A proposal to legalize public drinking throughout a large portion of downtown Siloam Springs was soundly defeated at a city board meeting last night.

Six board members voted against the proposal; only one voted for it.

Act 812 of 2019 by Sen. Trent Garner (R – El Dorado) and Rep. Sonia Barker (R – Smackover) lets cities create “entertainment districts” where alcohol can be carried and consumed publicly on streets and sidewalks.

These districts can be permanent or temporary, under Act 812.

City officials in Siloam Springs discussed a public drinking ordinance extensively at their May 5 meeting.

The proposed ordinance would have permitted public drinking throughout much of downtown Siloam Springs.

City officials initially indicated that the ordinance would make it easier for bars and restaurants to offer seating areas outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the ordinance itself actually was more open-ended than that.

Under the ordinance, people would have been able to purchase alcohol to-go in bars or restaurants, and then carry and consume alcohol on sidewalks downtown.

Public drinking would have been allowed from 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM, Thursday – Saturday.

City officials heard overwhelmingly from their constituents on this issue, and they indicated that most of the people who contacted them did not want public drinking in Siloam Springs.

One director said she had heard from 53 people. Another heard from even more. 

Altogether, discussion about the ordinance lasted nearly an hour and a half, but at the end of the night, the city opted not to legalize public drinking — even on a temporary basis.

This is a huge victory against public drinking in Arkansas.

It’s one of the only times that an ordinance like this has been so soundly defeated at a city board meeting.

As we have said time and again, public drinking is a scourge on the community.

It raises serious concerns about drunk driving and public safety.

Public drinking doesn’t attract new businesses or bolster the economy.

It hurts neighborhoods and families.

That’s why Family Council has put together a free toolkit to help citizens oppose these public drinking districts.

Our toolkit contains talking points, information about problems public drinking has caused in other states, photographs of public drinking districts elsewhere around the country, and other resources you can use to fight public drinking in your community.

Click here to download our free toolkit.

Photo: Brandonrush / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)