NFB General Meeting, October 2, 2019

Commander Young from NOPD was unable to attend. 

Meeting started at 7:17PM when Andrew Sullivan from Coucilmember Palmer’s staff arrived. 

Anthony introduced Mr. Sullivan, who explained the plans to revise the City Code on Alcohol Beverage Outlets (ABOs), which will come before City Council tomorrow (October 3rd). Most of the law was written in 1956 and is in need of updating. Discriminatory rules and unclear language needs to be removed. There will also be new permit classifications for hotels, caterers, microbreweries, and microdistilleries. 

There has been some controversy about section 1078E, which allows the city to do an “emergency suspension” of a permit. Mr. Sullivan explained that there is a lengthy process of review before permits are suspended. There are about 1450 ABO permits in the city, and there was only one suspension last year. Package liquor stores have typically been the problem businesses, bars not as much. There is need for some clarification as to what triggers a suspension. Mr. Sullivan stressed that the proposed revisions to the laws are an opportunity for public discourse.

Another new addition to the laws regards property owners behind on paying property taxes not being able to get an ABO. A potential issue came to light when a business owner may be renting from a property owner who is behind on taxes, and a provision is planned for those instances.

Safety and Permits can deny a permit. They have already had this power, but an appeals process is being written in. State law does not allow the city to issue a temporary permit during the appeal process. 

Current law requires a manager to be on the premises of a business operating with an ABO at all times, but what is a manager exactly? The new laws will clarify.

An update is also planned for the “300 foot rule”, which states an ABO cannot be within 300 feet of a place of worship, park, or library. (schools too?) There is some debate about how this distance should be measured. Is it the distance a pedestrian would walk, or a 300 foot radius? This rule only applies to bars and package liquor stores, and some places can get grandfathered in. There is also an appeal process. 

Studies were done on the revised laws and it was found that the new rules were more restrictive in some areas, but less restrictive in others. 

An attendee asked about the ABO application process that requires 75% of nearby property owners to approve of the application. What about renters? Mr. Sullivan said a lot of time had been spent trying to find a better way, but it proved complicated. Leases are easily forged, and ID cards may not be up to date. It was suggested that Voter’s Registration cards should be considered, but Mr. Sullivan pointed out there is an ethical issue with a government office requiring a citizen to be registered. It was generally agreed it is unfortunate that renters do not seem to get a voice.

Another attendee asked about the laws regarding ABO applicants with criminal records. The City says you cannot get a permit if you have been convicted of a felony within the last five years. However, the state laws say ten years. You have to have both a City and State permit for an ABO, so it can be a catch 22. The new law states that if and when the state changes their rule to five years the city law automatically will too. 

Mr. Sullivan was thanked for taking time out of his busy schedule to come speak with our group.

Anthony then introduced Brandon Gregoire, who is running for State Senate District 3. Mr. Gregoire told us about his 23 years of active duty as a Marine. Mr. Gregoire is a native New Orleanian, and when he graduated from Jesuit he went to Harvard and then to the Naval War College. He went on to serve 5 tours of duty as an intelligence officer. He has since been working at a charter school and is passionate about education. Mr. Gregoire has endorsements from both sides of the aisle, as well as the Riverfront Alliance. Other candidates for district 3 are John Bagneris, Joseph Bouie, and Kathleen Doody. Mr. Gregoire was thanked for coming to meet our group. 

The meeting ended at 7:55 PM.

Submitted by Tyler Harwood, secretary

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