SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — First the Lucky Lady Casino withdrew it’s request for an alcohol license renewal. Then a nearby store’s request was turned down.
It’s part of ongoing discussions over reducing crime in that part of town, with some city councilors questioning whether the businesses are in a “suitable location” to sell alcohol.
This is not the first time this issue has come up in the city when it comes to a place losing a license based on its location and crime. A convenience store near the Bishop Dudley House was stuck in a similar situation three years ago.
Walia Convenience Store now sits empty after losing its liquor license in 2019 after it fell under scrutiny for selling high-potency alcohol to vulnerable people.
Since it was close to the Bishop Dudley House and The Banquet, places that serve the city’s homeless population, the decision of if it was a “suitable location” to sell alcohol came easy for Councilor Curt Soehl.
“Those two things in combination made it a bad location,” he said.
As for Tuesday night’s vote, Soehl was the only one that voted in favor of the renewal for La Tapatia — a store that sells only small amounts of beer.
“Suitable location for me would mean too close to a school. Do they have enough parking? Do they have a fire evacuation plan? So that, suitable location is what it means to me, so did it not hit any of those criteria for me to deny their license,” he said.
Councilor Marshall Selberg, who voted against the renewal, says Tuesday night’s decision was “heartbreaking” for the business owners but that a “precedent has been set” in that area.
“It’s kind of the wrong place at the wrong time, but the idea is to start cleaning up that block and neighborhood where the drug use and the alcohol use is rampant. And to do that, you need to clean up the sources of the alcohol at least to start making a dent in it,” Selberg said.
As the decisions for renewals come up, they want to take care of them one at a time, but what else can be done to help the problem?
“I think our police forces paid a lot of attention to that area. They’ll continue to and probably, you know, you’d hate to say step it up because I think they have,” Selberg said.
“I don’t have a grand plan for that. I will take it as it comes and hopefully we will clean it up, but I will say, I’m not interested in moving problems from one location to another location, so if that’s what ends up here, I will be very disappointed,” Soehl said.
Council members commend not only the nearby citizens for stepping up, but also the business owners under fire the last couple weeks for being professional and part of the discussion.
“It makes you admire those type of people even more, because if we were all in that similar circumstance, it’d be easy to be bitter and act differently, and it was very kind of noble to see how they all stepped up,” Selberg said.
As for other businesses in the same area, councilor Rich Merkouris says they are looking at legal options “to pull any other liquor or alcohol licenses sooner rather than later.”