Sunday alcohol sales to be debated in D.C.

There's no legislation pending, but D.C. councilmember Jim Graham continues to explore the idea of allowing Sunday liquor sales.

Tuesday, he got an earful from opponents, many of whom were liquor store owners.

"This isn't about what's good for the retailers. This is about what's good for the people of D.C.," Northwest D.C. resident Jack McKay said.

Graham heard from opponents and supporters during a public roundtable on his idea to lift the District's ban on Sunday liquor sales.

Liquor store owner Jon Genderson said, " We wouldn't be getting additional business. We'd just be spreading the business all out, so we'd have all of these expenses of being open another day without the benefit of a lot more revenue."

They also fear big box stores will become one-stop-shopping for food and liquor seven days a week.

"We would probably cease to exist, because you'd have all of these chains coming in. They'd have greater buying power, and it would really do a lot of harm to us," Genderson added.

Meanwhile, advocates for recovering alcoholics said Sunday sales will result in more addiction and abuse.

Robert Fleming, with D.C. Recovery Community Alliance, said, " There are all of these social effects that cost us far more than the price of a drink."

Graham proposed the idea weeks ago as an alternative to extending bar hours in D.C. to close a budget shortfall. Since that matter has been resolved with a compromise, Graham said his idea is no longer about revenue but regulatory policy.

"The question is why? What is the justification for saying these sales should not occur? I'm hard pressed to find what that justification is," Graham asked.

On Sundays, alcohol regulators said D.C.'s 220 Class A liquor stores would generate an estimated $710,000 in sales tax each year. They've given Sunday sales their stamp of approval, calling it not "that big of an issue."

Fred Moosally, with the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, a, "You can already buy beer and wine for off premise sales on Sundays. You can already go on premise and buy beer, wine and spirits on Sundays."

Graham said he wants to study the issue further, but he could introduce legislation as soon as next month.

{ }