes could immeasurably help the music scene. (Btw, the headline of the article is a little misleading: “youths” can’t have alcohol no matter where they are.)

The current restrictive polices that have been in place for almost a decade have 1) culturally isolated musicians and music fans under 21 from those over 21, 2) made Savannah less attractive to touring musicians with large college-age fanbases, and 3) discouraged investors who might want to open larger venues that would need both alcohol sales and high attendance to make a go of it.

Given the relatively small size of some of Savannah’s venues and given that it’s easier to make money off legal drinkers, we might see some clubs continue to be 21 and up only — or perhaps only occasionally open the doors to 18 to 20-year-olds. But don’t underestimate the importance of the event venue license. A location like Dollhouse could theoretically host all-ages shows and still be allowed to sell alcohol.

Will Savannah City Council really move ahead with these changes and the others mentioned in Eric’s article, or will the process get bogged down mysteriously yet again? The article notes concerns expressed by aldermen Van Johnson and Tony Thomas, but they would need three other aldermen willing to dial back the clock. City officials have had more or less the same key elements in their draft since January of 2015, and it would be pretty sad if we recycled any of the truly lousy ideas that city staff recommended in their fall 2014 draft or if we went through all these revisions only to keep the most onerous and wrong-headed provisions of the current ordinance.

Does the current draft have everything I want? Not by a long shot, but it’s a vast improvement over what we have now. Click here for more info.