How bar concentration is handled in other cities – draft

(This page is a draft, work-in-progress. Some changes and updates coming soon…)

Sometimes it’s suggested that limiting the number of bars that can open in an area is in aomeway anti-urban or anti-nightlife. People who take this position often say “Don’t you want Toronto to be a vibrant exciting city?” and suggest that if you want to live somewhere where nightlife is regulated, you should move to a small town or a suburb.

But we’ve done a lot of research and here’s what we’ve found:

In very big cities around the world, including cities that are world-famous for their nightlife, there are regulations that recognize that overstaturation of bars in an area is a problem, and that limit bar density.

Toronto has no such regulations, allowing an area to turn into a bar monoculture.

Here is a summary of what we’ve found from some other cities:

Note that, in many other cases –anecdotal evidence of what happens in practice may be different from what’s written in law. Some establishments are exempted from regulations for various reasons, some regulations are poorly enforced, or new, etc.

New York City: To prevent saturation, state regulations require specific community approval when bar density exceeds three bars in 500 feet. Municipal regulations greatly restrict areas where bars or restaurants with any dancing can be located. Bans are instituted in areas deemed to be oversaturated.

Los Angeles: To prevent oversaturation, state regulations allow only a certain number of liquor licences to be issued in each county, based on population. A very small number are added each year, based on population growth.

San Francisco: Subject to the same state regulations as in LA, above. Also – in areas deemed oversaturated with bars or restaurants, the city institutes bans on new establishments. Such a back was recently instituted in North Beach, a creative mixed-use area not unlike West Queen West.

Chicago: In some areas, no new bar may be opened within 400 feet of any other bar, limiting bar density. In many areas, no new liquor licenses of any sort are allowed at all.

Berlin: I could not find a lot of details about policy specifics, but reliable sources (see notes) say it has policies to prevent oversaturation. Also, new establishments must submit noise impact reports and prove they will not disturb neighbours.

London: National regulations contain language specifically recognizing the problem of saturation of licensed establishments in an area. When an area is deemed over-saturated, new licenses can be restricted. Many such “cumulative impact areas” have been declared in London.

Montreal: Many areas of the city that allow bars control density by placing a minimum distance between bars. That distance ranges from  50 metres to 200 metres, depending on the area. (A 25 metre limit is enacted in many areas for restaurants)

Toronto and West Queen West: Unlike all the jurisdictions listed above, Toronto is not subject to any regulations at any level of government specifically intended to regulate the density of bars in an area. In all the above cases, where a specific density is specified (New York, Chicago, Montreal) our neighborhood unambiguously exceeds the specified density.

Background, sources, etc

To read more about the background of this research, including links to local regulations, download this document.

New York City: To prevent saturation, state regulations require specific community approval when bar density exceeds three bars in 500 feet. Municipal regulations greatly restrict areas where bars or restaurants with any dancing can be located. Bans are instituted in areas deemed to be oversaturated.Los Angeles: To prevent overstaturation, State regulations allow only a certain number of liquor licences to be issued in each county, based on population. A very small number are added each year, based on population growth.

San Francisco: Subject to the same state regulations as in LA, above. Also – in areas deemed oversaturated with bars or restaurants, the city institutes bans on new establishments. Such a back was recently instituted in North Beach, a creative mixed-use area not unlike West Queen West.

Chicago: In some areas, no new bar may be opened within 400 feet of any other bar, limiting bar density. In many areas, no new liquor licenses of any sort are allowed at all.

Berlin: I could not find a lot of details about policy specifics, but reliable sources (see notes) say it has policies to prevent oversaturation. Also, new establishments must submit noise impact reports and prove they will not disturnb neighbours.

London: National regulations contain language specifically recognizing the problem of saturation of licensed establishments in an area. When an area is deemed over-saturated, new licenses can be restricted. Many such “cumulative impact areas” have been declared in London.

Montreal: Many areas of the city that allow bars control density by placing a minimum distance between bars. That distance ranges from  50 metres to 200 metres, depending on the area. (A 25 metre limit is enacted in many areas for restaurants)

Toronto and West Queen West: Unlike all the jurisdictions listed above, Toronto is not subject to any regulations at any level of government specifically intended to regulate the density of bars in an area. In all the above cases, where a specific density is specified (New York, Chicago, Montreal) our neighborhood unambiguously exceeds the specified density.

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