KARK 4 News reported this week that officials in North Little Rock are mulling whether or not to permit public drinking in the city’s Argenta District under the state’s new “entertainment district” law.
Act 812 of 2019 by Sen. Trent Garner (R – El Dorado) and Rep. Sonia Barker (R – Smackover) lets cities create “entertainment districts” where open containers of alcohol can be carried and consumed on streets and sidewalks.
Entertainment districts essentially are areas where public drinking and public intoxication are legal. Under this law, an entertainment district could be temporary—such as at an event or festival—or it could be permanent.
Public drinking in entertainment districts raises serious concerns about public safety. Cities like Memphis and New Orleans have had significant problems with violence in their entertainment districts.
North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith told KARK he doesn’t want to “turn our downtown entertainment district into Bourbon Street.”
Unfortunately, that’s going to be tough to do if the city opts to permit public drinking when Act 812 takes effect later this summer.