April 8, 2019

Marietta City Council

City Council Members,

My name is Marc Hyden. My family and I are
longtime Cobb County residents, and I am the Director of State Government
Affairs for the R Street Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy
research organization. Our mission is to engage in policy research and outreach
to promote free markets and limited, effective government in many areas,
including expanding commercial freedom. That’s why we support the creation of an
open-air drinking district in Marietta, Georgia.

Over the past several years, the state of
Georgia has been updating its alcohol policies to bring them in line with the
rest of the country. Indeed, many Georgia cities—Alpharetta,[1] Acworth,[2] Canton,[3] Duluth,[4]
Kennesaw,[5] Powder
Springs,[6] Smyrna,[7]
Savannah,[9] etc.—have
already approved open-air drinking districts, which authorize drinking in
specifically designated areas.

These endeavors go hand in hand with the current national movement to permit open containers in
entertainment areas.[10] While imbibing
in public spaces seems like a modern phenomenon, it’s actually not. It wasn’t
until the mid-1970s that statutes limiting open-air drinking began
to proliferate.[11]
There were many different justifications for these ordinances at the time, but
the most commonly repeated defense today stems from a desire to advocate for
good public health and safety outcomes. These are noble objectives. But perpetuating
certain alcohol-free districts within entertainment areas may do little to dissuade
unhealthy and criminal behavior.

The problem with prohibitions of open-air drinking is that they might
lead to adverse public health effects. The Sport Journal — a peer-reviewed academic periodical — highlighted
that some individuals binge drink before alcohol-free events so that they can
maintain their buzz for the duration of the event. If these people could drink
at the event, then they may not feel the urge to adopt such behavior. Instead,
they could nurse their beverages more responsibly over a lengthier period of

Public safety may improve as well, because there is reason to believe
that open-air drinking districts reduce the frequency of drunk driving. After
all, it’s less appealing to drive from bar to bar when you can walk between
them with a drink in your hand. This could help individuals avoid driving under
the influence and save lives.

Furthermore, the creation of an open-air drinking district in Marietta could
bring about an economic windfall. It is not a coincidence that a host of new open-air
drinking districts have developed across the state.[13] Rather,
it seems that open-air drinking districts are good for business. If they are,
then relaxing unnecessarily strict alcohol ordinances will attract more
development. Beyond this payoff, open-air drinking districts may lure tourists as well as conferences, festivals,
concerts and other events, helping local companies thrive and increasing tax

Ultimately, much of this debate relates to consumer choice and
individual liberty. After all, why should adults be prohibited from safely consuming
alcohol in entertainment areas when there may be fewer adverse effects? They
shouldn’t, and that’s why it is important that the city council approve an open-air
drinking district in Marietta.

Thank you for your

Marc Hyden

Director, State
Government Affairs

R Street Institute

(404) 918-2731

[email protected]

Northam, Mitchell, “Open container rules could expand in this N. Fulton city,”
Atlanta Journal Constitution, May 8, 2017.

“Open Container District,” Acworth Tourism.

Dixon, Kristal, “Canton Approves Downtown Open Container Proposal,” The Patch,
September 7, 2018.

[4] “Duluth
Passes Open Container Ordinance,” WSBTV, October 12, 2010.

Williams, Ross, “Kennesaw approves open container districts,” Marietta Daily
Journal, January 23, 2019.

Dixon, Kristal, “Powder Springs approves open container district,” Atlanta
Journal Constitution, March 5, 2019.

[7] “Smyrna
Approves ‘Carry Out’ Alcohol Policy in Downtown Restaurant District,” Smyrna
Vision, February 20, 2018.

Adgie, Joe, “Stockbridge approves Open Container district,” Henry Herald,
September 11, 2018.

Kefalas, Emilie, “To-Go Cup Takeaway: Savannah’s Open Container Policy,”
Savannha.com, August 1, 2018.

Fung, Easther, “Property Developers Push for Open Drinking on City Streets,”
Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2017.

Satran, Joe, “The Secret History Of The War On Public Drinking,” Huffington
Post, December 6, 2017.

Mitchell, Mark, et. al., “Beer and Ball On Campus? The Issue of In-Stadium
Alcohol Sales,” The Sports Journal, 2014.

Fung, Easther, “Property Developers Push for Open Drinking on City Streets,”
Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2017.

Henderson, Tim, “To boost downtowns, some cities loosen rules on public drinking,”
PBS, October 29, 2016.

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