Brown Jug is working with the Mountain View Community Council to restrict sales at two liquor stores in the neighborhood, council board members and company representatives announced Monday.
The business also now hopes to close its Red Apple location by the end of the year, said Erika Wilburn, operational excellence manager for Brown Jug in Alaska.
The announcements follow years of requests and resolutions by the MVCC, which has repeatedly asked the Anchorage Assembly to weigh in on the liquor store’s land use permits and liquor license. Brown Jug, owned by Liquor Stores USA North Inc., operates two stores in Mountain View — one next to Red Apple, the other two blocks away on Klevin Street — and some residents and business owners say the stores contribute to problems with public inebriation, loitering and petty crime in the neighborhood’s main commercial corridor.
“These public domain and right of way spaces are under threat because of the population attracted by this operator,” read a handout distributed at the March 12 community council meeting.
Last year, the community council again asked the Anchorage Assembly to hold a public hearing on the stores’ liquor licenses. On Feb. 27, MVCC Treasurer Daniel George testified on behalf of the council, asking the Assembly to place restrictions on the stores’ licenses, or to modify their land use permits. The hearing is set to continue March 20, and a special work session is scheduled to take place March 16 at 2 p.m. at City Hall.
Meanwhile, the community council is working with Brown Jug to reach a separate resolution, council members and Brown Jug management said Monday.
“Our hope is to resolve this without sending it to the ABC Board,” George said. “We’re not asking to have the license shut down — we’re looking for ways that we can implement reasonable conditions in a lasting way.”
After meeting with MVCC board members and local business owners earlier this month, Brown Jug executives presented a proposed memorandum of understanding covering operations at its Mountain View stores. The draft document includes plans to close the Bragaw Street store next to Red Apple “as soon as it is operationally possible,” invest up to $15,000 in improvements at the Klevin Street store, compile a “do-not-serve” list containing the names of customers with addresses at local homeless shelters, open stores at noon and end the sale of products less than 375 ml, fortified wines and six-packs of beer less than $6.
The council board is still reviewing the proposed MOU, George said. On Monday, the council voted to give the board authority to continue negotiations with Brown Jug.
Some neighbors criticized the measures, saying the council should focus its efforts on people perpetuating problem behavior rather than the liquor stores they frequent. Brown Jug gives financial support to the community council and the neighborhood cleanup and operates with a license under stiff regulations, said council member Fred Owen.
“I kind of object to this persecution and continual limitation on a business that is fully licensed and fully regulated,” he said at Monday’s council meeting. “They’ve tried to accommodate us in every form and fashion.”
Wilburn, who represented Brown Jug along with two local store managers at the Monday council meeting, addressed the council only briefly, listening to the discussion from a seat in the back and staying through to the end of the two-hour meeting to take questions from residents. Other Brown Jug locations in Anchorage operate under various land use permit restrictions, and the company hoped to reach a voluntary agreement to enact similar measures in Mountain View, she said.
“It’s heartbreaking to listen to the testimony of your community,” she said at Monday’s council meeting. “We do want to do what’s best for the people of the neighborhood.”
Update: Mountain View Community Council board members and Brown Jug executives signed a Memorandum of Understanding March 16. Click here to read the full document.
On one hand, I hear what Fred Owen is saying about a legal business that follows the rules. On the other hand, what always chapped my hide a bit is that neighborhoods like Inlet View and Turnagain long ago decided they didn’t like liquor stores and the collateral damage their presence tends to engender — and got rid of them all. And Fairview, Mt. View and Spenard were never really given the same consideration or opportunity. It’s about fairness, isn’t it? One neighborhood shouldn’t be exempt — whether we’re talking about liquor stores, subsidized housing, social support services, road expansions — or any other sort of tacit redlining that occurs through one process or another.