PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WTXF) - Philadelphia City Council voted 14-3 Thursday, for legislation that aims to crack down on so-called “beer delis” that have become in nuisance in some city neighborhoods.
Thank you to the community members, residents and activists who showed up and showed out! Thank you to my colleagues in @phlcouncil. We did it! Bill No. 170963 also known as the Restaurant Licensing Bill has been passed!— Cindy Bass (@cindybassphilly) December 14, 2017
Link: Bass's bill
But the legislation that passed, backs away from an outright demand that store owners remove the bullet-proof glass separating them from their customers.
Inside a packed City Council chamber, storeowners-- mostly Asian-American-- pleaded for the right to keep the bullet-proof barriers.
"I was the victim of a robbery when I was ten years old,” said one store owner, “and I don't want that to happen again."
"If you took the bullet-proof glass from our store,” said another store owner through an interpreter, “there will be more people die."
Critics of the stores blasted them as predatory-- places where vulnerable neighborhood residents are taken advantage of.
"This bill is bigger than (barriers)” said one man. “This bill is about responsibility and accountability-- two words Stop-N-Go owners never had to live up to."
The legislation calls for tighter rules on seating, public restrooms and what can be sold at these stores.
The original bill did, in fact, demand that bullet-proof glass separating merchant from customer, be removed.
As amended, the bill now merely says the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections has until January of 2021 to develop rules for the "USE OR REMOVAL" of the barriers.
City councilman David Oh said even that went too far, endangering store owners.
“If we take down the safety glass,” said Oh during a lengthy debate among members that preceded the vote, “they're not changing their business model. They're not moving. What they will do is purchase firearms. I think that is a worse situation than what we have today."
But the bill's sponsor, Cindy Bass, railed against stores that she says sell beer and shots of liquor to already inebriated customers, sell loose cigarettes to minors, while doing nothing to deter loitering and public urination outside their establishments.
"Masquerading as restaurants,” said Bass, “they sell almost everything you need to get high, and if they don't have it, someone loitering inside or outside, has the rest."