City reviews rules on alcohol at parks

By Jane Stebbins, Pilot staff writer September 03, 2013 10:19 pm

Currently, one of legal age can walk into a grocery store, buy a bottle of booze, leave the store, uncap the bottle and stroll along Chetco Avenue — no problem; Oregon state law expressly prohibits municipalities from banning such activity.

But don’t take that bottle into Azalea Park lest you risk a $250 ticket.

That irony was a topic the Brookings City Council pondered during a work session Tuesday as it considered relaxing its regulations regarding alcohol in city-owned parks, particularly during events such as concerts and weddings.

“A lot of people said it’d be nice if they could have a glass of wine while out watching a concert,” said Councilor Brent Hodges. “Something other than just sitting and listening. I think it’d be a great thing.”

The topic was brought up by Councilor Bill Hamilton, who said he’s talked with people about the issue and wonders if it detracts from event organizers who would like to hold an event here. Others have wondered how much the ordinance affects couples’ decisions to get married at the Capella by the Sea in Azalea Park.

There are various issues in play, said Police Chief Chris Wallace. They include permitting through the Oregon Liquor Control Commission for events such as concerts, wine tastings and chamber mixers; and changing the city’s ordinance to allow people to bring alcohol to events; among others.

“From a police standpoint, I don’t have a lot of issues with it,” Wallace said. “A lot of people expect to be able to do that.”

“People don’t not go to a concert because they can’t drink wine,” said Council Jake Pieper. “This is the classic example of an ordinance that punishes people who’d be responsible.”

Councilors agreed people who secure a permit to host an event are not typically the rabble-rousers.

“I just don’t want to see a drunk on the tailgate yelling at an umpire,” said Council Brent Hodges.

“But what if there’s a wedding in the Capella, and they want champagne?” queried Mayor Ron Hedenskog. “That’s something very ordinary that can’t happen under this ordinance. I’m willing to go a little further than just licensed events.”

Gold Beach has its wine tasting, and last weekend Bend featured a beer festival that attracted 80,000 people, Hodges said.

“I had the privilege of living in Germany during Oktoberfest,” Hedenskog said. “The intention was to get drunk and stupid — I guarantee you. The beer was really cheap and strong and came in big containers. You got drunk enough to dance to the oompah bands.

“There still were no problems. There’s nothing wrong with being joyous and festive — and responsible.”