Tuesday, April 21, 2009

City Council Power Grab

I don't even know where to begin in criticizing Racine's new liquor ordinance. But let us start with the facts. The ordinance, which passed last night with only aldermen Shields and Coe dissenting, pertains only to establishments that sell liquor for off premises consumption. In other words, it does not apply to bars and restaurants. New establisments would need to be at least 1000 feet from another establishment and 300 feet from any place predominantly attended by those under the age of 21, including schools and churches. The total number of such establishments shall not exceed 60, though there are presently 66 in the city. And finally, license applicants "will have to show that they will substantially improve the city's tax base and have a greater impact than simply adding another convenience store" according to the JT article on the subject. A two thirds vote of the city council would be needed to circumvent the new rules.

Or, in other words, do not even think about opening a convenience store or grocery store in the city of Racine without seriously sucking up to the city council.

The first casualty of the new ordinance is one Caroline Chun who had wanted to open a convenience/liquor store on 6th Street. Start grovelling Ms Chun.

6th Street was at one time the recipient, or victim, of the city's attempt to create an arts district. The city's micromanagement of 6th Street as the Heart of the Arts has been an obvious failure. But their latest venture, called the Vacant Building Initiative, is off to a great start.


colt said...

"it does not apply to bars and restaurants."

The City fears the Taven League they have a lot of money and can find members to run for office.

The Vacant Building Initiative why should the city care they still get their tax money or in the case of Bid #1 The DRC who as long as IMHO only the right businesses are downtown could care less about the numbers of empty store fronts. What are we at 40% empty stores?

Urban Pioneer said...

The Downtown are is probaly close to 40% vacanct, However Main St. is actually close to 80% occupied.

Had the City Council in it is Wisdom (sarcasm here), Not diluted the Arts initiative into Uptown, 6th St. would be closer to a 50-70% occupancy by now.

The Vacant Building Initiative is off to a great start, I must agree. I'm disappointed that Helding and DeHahn would support this restriction of trade!

Colt said...

Urban Pioneer

I will have to walk and count the store fronts even if its 30% empty bad news. The street closings will do the downtown little good.

Urban Pioneer said...

Actually 30% is GOOD News..a few years ago it was over 50% vacant on Main St. Were moving in the RIGHT direction..despite the Common Council! There are a few businesses with pending retirements, and a few new additions this Month. Jimmy Johns, Farmers insurance. There are also numerous business "above" the Street Level. featuring Architects, Lawyers, Marketing specialists and others. Not so obvious to the naked eye.
With continued support of citizens Downtown will continue to grow.

Pay attention to the Alderpersons who are limiting Growth, and vote accordingly!! Helding, Spangenberg, What are you thinking???

BTW JODY HARDING spoke last night on the issue and called for less restrictions to business, and promoting growth. I believe her comments are posted on her Web site jodyformayor.com.

Colt said...

Yes Jody will be on Storm Racine Podcast sometime this weekend. Looking forward to hearing it.
I might have a choice after all

concrete katie said...

Artists grow areas because they are fearless and always around because they cannot afford to go anywhere. When it was decided to make Sixth Street a clone of Main Street, the heart of arts was destined to be moved out because high rents and high taxes and artists do not go together. Main Streets have establishment types of galleries (a yawn for me) and practicing artists seek obscure and affordable areas. The Pilsen neighborhood in Chicago thrives now and is exciting - it has for years but now, partly because of the influx of Mexicans and partly because of the flight of artists from the trendy areas.

I thank you Denis and Urban for joining the cause last night for the Chuns and for Michael Choi and for Sixth Street. I love it that the two ends of the political spectrum were united. Jody Harding thank you too. I believe Sixth Street should not try to be what it isn't. I believe downtown should be comfortable for all its citizens. Sixth Street could still be the street that offers this diversity. Right now it is broken. It has had no champions and has suffered with this mardi gras approach to a vibrant downtown which is not good for a daytime vibrancy and is a stretch for this struggling city. I have come to care about many friends who have gotten hurt for having believed in this street and invested here. I include myself. That is why I get so worked up. I really love this walkable city with its rivershed and its view of an ocean - vast water, big sky. But last night the full force of its worst enemy was present.