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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Parents could soon be able to bring their kids to Spokane beer gardens

Brick West’s Salmon-Safe beer Upstream is photographed on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022, at Brick West Brewing in Spokane, Wash.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

It could soon be legal for parents to bring their kids with them into Spokane beer gardens at events like Pig Out in the Park, as two city councilmen move to relax local regulations.

The Family Friendly Ordinance, sponsored by Councilmen Paul Dillon and Zack Zappone, would allow people under the age of 21 to enter a beer garden on public right of ways, such as streets closed off during events, so long as they are accompanied by someone 21 or older while in the restricted area. Currently, events are only allowed one beer garden, and the ordinance would also waive this limitation.

“This ordinance allows families like mine to stay together at street festivals, making our events more family-friendly and accessible to all who want to attend our great events,” Zappone said in a Monday news release. “This change will bring more revenue to our local non-profits and businesses and is supported by a diverse group of Spokane organizations.”

In most cases, the changes would not apply to beer gardens held on private property or city parks, which require different permissions from the state Liquor and Cannabis Board, Zappone said in a Monday interview. However, some park areas, such as Riverfront Park and the Howard Street Promenade, would qualify, Zappone added. Only nonprofits are able to host events on public rights of way where beer gardens would be allowed.

The ordinance was introduced to committee Monday and is scheduled for a vote on Jan. 29.

The proposal from Dillon and Zappone would also relax other restrictions on local beer gardens, removing the current requirement that there be two security guards at each entrance and exit to the fenced-off area, as well as the requirement that those admitted to the beer gardens wear wristbands or other visible identifiers.

If these restrictions are removed, local law would more closely match state regulations. The changes are modeled after Brickwest Brewing, which uses an adjacent public park as a sort of permanent extension of the business and is commonly used by families with children without security guards or wristbands.

“It’s probably the best public-private partnership I’ve ever seen,” Brickwest co-owner Jordan Tampien said in an interview.

Tampien doubted that the loosening of restrictions would result in increased underage drinking or other issues.

“I don’t think you’re going to see a deficit there, but I think it will encourage more use of our downtown spaces like Riverfront and help activate downtown,” he added.

Downtown Spokane Partnership CEO Emilie Cameron agrees.

“It’s about creating an experience, so when we, either DSP or community groups, are hosting events, the opportunity to create an experience where people can flow freely within the event and enjoy the event whether as a family or as a large group, it enhances the event,” Cameron said.