After months of public hearings, debates, an outpouring of letters and a previous failed vote in December, the OLCC passed a landmark change on Friday that could allow minors greater access to venues previously off limits to them. Starting in June some businesses that serve alcohol, such as music venues, that are interested in allowing access to minors at all hours can now submit control plans that must specify exactly how they will keep alcohol out of the hands of minors.
After months of public hearings, debates, an outpouring of letters and a previous failed vote in December, the OLCC passed a landmark change on Friday that could allow minors greater access to venues previously off limits to them.
Starting in June some businesses that serve alcohol, such as music venues, that are interested in allowing access to minors at all hours can now submit control plans that must specify exactly how they will keep alcohol out of the hands of minors. Previous longstanding rules placed businesses in the realm of either “restaurant” or “drinking establishment,” leaving no middle area for venues such as concert halls or movie theater pubs.
The decision was met with rousing applause and many in the audience sported grinning faces.
At the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s morning hearing, many came to show support for the new “minor postings” rules, which establishes when and where minors can be in the presence of alcohol in an establishment. One by one, high schoolers, nightclub proprietors and others, lined up to advocate for rule changes.
Some say that the new rule changes are a step in the right direction and will help strengthen the Oregon music scene by allowing youth the opportunity to experience more live concerts and even give them the chance to take the stage themselves in venues they have previously been unable to perform at or attend.
An outpouring of support
Before the OLCC moved to vote on the amendment, the floor was turned over to the public to give testimony. Several members of the local music community, including venue owners and local musicians, signed up to speak in support of the proposal to the commissioners.
A letter, penned by Portland Commissioner Sam Adams and read by his Senior Policy Director Jesse Beason, spoke in favor of policy changes that would encourage Oregon’s youth to participate more actively in the community.
“I am committed to doing all that I can to being a partner in their implementation,” Adams wrote.
Kris Robison, co-owner of the Someday Lounge and Backspace, also spoke in favor of the changes to the rules and lamented the lack of youth in the Portland music scene.
“This town is ready for this,” he said.
The speakers list was comprised entirely of citizens in favor of the changes, which is unusual at OLCC hearings, said OLCC Commissioner Christine Lewandowski. She said before the vote that she felt the lack of opposition to the proposed changes was due in large part to the extra care the drafters put in to elaborating on the previous proposal, which failed in December. When it failed, Commissioners asked that it be reworded to make it clearer.
Directly after Fridays vote, Joshua Olmstead–a representative for the Multnomah Youth Commission and long-time supporter of the amendment–said he was happy with the outcome and agreed that the writers of the proposal were key to the rule’s passing.
Since the first public hearing to discuss the rule changes in November, and after the first vote on the changes in December, the proposed amendment has continued to receive a great deal of support from the community.
The new minor postings rules will go into effect June 1. Christie Scott, spokeswoman for the OLCC, said the length of time that it will take for submitted control plans to be approved, depends on a number of factors, including the thoroughness of the submitted plan and the complexity of the venue.
Scott said on Monday that while the OLCC has not received a flood of queries after Friday’s vote, there have been a few local businesses that have expressed interest in submitted control plans, including Concept Entertainment (owners of the Barracuda) and McMenamins.
Business owners are welcome to submit their control plans whenever they are ready, Scott said, but they will have to wait until June 1 for implementation, regardless of when their plan is approved.
Some in the local music community have called the new rules a victory for the city.
“It’s definitely something that Portland needs,” said Darren Bridenbeck, station manager for KPSU. “It’s long overdue.”