While the Miami Beach City Commission wants to reduce the distance between new package liquor stores, there is a market-based dilemma of doing that. Existing stores (which are grandfathered in) increase in value and, with fewer stores, can increase prices.
At second reading of an ordinance to increase the minimum distance of separation for package liquor stores from the current 300 feet to 1,500 feet, Commissioner Ricky Arriola added a friendly amendment to allow an applicant to file for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) through the Planning Board if they want to open a liquor store within 1500 feet – but no less than 700 feet – from another liquor store.
Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez agreed, “Otherwise you’re giving these liquor stores full license to inflate their prices and it’s going to become ridiculous.”
Arriola added, “I’m asking for the amendment so that we don’t lock in the bad actor liquor stores and give them a franchise, a monopoly to operate.” He said he wants to allow for competition that will “hopefully drive out or improve the behavior of some of these bad actor liquor stores.”
The item’s sponsor, Commissioner Joy Malakoff, expressed concerns. “What we originally were proposing was instead of having package liquor stores on every block in the City and across from each other, of putting them four blocks apart as new ones might open. What this is doing is going back and allowing a package liquor store to open within a block and a half of another one,” she said. “I understand that we don’t want to make the existing ones so valuable that they can just keep continuing since this is a prospective regulation, but I’m not sure we want to go back to having them every block, every block and a half.”
The item was opened and continued and scheduled for second reading in May with the amended language.
New Design standards approved for package liquor stores
The Commission did approve on second reading new guidelines for package liquor store displays. Planning Director Tom Mooney said the new guidelines prevent stores from stacking large boxes and filling up storefronts.
Commissioner Malakoff added, “This is prospective so it does not affect existing package liquor stores, however, I will ask the administration to send a very nice friendly letter to all of our existing package liquor stores who do stack their items … their boxes of liquors at the front door, in the window to ask them voluntarily to meet our new regulations as far as is feasible.” While she acknowledged some permanent items such as coolers cannot be moved, she said the letter to existing stores should request “at least as far as possible, to remove the egregious signage and huge boxes of liquors from their windows [which] would really beautify the blocks on which the liquor stores are located.” Although such a request does not legally bind existing stores to meet the new regulations, Malakoff said she wanted to ask them to voluntarily meet it.
The ordinance was approved and now goes into effect.
Package store separation and display guidelines:
balance between more or less