HOUSTON — Thirsty? How about a tall glass of local politics?
Even though prohibition was repealed over 80 years ago, The Heights continues to uphold its ban on booze. But that at all may change on Nov. 8.
Proposition 1 seeks to permit alcohol sales in the area. The current law prevents stores from selling beer and wine and forbids the sale of alcohol in public restaurants. On the ballot for the neighborhood, the proposition could overturn a historic piece of legislation.
More than 100 years ago, Mayor David Barker enacted the ban because he hated all of the saloons popping up on 19th Street, specifically a saloon with a monkey that would ride in on a hot air balloon every Sunday.
But in 2016, why would anyone want to hang on to this old time-y concept?
“Fundamentally, the whole vote is about land use. Do you want to change the use to allow for off premise consumption of beer and wine?” said Bill Baldwin, a leader of the Keep The Heights Dry movement.
Baldwin said the law protects to community from big box grocery stores, gas stations, convenience stores and other alcohol retailers that have historically not been in the neighborhood.
"We want to keep it quirky and unique and not like everything else," Baldwin said. "We want to keep the small town feel. We want the small businesses to be insulated just a little bit to give them a fighting chance.”
Baldwin said he fears if the ban is lifted then many big money corporate retailers will flood into the area and the neighborhood will lose it’s character.
However, more than 1,700 residents have signed the petition to get the bill up for vote and an H-E-B funded PAC called the Houston Heights Beverage Coalition thinks change is a good thing. The organization said nixing the ban will bring a huge financial boost to the area and more consumer choices.
“We have sort of a dead zone of underutilized land.[Lifting the ban] is going to mean economic opportunity for businesses here. It’s going to mean jobs for working families that are in the Heights. It’s going to give us consumer choice that we don’t have,” said Steve Reilley, the leader of the Houston Heights Beverage Coalition.
It looks like there's a lot more than booze at state for Proposition 1, so let's have a toast for the democratic process.