Drinking on the streets of New Orleans is not going extinct.
A flurry of Facebook and Twitter posts this week have some up in arms about the City of New Orleans’ alleged “war on go-cups” — all of which seemed to stem from a few articles promoting the New Orleans Daiquiri Festival Aug. 17. A petition on Neighborland.com asked go-cups to “remain legal."
But none of the articles pointed to any existing or planned ordinances to remove the city’s open container laws, and there is nothing of that sort in the works, according to Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration. “The City is not pursuing a universal restriction on go-cups,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s press secretary Tyler Gamble wrote in a statement to Gambit.
New businesses applying for a conditional use permit to open a bar, restaurant or venue, however, may be asked by the City Planning Commission (CPC) or the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to restrict or ban go-cups — a policy that has been in place since at least 2007, under the most recent zoning ordinances. That conditional use permit allows a bar, restaurant or venue to open within an area typically not zoned for such uses, like a primarily residential area. It also applies to the arts and cultural overlay district on Freret, where the zoning ordinance for conditional use permits reads, “To-go-cups shall be prohibited for those premises with alcoholic beverage permits.”
[edited for clarification to include the following] The upcoming St. Claude Avenue arts and cultural overlay, however, allows bars to have go-cups, provided they have the bar's logo.
In addition, a bar or venue may also sign a “good neighbor agreement” with the board, CPC and neighborhood organizations that prevents the bar from issuing go-cups. The agreements typically also include a litter abatement program, like adding trash cans.
Those restrictions do not apply to existing businesses, including bars and daiquiri shops, unless they are brought before New Orleans City Council or the alcohol board for violations, such as noise, litter, delinquent taxes or other issues. (Most recently at St. Roch Tavern.)
What about drinker’s rights? The city’s open-container law doesn’t prevent drinking outside a bar unless it’s in a glass or “metal” container: According to the city, “It shall be unlawful for owners of establishments which sell beverages in glass or metal containers in the city to knowingly allow any person to leave the premises of such establishment carrying an opened glass or opened metal container.” And the open-container law means there’s no reason you can’t bring your own go-cup to any establishment, either.