By Lisa Rodriguez
The Kansas City council voted Thursday afternoon to allow more bars into the city's Historic 18th and Vine district.
Councilman Jermaine Reed, who represents the district, sponsored the proposal, which makes it easier to obtain a liquor license in the historic district.
In Kansas City, bars are limited to one liquor license per 1,500 residents who live near the establishment. Reed’s proposal would exempt 18th and Vine from those restrictions, similar to other entertainment districts like Westport or Power and Light.
It passed 10 to 3. Those voting against the ordinance were Alissia Canady, Quinton Lucas and Scott Taylor.
In a statement following the vote, Reed said the proposal will help promote growth in the district.
“This policy change moves 18th & Vine in the right direction, and by bringing in new businesses, we can expect to see an increase in sales and use taxes, earnings taxes, and convention and tourism taxes," Reed said.
But the measure did not have the support of several important stakeholders, namely, church leaders in the district and Reed's fellow 3rd district councilman, Quinton Lucas.
Reed's proposal would also exempt the district from a measure that prohibits bars from opening within 300 feet of a church or school, which has drawn fierce opposition from some church leaders in the area.
That was also the sticking point among councilmembers.
Lucas says it's inconsistent policy to exempt only 18th and Vine — and not all entertainment districts —from this requirement.
Councilwoman Alissia Canady pointed out that churches are an important voice in the area. She said throughout the district's ups and downs that churches have been the one constant.
"When banks have left, when schools have failed, the church has been the constant institution in the black community," Canady said.
Lucas proposed an amendment that would have preserved the first part of Reed's measure (the density requirement) but dropped the part that would exempt 18th and Vine from the church requirement.
It failed on a 7 to 6 vote.