TABC: Dry Areas Should Get Wet in December. But Lawyer Against Citywide Sales Vows a Fight.
Several Friends of Unfair Park have asked: Now that the voters have overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1, allowing for the citywide sale of beer and wine, when, exactly, will retailers begin drenching the dry parts of Dallas? Because, see, Gary Huddleston, the man behind Keep the Dollars in Dallas, told Unfair Park Tuesday night that currently dry Kroger locations wouldn't get wet till February. But Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission officials suggest it could be much earlier.
And so I called TABC spokesperson Carolyn Beck and asked her: What's the time line? Our chat follows.
But earlier today, I also asked Andy Siegel, the attorney repping liquor stores who wanna keep the wet-dry boundaries where they were before Tuesday, if he is indeed going to contest the election results, as he'd promised earlier. To which he just responded via e-mail: "Yes siree. Within 30 days." I asked in a follow-up e-mail what he's planning, to which he replied: "Contest calling & conduct of election."
Oh, boy. Better pour a drink.
At some point today I hope to get Siegel on the phone to talk
about his intentions. Because, says TABC's Carolyn Beck, should he filed a suit contesting the results of the Tuesday's turnout, election code states that once the results are certified by the Dallas City Council -- on November 10, or thereabouts -- "a contest does not change" the outcome of the election. But if Siegel tries to enjoin the city or Dallas County from certifying retailers' applications, or if he tries to enjoin TABC from issuing permits, "of course we'd have to do what the court tells us," Beck says.
But till the legal paperwork's at the courthouse, let's look at how the process will work following the wet-dry results.
Like I said, the council will certify the election results on Wednesday. At which point, Dallas becomes, legally, all-wet. "Today," reminds Beck, "Dallas is still dry."
Then, businesses that want to sell beer and wine in the presently dry parts of town will have to go submit their applications to the city, which will make sure they're not trying to sell alcohol in places off-limits due to zoning restrictions or other "distance regulations" prohibiting the sale of booze near schools and churches and whatnot. The county will also have to sign off on the applications.
"Sometimes cities and counties take a long time to certify," Beck says. "And sometimes they move quickly." And, she notes, the state comptroller will also get involved, checking to see whether applicants' taxes are in order. If not ... outta luck.
"Then it comes to TABC," Beck says. "And there are two tracks an application goes down based on the applicants, which are broken down into 'known' and 'unknown.' Known applicants go through a speedier process. They're defined as somebody who currently holds an active TABC license or permit -- and it has to be an entity with the same tax ID permit. Some of the chain stores with permits elsewhere, their applications will go through faster than someone without a permit.
"A known applicant could get a permit within weeks of their giving us their applications; some unknowns could take longer. It's kind of hard to say how long, but currently we issue permits at an average of 45 days after the completed certified application comes to us. We hope to get that done as close to that, but we'll have more application than usual."
Indeed, TABC expects thousands.
Long story short: Expect the so-called knowns to get their permits around Christmas, Beck says, "barring any complications." The unknowns may have to wait till February, give or take. But Beck clarifies: Permits, of course, will be issued in between December and February as well.
"We have known this was coming and known there would be applications turned in en masse, so we're preparing to shift our resources to handle those applications," she says. "We should be able to handle it in a reasonable amount of time, though everyone has their own definition of reasonable."