City Government

Council Should Act Responsibly On Drinking Ordinance

Boise officials from the police chief to the Parks Board are on the right track when it comes to backing an ordinance aimed at allowing football fans to wash down their tailgate cuisine with their favorite beverage.

The GUARDIAN is concerned about “equal protection” under the law. The proposed ordinance would allow consumption of alcohol on football game days at designated times and locations. If the University seeks to make rules on the state property, no problem.

However when a law is created for a specific group of people–football fans–we worry about constitutional issues. If its OK to tailgate on football game days, what about basketball game days or bicycle race days? The prohibition against drinking within 300 feet of the river is mostly aimed at float tubers and transients, but it applies to EVERYONE and ALL THE TIME. The issue is problematic as it is an exception rather than a rule.

Thousands of folks used to float the river with a cooler full of beer with no problem, but the practice was banned. Now, they want to allow bare breasted men with faces painted orange and blue to consume beer in the same areas float tubers were banned from drinking! Go figure.

If the proposal becomes law, drinking alcohol will be legal in designated public places surrounding Bronco Stadium between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. on the days of BSU football games. Roughly defined, those areas include the eastern half of Julia Davis Park, and the city blocks between University Drive and Beacon Street, and Broadway Avenue and Joyce Street. A strip between Capitol Boulevard, University Drive and Cesar Chavez Lane (along the south bank of the Boise River) also would be included.

The proposal under consideration by the city council has a logical intent–to cut down on the number of arrests for “open container” violations. It leaves coppers free to do more important duties and also reduces the number of Bronco fans who have a criminal record.

Like “official rules” established for parks, it may be better to simply pass an enabling ordinance which allows consumption in “established zones designated by the city for specific events.” That way, just like a parade permit, the city can establish the booze boundaries and instruct the coppers when to enforce the rules. It would also be much more flexible, enabling the sale of beer at a future baseball park on the off chance voters approve one in Boise.

Violation would be an infraction rather than a misdemeanor and the infraction would be for disobeying a park rule rather than a booze law.

A reader comment cites Idaho Code 67-1613 aimed at the OCCUPY movement that applies to all state property which says in part:
…For the purposes of this section, the term “camp” or “camping” means to use as a temporary or permanent place of dwelling, lodging or living accommodation, and which indicia of camping may include, but are not limited to, storing personal belongings, using tents or other temporary structures for storing personal belongings or for sleeping, carrying on cooking activities, laying out bedding or making any fire. Any person who violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of an infraction…

Another “law of unintended consequences” aimed to prohibit demonstrations against the government, but not demonstrations in support of football. No fires or cooking on the old courthouse property, but OK for football stadium grounds. No temporary shelters or tents at Statehouse or Courthouse, but motorhomes and awnings are OK at stadium parking lots.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. MisterWriter
    Jul 20, 2013, 8:15 pm

    A law that becomes a redundancy is not a law but a mistake. Regulating the consumption of alcohol should be aimed at uniformly preventing an issue. When exceptions are in place the law becomes a confusing mess. It appears this piece of legislation needs to be clear in its goals and not subjectively enhancing the sake of one venue.

  2. Dean Gunderson
    Jul 21, 2013, 12:47 am

    The 2012 Legislature wrote, and the Governor enacted under emergency conditions, Idaho Statute 67-1613.

    Over the objection of several Senators (Republican & Democrat) and the State Board of Education, the statute did not include an exemption for tailgaters at the state-universities; which would allow them to continue to grill hotdogs and hamburgers on the campuses. Under the definitions of this statute, anyone engaged in cooking food (or making any fire to cook that food) will be engaged in “camping”. Further, since the parking lots on campuses are not “recreational camp grounds” there’s no way the SBOE or the university administrations can craft a temporary exemption for this activity.

    So even if a law could be written to permit a fan to throw back a cold one, don’t expect that they can fire up the BBQ — without committing an infraction.

    Of course, BSU’s BPD officers didn’t enforce 67-1613 last season — so why would anyone expect them to enforce (or ignore) any other law that might inconvenient game-day activities?

  3. There is no problem with drinking in the open, including parks. The problem is being drunk and obnoxious. We have laws against being inxoticated in public and for disorderly behavior, seems like those laws should suffice, and people should be able to drink in moderation anywhere they want.

  4. chicago sam
    Jul 21, 2013, 8:07 pm

    The thought police will soon be carrying around ultra-sound analyzers which will measure your body fat to see if you have been eating in moderation.

  5. The law on river floaters and others was a mistake and everyone knows it. Now the problem is to fess up and kill it off. We already have enough laws on the books for just about any circumstance you can imagine.

    We are so over-regulated on things it is time to make a hasty retreat to common sense.

  6. JJ is correct. Why in the “land of the free” do behavioral puritans and micro-managing do-gooders use the Government to regulate private behavior that harms or disturbs no one? Do they even understand or believe in the notion of “freedom”? Apparently not. The activities of law enforcement should focus on violent or obnoxious behavior that threatens others, or disturbs the peace. Drinking alone should not be the issue.

  7. Dean Gunderson
    Jul 22, 2013, 12:18 am

    I wish it were an unintended consequence.

    The legislators who pushed for this statute were very concerned about student groups on campuses — there was an Occupy group at ISU in the initial months of the movement (with tents) and one at UofI (without tents) — and there’s an existing statute that, heretofore, protected Article 1, Section 10 activities on state campuses (on all property owned, or leased, by the State Board of Education). The Idaho Constitution specifically protects peaceful assembly for the the purpose of petitioning for a redress of grievances, instructing legislators, and consultation for the common good (this last one has nothing to do with “elected government” — and these last two purpose statements are rights unmentioned in the Federal Constitution).

    The passage of 67-1613 was done with maliciously intent — with an eye towards circumventing the constitution and other existing statutes. Those who voted for it, and the governor who signed it into law, REALLY didn’t want to adhere to their oaths of office.

    We quibble about beer and BBQ while our fundamental rights are legislated away. But, I suspect the exemptions for Beer Gardens will be put into place, and the “illegal” cookouts will continue to be ignored, but don’t hold up a sign critical of anything (or speak up for change) — since this will look suspiciously like you’re trying to take back your (former) rights.

    Bread and Circuses.

  8. Grumpy ole guy
    Jul 22, 2013, 2:10 am

    The regulators need to re-think this and approach it from the point of view of reality. If the activity brings in bucks for merchants its OK, but is not when it is illegal. Or, more simply Establishment = OK, Good / Anti-Establishment = Not OK, Bad.

    Simple, easy to remember, not hard to interpret grey zones.

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