District 19 Councilwoman Erica Gilmore returned from her trip to Denver for the Democratic National Convention impressed with the Mile High City.
Gilmore said Denver was so green and litter-free that it reinvigorated her interest in a piece of legislation aimed at cleaning up Nashville’s downtown. To that end, Gilmore has begun finalizing a piece of legislation that would ban single item beer sales in the urban core.
A single item beer ban for retail locations like convenience stores was been brought before Metro Council in 2002. By the time it passed it was so watered down, it didn’t accomplish its original intent. The law posted more ‘No littering’ signs, but didn’t ban single item beer sales at retail stores.
Gilmore is hoping this time is different.
“I think we have a better grasp of how to deal with it,” Gilmore said. “Just traveling to Denver, it was really clean. It was really amazing actually. You think, ‘When I walk downtown, I wish our downtown could be like this.’”
Gilmore believes single item beer sales contribute to vagrants loitering around downtown and leads to littering.
“You have people loitering round, hanging around with bottles, it does not look attractive,” Gilmore said.
Public relations strategist Joe Hall opposed the beer ban on the first go-round. He represents Anheuser-Busch and said the single item ban does not solve the problems it attempts to address.
Hall said laws are already on the books to address loitering, public intoxication, littering and other issues associated with irresponsible drinking.
He added that a single item beer ban would deprive Metro of sales tax and beer tax dollars, which he estimated to be several million dollars annually. A ban is opposed by the Tennessee Grocers Association, the Tennessee Oil Marketers Association and the Tennessee Malt Beverages Association, Hall said.
“It doesn’t make sense to pass a law that solves nothing, yet takes away the rights of law abiding citizens,” Hall said. “It’s purely window dressing.”
Gilmore said she was still fine-tuning the bill how far beyond downtown it would extend and other issues.
District 6 Councilman Mike Jameson, whose district includes much of downtown and East Nashville, has expressed support for a ban of single item beer sales in the past.