Do You Like Philly’s New Beer Gardens? Too Bad.

Sign the petition to keep state legislators away from Philly’s favorite new trend.

That little legal loophole that’s letting beer gardens proliferate around Philadelphia this summer? Well, some state legislators want to close it, soon — meaning Philly’s summer of beer might be truncated in the not-too-distant future. Philadelphia Business Journal points to a weekend story noting that four legislators (including Philadelphia Republican John Taylor) have signed a letter to the Liquor Control Board asking that the board enforce alcohol laws differently. The law that allows summer-long pop-up beer gardens, they say, was intended only to allow temporary one-time events, like weddings, to feature alcohol in otherwise off-limits settings. The Daily News reports:

In the two-page letter dated Thursday and signed by state Reps. John Taylor, R-Philadelphia; Paul Costa, D-Allegheny; and state Sens. Chuck McIlhinney, R-Bucks, and Jim Ferlo, D-Allegheny, the legislators said the board is ignoring provisions of the law by creating public events that can go on for an “endless number of days.”

They contend the practice is an “attempt to permanently establish a retail liquor establishment at an unlicensed location.”

“Off-premise catering permits are a useful tool offered to our licensees in order to provide a service to the public,” they wrote. “However, the application of the law by your agency allows for the purposeful misuse of the permits.”

A good question to ask right this moment is … “why?”

Sure, the permits aren’t being used how they were intended. Fine. But are the beer gardens harming anybody? Driving down nearby property values? Creating an unspeakable wave of DUI deaths? It’s possible, I guess, but those factors haven’t been reported publicly.

What has been reported — and is notable to anybody who bothers to look — is that the beer gardens have become vibrant public spaces where, in some cases, there wasn’t previously much vibrancy.

That’s a good thing So why mess with it? Because it wasn’t fully intended? Because some legislator is mad that fun was being held without permission? Ugh. This state’s complicated, sorry relationship with alcohol and the people who sell it never ceases to be confusing and frustrating.

UPDATE: Philly activist Conrad Benner is promoting a petition to preserve the pop-up beer gardens. As of 2:52 p.m. Monday, the document had 412 signatures.

UPDATE 2: The Foobooz guys are steamed.

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  • guest

    Philadelphia and the state of PA basically ruin everything with over-regulation and unions. God forbid the city get to have a little more life and host something attractive and fun for residents and tourists.

  • William Haines

    Its Philadelphia and PA….where business goes to DIE!

  • Brian Jason Turner

    Why can’t they be impeached, they are clearly Bored. Either you’re part of the problem or the solution. If no one is being hurt and these events are bringing joy to the public, leave them be. Why does anyone in Allegheny County give a damn about events occurring in Philadelphia ? Education in the state is underfunded and our bridges are falling apart. There’s plenty of work to be done, Focus Gentlemen, get to work !!

  • Deo

    Not fair to the brick & mortar establishments unless the city /state wants to give them the same amount of tax free days!

  • Atombird

    I’d say to lighten up a little. Are the operators receiving a break with the permit fees, etc?. Probably so, right?? I can see if retail establishments are carping, but I haven’t really heard that…..yet.

  • bjc

    If I owned a liquor license, I’d be pissed. I thought these places were city run. If private, then they’re getting a sweet deal. Yes, it’s a nice use of space, but it needs to be fair.

  • BHB

    Who is paying for their liability insurance, do they have any? Licensed operators must pay insurance and are constantly being watched to protect the public from idiots who drink to much. When some moron gets wasted and drives into a few people on south street, who is going to pay their med/death bills? I love the fact that beer gardens are in operation, really! I love beer, but please make sure they are operating correctly and held to the same legal standards as a licensed establishment. If not then why should a bar owner have a license and pay taxes when they can have a legal speakeasy and be OK. Think things through before you write articles without knowing the legal ramifications. And btw please don’t over politicize things, its a bipartisan issue with 2 dems and 2 reps, politics have nothing to do with this.

    • jlk7e

      But the operators already have a liquor license for their main establishment.

    • Charliefoxtrot

      They’ll either have insurance or be personally liable.

  • Earl J

    John Taylor is a State Rep out of the River Wards. He is vulnerable in the next election. That is the best best way to stop this nonsense when he should be focused on representing our city schools and infrastructure in Harrisburg .

    • Presbyton

      Taylor has done a lot for the schools and infrastructure.