The Philadelphia Progressive Democratic Caucus has a message for Harrisburg: You can pry our pop-up beer gardens from our cold dead hands. They’ve started a petition to push back against “concerned” lawmakers who are trying to ruin everyone’s summer.

The pop-up controversy started last week when Daily News’ Don Russell ruined everyone’s day and pointed out that the spontaneous outdoor taprooms were, seemingly, exploiting a loophole in Pennsylvania’s arcane liquor laws.

Basically, because of a combination of stupidity and bureaucracy, an opportunity exists allowing for establishments to work around the complex and costly process of obtaining and standard liquor license and, instead, get a discount license. That alternative liquor license “is an unforeseen product of a 2012 liquor code amendment crafted by the legislature,” explained Russell, “to make it easier for licensees to cater one-day private events. But thanks to the PLCB’s curious reading of it, the amendment can be exploited to open a full-time bar with little regulatory oversight.”

These discount licenses have allowed for free flow of commerce, and ale, in Philadelphia on a temporary, seasonal basis by way of these pop-up beer gardens.

“Pop-up gardens have been a huge hit the past few summers,” says the Philadelphia Progressive Democratic Caucus on its petition, “providing Philadelphians with beautiful outdoor venues to enjoy their summer evenings with great local food, beer, and community, and breathing new life into vacant lots and underutilized public spaces like the Delaware waterfront and Eakins Oval.”

They’re right, too. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has a pop-up garden in an empty lot at 15th and South streets that’s open ten hours a day, seven days a week. PHS says that “programs and special events are planned at the garden throughout the summer and early fall, including movie nights, Quizzo, and boot camp-style workouts!”

Naturally, because everyone in Philadelphia is very happy with the situation, a few moronic state lawmakers have decided to put a stop to it. As the state Legislature has tried to tell us time and again, there’s nothing worse than friends shaking hands, saying ‘How do you do?’

Just a few days after Russell’s column, the Daily News had to report that state Reps. John Taylor (R-Philadelphia) and Paul Costa (D-Allegheny) along with state Sens. Chuck McIlhinney (R-Bucks) and Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) started to wring their hands disingenuously. In their stupid letter, which is in fact very stupid, sent to the PLCB, the legislating fiends (who get paid nearly $100,000 annually to do this, just FYI) express “grave concern” that the PLCB has opened a Pandora’s Box leading to society’s ruin.

Surely the lawmakers’ concern trolling isn’t actually a veiled effort to protect existing interests over the interests of average Philadelphians. That would be really awful and terrible. Thank god that’s not the case.

Supporting the pop-up beer garden concept, the Philadelphia Progressive Caucus started circulating the petition online this week.

The petition already has a couple of thousand signatures and can be viewed (or signed) here.



About The Author

Contributing columnist

Josh Kruger is an award-winning writer and commentator in Philadelphia. His @PhillyWeekly column, “The Uncomfortable Whole,” took the 2014 First Place Spotlight Award for weekly newspaper commentary from the Society of Professional Journalists and the 2014 Second Place Award for weekly newspaper commentary in the United States and Canada from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia. He also blogs daily for PW on various topics including queer culture and news, mass transit, politics, crime, drugs, HIV/AIDS, civil liberties, activism, media and everything else Philly.

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