On Tuesday, June 9, voters in unincorporated areas of the county will vote on a measure that would permit restaurants in those areas to apply for beer and wine licenses.
While this sounds perfectly reasonable at first glance, and I understand the desire for some restaurants to be able to offer beer and wine to their clients, it may not seem so reasonable when placed in a wider context.
Let me spell out why I think voters should turn down this proposal.
Law enforcement--the sheriff's department--as it is now constituted is inadequate to handle the growing load of problems in the South Mesilla Valley. Response times are slow, complaints run high, there is a serious and growing gang problem especially in Anthony, and the area is about to explode with growth from the spillover of the $5 billion expansion of Ft. Bliss. With more liquor being sold these law enforcement problems will inevitably get even worse. Roadblocks will be more prevalent, accidents are likely to increase, and weekends are likely to be more taxing for the sheriff's office, which is already under strain.
As I understand it, one restaurant in the South Valley that has pushed for this measure had a full liquor license. They sold it and now want it back. But public policy should take into consideration not only the benefit to the restaurant and their potential clients, but also to the public costs of this measure, which I believe outweigh the private benefits to the restaurant.