The ordinance banning open containers on Jefferson Street and the McKinley and Surrey strips that failed on a 5-4 vote Tuesday could wind up back before the City-Parish Council in a couple of weeks, and the councilman spearheading the effort to revive the ordinance predicts a favorable outcome.
District 7 Councilman Don Bertrand tells The Independent he’s asked the council clerk to put the “go cup” ordinance on an upcoming agenda, hopefully for the Oct. 5 meeting. And Bertrand says his five colleagues who opposed the ordinance can expect some pressure in the intervening week and a half. “They’ll be hearing from the downtown business owners who have to deal with the mess,” Bertrand says.
The ordinance banning open containers was designed the address the problem of plastic cups used by bar patrons to transport their alcohol out of the bars, which creates a lot of trash littering the parts of town where bars have proliferated. It was one of two before the council Tuesday; the second, banning cruising by motorists, was pulled from the agenda after the open container ban failed.
The measures are two of a handful of ideas endorsed by some downtown business owners, the Durel administration and police to address the large, sometimes rowdy crowds that descend on the downtown on weekend nights. Banning loitering was also part of the conversation several months ago, but it never got traction in the form of an ordinance.
On Tuesday, Sept. 28, the council’s agenda includes a discussion item that many feel would be most effective in mitigating the crowd issue downtown: banning 18-20 year olds from bars altogether. Police allege — and bar owners dispute — that many of these underage patrons are managing to get alcohol despite the minimum legal drinking age of 21, exacerbating the crowd-control problems police have on weekends.
The measure is only a discussion item and it’s unclear whether it will ever be expressed in the form of an ordinance. Bertrand is doubtful: “If we can’t even pass an open container ordinance, I don’t see how an 18-20 year old ordinance would stand a chance,” he admits.