DeKalb city proposes new drinking rules, public nuisance regulations downtown

Also: City to consider amending code to allow for “free range” drinking downtown on Fridays, Saturdays

El Jimador Mexican Grill Co-owner Olivia Pacheco pours margaritas during DeKalb’s first Cinco de Mayo celebration co-hosted by Willrett Flower Co. at Third Street in DeKalb in this Shaw Local file photo on Friday, May 5, 2023.

DeKALB – The DeKalb City Council on Monday will consider a proposal to regulate public nuisance gatherings downtown, prompted, city staff said, by complaints by some related to people drinking and loitering around parking spaces.

The Council is expected to consider an ordinance amending city code at its regular meeting set for 6 p.m. Monday in the Yusunas Room of the DeKalb Public Library, 309 Oak. St.

City staff said the proposal was prompted because of a “concerning practice that has developed in downtown parking locations that is alarming to adults and, in particular, parents of children going to and from several dance studios, the Egyptian Theatre, and other family-centered venues in the downtown area,” staff wrote in documents released ahead of Monday’s meeting.

City staff said “younger adults” have been seen gathering around vehicles and drinking while talking and loitering in driving lanes.

“Beyond the sometimes intimidating behavior, the practice often involves littering the parking areas with empty plastic bottles” which contain liquor, and leaving trash on the ground, city staff wrote.

To remedy the behavior, city staff has asked the DeKalb City Council to approve an ordinance which would give DeKalb police the power to fine those found to be “disruptively intoxicated and belligerent,” a minimum of $500, including court fees, according to city documents.

City code defines nuisance gatherings as with three or more people who exhibiting the following behaviors: unlawfully carrying weapons or firearms, open containers of alcohol; defacing public property; selling alcohol illegally; littering; being disruptive; fighting; committing assault, battery, criminal damage to property; or public urination.

Weekend nighttime drinking downtown?

Also at Monday’s meeting, the City Council is expected to consider whether to allow those 21 and older to drink outside of businesses and along specific downtown streets on Friday and Saturday nights, documents show.

Proposed updates to city code call it “Free Range” Drinking, according to a proposal outlined by city staff up for Council vote.

In a social media news release, staff said the changes were prompted due to multiple successful downtown DeKalb events in 2023, and in an attempt to encourage a vibrant downtown night life.

Downtown DeKalb successfully hosted a Cinco de Mayo celebration last year, along with additional events recently including a Sweet Stroll, which allowed for adults to imbibe responsibly and in specific city blocks downtown while perusing downtown shops.

If approved, City Council would create a downtown “Entertainment District,” which would allow those 21 ad older to have one alcoholic beverage in a special cup while walking between First and Fourth Street and Locust Street and the south line of buildings on the south side of Lincoln Highway.

Free range drinking would be allowed from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, according to the proposal. If approved, drinks would be provided in a plastic, branded cup. Cans, bottles and other glass containers would be prohibited. The cups would not be allow in parking lots, parks and in the streets except crosswalks.

Business would not be required to participate in the Entertainment District, according to city documents.

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