Steamboat City Council votes to allow public consumption of alcohol in mountain base area
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to allow public consumption and possession of alcohol in the mountain base area, Wildhorse commercial district and Old Town Square.
Council had granted the same permission to downtown restaurants and bars earlier in the year, though The Barley Tap and Tavern was originally excluded due to its location in Old Town Square, which is technically private property.
“I think it’s important that we show the same support for the businesses on the mountain area that we do for downtown,” said council member Kathi Meyer.
The measure was enacted as an emergency ordinance, meaning it takes effect immediately despite only going through a first reading. It’s currently written to expire April 31, 2021, though council could choose to extend it.
While council voted on the same ordinance for downtown restaurants earlier in the year, local restaurant owners Justin Keys, owner of The Barley Tap and Tavern, and Mark Stanford, general manager of Truffle Pig, pushed council to extend the initiative because the winter season is vital to restaurant success in Steamboat.
“This service is a lifeline to help us recoup some of what we’re losing,” Stanford said.
December business alone provides 60% to 70% of Truffle Pig’s revenue, he added.
When the downtown ordinance was passed in July, some members of council expressed concerns over potential increases in alcohol-related crimes, but Steamboat Springs Police Department Chief Cory Christensen said the department has seen no increase.
“We were specifically keeping an eye on that issue and zero problems,” he said. “I anticipate the same level of cooperation on the mountain.”
The ordinance does not permit bringing alcohol from one business into another. It only allows for consumption of beverages that are labeled by the establishment where they were purchased. The ordinance is in effect from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., said City Attorney Dan Foote.
Citizens who spoke to council during the public comment portion of the meeting expressed support for the measure and said they believed it was necessary to help businesses who are unable to operate normally due to COVID-19.
“This is yet another avenue that we can help the bar and restaurant industry try to bring in some extra dollars,” said Steamboat Springs Chamber CEO Kara Stoller. “This will allow people who’ve just come off the mountain and have not thought through their plans for the night to grab a drink and walk around.”
The original downtown ordinance was made possible after Gov. Jared Polis granted local governments the authority over public rights-of-way in June through an executive order, which suspended enforcement of the state statute that limited local government authority over consumption and possession of alcohol beverages in those areas.
Steamboat’s decision came after cities such as Vail, Telluride and Englewood implemented similar ordinances, Foote said.
“It’s gone very well with the downtown area,” said council member Lisel Petis. “To me, this is a very easy thing that we can do to help businesses up at the base area.”
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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