A task force's call for more strident penalties for New Mexico bars has been answered [News Feature, "Strong Medicine," July 6-12]. On Aug. 10, Gov. Bill Richardson announced amendments to the Liquor Control Regulations that tightened the rules, though it's not quite the squeeze many bar owners were fearing.
Under the new rules, three citations in 12 months for selling alcohol to an intoxicated person or to a minor will result in a mandatory revocation of the liquor license and a $10,000 fine. The state used to require five violations before revoking a license.
The changes also allow for a blood-alcohol test taken one hour and 30 minutes after the patron bought their last drink to be used as evidence. That’s 30 more minutes tacked on to the old rule.
Additionally, neither a license holder nor the bar's employees are allowed to drink while on duty. They also can't be at their place of work while intoxicated, even if off-duty. There are two exceptions: If a manager is examining a beverage a customer has complained about, he or she can test the drink. And before business hours, workers can consume alcohol for "product training and evaluation purposes, but must not become impaired," according to the revised rules.
The news isn't all bad for license holders who spoke against the harsher rules while they were being considered. One dreaded alteration isn't part of the overhaul. The change would have prevented license holders and workers from being able to contest evidence used as the basis for a citation. That revision didn't pass.
University Neighborhood Fights Developer
John Gates dropped off a petition with more than 450 signatures at the Environmental Planning Commission last week. Residents in the University area aren't happy about plans to knock down several buildings in Harvard's Brick Light District [News Feature, "And They All Fall Down," July 27]. The Harvard Mall Partners, who own the strip, are planning a mixed-use, 42-unit apartment complex with about 7,500 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. The project is slated to be built in the area between Winnings Coffee and NMPIRG. They expect to begin construction at the end of the year.
"I'm not really opposed to development, per se," says Gates. "But I think this development will diminish and destroy the character of that neighborhood."
Gates, who lives nearby on Cornell, wrote the petition when he found out about the Harvard Mall Partners' plans and began going door-to-door. After a little more than an hour, he had 50 signatures, he says. There was so much interest in his petition at Winnings Coffee, he left it there.
The petition outlines two concerns. The building that houses the Petra Café and Restaurant, which would be torn down under the plan, is one of the last examples of old Spanish pueblo-style architecture, Gates says. It's not on the historic register, though Gates believes it should be considered.
Another concern, he says, is that area residents have not been contacted by the University Heights Neighborhood Association regarding the development. "The developers made the assertion that they have the support of the association, and that's technically correct. But do they have the support of the neighborhood? I think that's not really apparent."
Architect Doug Heller, who's working on the project, told the Alibi that the developers have been discussing the project with the neighborhood association for three years to get input on what the complex should look like. As a result, pedestrian-friendly areas were planned, among other things. But Gates says the University Heights Neighborhood Association developers spoke with doesn't represent the entire community.
The Environmental Planning Commission will hear the issue on Thursday, Aug. 17, at a meeting scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. in the basement of the Plaza Del Sol building on the corner of Roma and Second Street. The item is 11th on a list of 21 for consideration that day. For more information, go to the city's website: cabq.gov/planning/epc.