Four State Lawmakers Want to Squash Philadelphia’s Pop-Up Beer Gardens

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Last week, the Daily News reported on a quirk in the PA liquor code which allows vendors who own liquor licenses to use inexpensive $500 off-premise catering permits to serve alcohol at the temporary pop-up beer gardens that have been springing up this summer in Philadelphia.

The success of these outdoor beer gardens is spooking some other drinking establishments, prompting a few legislators to write to the PA Liquor Control Board urging them to reinterpret the law before the beer garden scourge spreads to other PA cities.  The letter, signed by Republicans Chuck McIlhinney and John Taylor, as well as Democrats Jim Ferlo and Paul Costa, cites the issue as a matter of “grave concern.”

Now, although the beer gardens take advantage of this loophole, they have done nothing but good for the city of Philadelphia.  Repurposing abandoned lots, generating new tax revenue, and providing beautiful outdoor venues for Philadelphians to enjoy summer nights in the city doesn’t sound like much of a “grave concern” to me.   If the pop-up gardens were forced to pay the exorbitant fees for a regular liquor license, they would surely be priced right out of existence, turning the vacant lots right back into..well, vacant lots.

These kinds of economic development projects which engage the community are exactly the type of ventures Philly-area lawmakers should be striving to promote. But these four lawmakers apparently think bar owners’ special interests outweigh the interests of most residents.

If you want to keep the pop-up beer gardens going, our friends at the Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus put together a petition, calling on legislators to support them.  If the gardens do lose their liquor licenses over something ridiculous like this, I’m sure voters will remember the actions taken by these four lawmakers come election time.

This entry was posted in Economic Development, Economy, Elections, Issues, State House, State Senate.

14 Responses to Four State Lawmakers Want to Squash Philadelphia’s Pop-Up Beer Gardens

  1. Albert Brooks says:

    Ferlo and Costa, Democrats who want at any cost to preserve the status quo of the PLCB and McIlhinney and Taylor who came up with some of the most convoluted ridiculous plans to privatize the PLCB ensuring that nothing would get done. They might as well be Democrats. Gotta wonder why you don’t hear the local representatives complaining.

  2. Squarian says:

    Classic illustration of PA’s crypto-prohibition regulatory regime restricting market access in the threadworn guise of protecting public health.

    The GOP members are doing what they are hired to do, protecting vested economic interests. But are we surprised that Ferlo and Costa are part of this junta? Not one little bit. I’ve forgotten – what is the point of Jim Ferlo? Whatever he once was, he has become a Bourbon. And I do not mean the whiskey.

    • Reality says:

      By vested economic interests, you mean those of UFCW 1776, right?

      McIlhinney and Taylor are union stooges that don’t want to upset the apple cart. More competition is bad for the status quo.

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  4. phillydem says:

    Let’s be clear here that the entities involved are the Phila Horticultural Society and the Fairmount Park Conservancy, both upstanding civic organizations whose caterers figured out a way to circument the current law – for what most people would believe are good causes.

    I’m sure the proposed clarification of the law is meant to preempt those licesensees who would use the loophole to establish “nuisance” beer gardens. I doubt many people are in favor of that potential outcome.

  5. Albert Brooks says:

    Just how do you know if it is a “nuisance” beer garden until after it is in place? Let’s be clear, those four are bought and paid for hacks, two doing union bidding and two private business bidding. The only thing you can count on is the public is going to get screwed.

    • Sean Kitchen says:

      Albert, please explain how Costa and Ferlo are helping unions on this issue? I’d love to hear it. If anything theyre protecting bar owners. Working in a distributor, you do hear about bar owners using the plcb as a tool against competition. On the other hand, I do think PhillyDem is absolutely wrong about implying that they’re, or could be a nuisance. I’ve been to beer gardens in Europe and they’re amazing. So why can’t we have them.

      • Albert Brooks says:

        Anything that loosens the iron grip of the PLCB is against what the unions want and therefore against what the Democrats want. Ferlo & Costa are doing what they are told now that they know how they are supposed to react.

        While beer is somewhat private, although under artificial limitations set by the PLCB, it is still under the control of the PLCB.

      • phillydem says:

        I can easily see licensees setting up beer gardens in neighborhoods that they might feel are underserved. The patrons could be upstanding millenials, but they still can drink too much and cause unwanted problems. Just ask the residents of Pgh’s South Side how Carson St gets on weekends.

        • BT says:

          And if they drink too much and break an existing law, arrest them for breaking an existing law.

          • phillydem says:

            I believe the Pgh PD does that these days. But, I’d guess the patrons just think the cops are being overly authoritarian and stopping them from their right to drink as much as they want and have a little fun.

            Anyway, one sure doesn’t have to break laws to become obnoxious and idiotic after a few beers. I know from personal experience.

  6. John Rzodkiewicz says:

    It might be that because those four legislators are the majority and minority chairs of the committees with oversight they got together to wrote a bipartisan letter.
    BTW, you should know online petitions are completely worthless, unless you’re really new to the game.

  7. John Rzodkiewicz says:

    Calls from constituents are very effective and if the poll is driving some it does have value. Online polls and form letters not so much.