Boulder officials consider changing alcohol rules on the Hill

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(Photo: MGN Online/Andy Post)

BOULDER, Colo. — City council members will consider a set of new land-use regulations for a second time Tuesday night, which are designed to limit the impact of alcohol over-consumption on Boulder’s popular University Hill.

The ordinances on the council’s agenda include creating a distinction between low and high-intensity alcohol establishments on the Hill, and amending the 500-foot waiver allowing liquor licenses to be issued near the University of Colorado Campus to only sell beer and wine.

According to the Daily Camera, Boulder’s current land-use code regulates restaurants and taverns as similar establishments, while some restaurants end their food services and convert into tavern-like establishments late at night.

Changes to current land-use codes would also discourage full-service liquor licenses near residential areas. However, high-intensity uses would still be allowed in areas where police are already focused on addressing impacts of alcohol and promoting safety, and “where impacts to residential areas would be less,” according to a City Council memo.

Local business owners worry that the proposed changes will discourage new businesses from opening in the area. Others say that students in the area will find a way to drink anyway, with or without the new ordinances.

Mark Heinritz, the owner of The Sink restaurant at 1165 13th St. told the Camera that more studies need to be done in order to find out whether the land-use changes would actually curb alcohol over-consumption.

“They haven’t been substantiated yet,” Heinritz told the Camera. “We don’t know if they will help or hurt or make no difference. We really don’t have anything more than opinions. We need to do some analysis and have some due diligence.”

Others mention that the proposed regulations could make it worse for neighboring communities when options become fewer for those on the Hill.

“The reality of it is, kids are going to find a way to drink,” said Mike Absalom, president of the Boulder Responsible Hospitality Group.

“With these new regulations in town, if students want a drink at 11 or 12 at night, instead of having a beer or two at a business, they are going to go buy a 30-pack and drink in their friend’s basement,” Absalom said.

Boulder’s city planner Karl Guiler said the city realizes the proposed ordinances would only be part of addressing the booze problem on the Hill.

“I think that’s something we’ve been saying all along, that we can’t expect regulation changes to solve this problem of over-consumption alone,” he told the Camera. “It has to be done in unison with a lot of other approaches: enforcement, regulation, education and outreach. This is just one component.”

The City Council will discuss the land-use changes at 5 p.m. Tuesday.