Alders propose expanding Alcohol Overlay District downtown

Three downtown alders are proposing an expansion of the city’s Alcohol Overlay District downtown, which prohibits the addition of any new bars or new liquor licenses within a designated area.

Not surprisingly, a recent study from the city’s Finance Department and the public health department showed that police calls, crime, and building code violations in Madison coincide with areas concentrated with taverns and large groups of people heading into the streets at bar time.

Locally, the costs associated with alcohol-related police calls can more than double on weekends.

If the ordinance — from Alds. Mike Verveer, Patrick Heck, and Sally Rohrer — passes, the proposed Overlay District area would more than double in size from a four- to a nine-block area. It would also be permanent, according to a Wisconsin State Journal report.

In May, a total of 14 downtown tavern owners agreed to add restrictions to their licenses not to allow entry into their establishments on Fridays and Saturdays after 1:30 a.m., or an hour before closing time, joining seven others who agreed to the restrictions in 2018.