Single Can Liquor Ban Thoughts

IMG_5693, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

Alright, tell me if I’m crazy. So the single can ban has been in effect a few months now. I’m wondering if we’ll see more empty cans or less. To date I haven’t seen much difference but I think we may see even more litter as a result. Here is my reasoning, if people can’t by 40 ouncers then they’ll by cheap 12 oz can six packs, right? So that’s six cans vs. two bottles, roughly. That makes sense, no? So have you guys noticed any positive or negative effects as a result of the single can/bottle alcohol ban?  (Ed. note: despite my convoluted theory I still support the ban, for the record.)

12 Comment

  • I still think we need better recycling and litter laws and not all these attempts to control consumption. There should be no reason that bars don’t open at 6 am. And that liquor stores don’t stay open until 2 am or midnight at the very least. And get rid of the food requirement and have real bars. If it works in California, it can work here.I don’t want people eating where I’m drinking. And preferably, I’d like to be drinking at home. And be able to run out for more at 11 pm and not have to go to another state or a different part of town. DC was one of the last places to move to 21. We’ve gone 180 degrees and lost what made DC fun — easy access to alcohol, easy access to clubs. Come on DC put the fun back: bring back the edge. Tell these suburbanites we don’t want them and their morals in the city.

  • Well the ban is only Ward 4 correct? That’s nothing. Look at GA ave just south of the metro station. There is an liquor store every block!

  • I think the ban is less about litter and more about trying to control public drinking. Interestingly, curbing public drinking might be one of the few “broken windows” policies that actually impacts crime due to the close correlation between heavy drinking and the eruption of violence. One interesting tidbit from NYC in the ’90’s is that the sales of liquor, particularly hard liquor, plummeted at the same time violence subsided. I’m not sure what the reasoning put forward at the time of the ward 4 ordinance’s passage, but I’d bet it was aimed more at curbing public consumption rather than litter. That being said, there is still a lot of hanging out and drinking on Upshur in the evenings — I’m honestly not sure what the law in DC is, in most cities you are technically not supposed to drink on the corner, but most coppers overlook smokehounds and their paper-bag tipple since it is the least of their concerns.

  • You’ll never control litter until the Council passes a deposit-return bottle bill.

    And they’ll never pass a bottle bill. Thank you, American bottlers’ lobby.

    As for the late night club/bar hours, good luck. Between the churchies who’d rather DC went dry, and the greying hipsters who need their beauty sleep. don’t hold your breath for all-nite liquor access.

  • I grew up in Michigan where there is a 10 cent deposit on each can or bottle. It’s a pain to pay initially but you don’t see any bottles or cans laying around. People generally keep them for the refunds and the ones that are tossed are picked up by people trying to get money.

  • Marc Fisher has on his blog an interesting history of 1987 attempt to pass a bottle bill. I remember hearing about this when I moved to DC in 1989. Opponents of the bill somehow managed to turn the ballot proposal into a racial issue. Anywhere but DC this would seem rather strange. In DC it is to be expected.

    Here’s a link to Fisher bottle bill discussion:

  • It would be very difficult to pass a bottle bill in D.C.

    I grew up in Michigan, as well. One of the reasons that Michigan’s bottle bill works is because–aside form the Upper Peninsula–they only have shared borders to the south. And even with this strategic advantage, they still have had to deal with bottle-fraud rings from the states closeby. Many of the cans and bottles from the major beverage companies (Coke, Pepsi, Miller, etc.) have special bar codes to distinguish their being sold in MI.

    If DC were offering 10 cents per can/bottle, how often would carloads of bottles and cans drive in from MD, VA, WV, etc. and leave with DC tax money? Unless bordering states were in on the deposit, there would be no way to police the system.

    If there was a way to do it, I’d be an advocate though. Outside of the litter problem, it also promotes recycling.

  • Note: I left out a major point from above.

    While the major bottling companies have the tailored bar codes, microbrews, imports, etc. do not. Used to be lots of Heineken bottles flowing through MI.

  • another tidbit from NYC in the 90’s: did you see the study that gives credence to the theory that Guiliani had less to do with the drop in crime than he likes to think? This guy studied the correlation of the drop in violent crime to the abatement of lead paint in buildings…

    new york state bottle return/bar codes cover most of the major brands now, even heineken. I personally enjoy going to the corner and buying one bottle of beer for the evening.

  • Most of Guiliani’s police proposals can’t really be correlated directly to the crime drop — cities like San Diego, which didn’t implement that type of strong-arm policing and didn’t increase the police force size, still had similar crime drops in the ’90’s.

  • yeah. because of lead abatement?? your’re the one that keep talking about “broken windows”. what if all this violence can be attributed to the decreases in lead poisoning(which is often self medicated through alcoholism- there goes the drop in alcohol consumption) and the current problems can also be traced to lead poisoning? Wouldn’t that discredit all of your proposed measures?

  • “All of my proposed measures”?

    I just want the police in DC to PATROL and do an effective job. I am, under no circumstances, suggesting that DC implement the “quality of life” harassment BS that NYC did. In fact, I have consistently said that “all hands” weekends, roadblocks, and other feel-good, temporary measures are pointless in the face of a police force that has no positive connection to the citizens. I’ve consistently said that NYC-like “compstat” and “broken windows” policies are basically unproven measures (which is different from saying they have no positive points at all, BTW).

    What I have said, over and over, is that DC police just need to get the BASICS down — like engaging the community instead of being an inconsistent occupying force. I don’t know where you get that I support “broken windows” policies. That’s contrary to everything I’ve ever said on the subject.

    Even so, it is true that simply pouring police on the streets does have an effect, and while it’s not the best answer and creates other problems, the rates for offenses committed in public spaces (including murders) in NYC did go down at a quicker rate compared to other cities when the ranks of the police on the beat were increased. There is a statistical correlation between increased, consistent patrols and crimes committed in public places. So, while Rudy can take some small credit, it’s just not the whole story. For instance, increased patrols alone wouldn’t have made much of a dent if demographics, immigration, drug use patterns, and other factors were not also present — none of which had anything to do with Giuliani’s programs.

    As far as the lack of lead poisoning causing a crime drop, how is that not a logically fallacy? The absence of lead shouldn’t definitively suggest that its *absence* was the cause of crime falling. You might as well say the eradication of parachute pants and bandannas tied around the ankles caused crime to drop, or that the fading popularity of heavy metal music meant less violence. Alcohol, on the other hand, was (and is) clearly a factor in violence and there are statistics, both from arrestees and autopsies of victims, that show alcohol’s clear relationship to violence.

    Second, exposure to lead doesn’t equal lead poisoning. This theory makes a illogical leap tantamount to me pointing out that in 100% of the cases of murder the killer was exposed, at some point, to water, and therefore water exposure is the common denominator. This poorly researched news story also mentions a study of children with *SHOCK! HORROR!* four times more lead than another… er… group of children! What were the levels in these juveniles? Four times what? Were any of these children sick or, in another words, lead poisoned? If the control kids had 1PPM of lead and the lil’ crooks had 4PPM what is the real, documented effect of such a level? What are the other characteristics of these two groups of children? Were they from the same neighborhood? The same schools? Did they all come from single-parent families? Did they all come from the same economic and social class? White? Black? Girls? Boys? 11 years old? 17 years old? Peg legs? Stutterers? Did they dress like Rerun? I mean, I know that Dr. Smartypants says it’s all about the lead, but could it be something else? Thanks WaPo for giving us… er… nothing.

    Third, Dr. Jerkoff doesn’t even try to explain why the violent crime rate is headed back up now whereas, credible evidence suggests demographics (i.e. more boys 15-30) and economic factors are in opposition to their trends in the mid-90’s. According to Dr. Idiotface, violence spikes trend 20 years after a exposure, so that means to explain rising crime rates TODAY there must have been a spike in lead poisoning in the late ’80’s? Weeell, no. He offers a ham-handed “crime has leveled off, hurrumph”. Really? Not according to statistics (good job citing FACTS, WaPo!), crime is UP, especially violent crime, which is up 4% over the last few years. He sluffs this off because, after all, the fact that there is a new spike in violent crime hurts his theory. Don’t mind the man behind the curtain, Anon. Just repeat after me: “it’s the lead, it’s the lead, it’s the lead…”

    While the lead abatement theory is interesting, in the same way the legal abortion theory (that many lil’ criminals were aborted since Roe, thus the crime rate fell) is interesting, such a cause doesn’t clearly follow to the conclusion of a crime impact.

    There isn’t any evidence presented that lead abatement had any more to do with the crime rate dropping than Bon Jovi’s tragic record sales decline (“the horror!”).

    Attributing such a result puts Giuliani’s critics firmly in the same camp with… Giuliani, who also makes un-substantiated claims about crime. There are a myriad of factors that cause crime rates to go up and down, some clear and some not, and trying to pin this on any one magic bullet, whether that’s Rudy’s “get tough” policies or Dr. Dillweed’s “theory” is comforting, simple, and not supported by any evidence.

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