Mapping Baltimore: Where are Non-Conforming Liquor Stores?

It’s no surprise that Baltimore’s lower income neighborhoods have more packaged good stores than their more affluent counterparts. Just take a drive around Baltimore’s lowest income neighborhoods and it’s often hard to find much beyond forty ounces. But the disparity of non-conforming stores, that is, commercial alcohol outlets operating on residential streets, between the wealthier and poorer City Districts of Baltimore is beyond alarming.

A CPHA mapping of Baltimore’s non-conforming liquor outlets against the median home sales price by Census Tract from 2009-2010 shows that the city’s poorer African-American neighborhoods bear nearly the entire  burden of alcohol stores that don’t conform to our zoning code. These neighborhoods, with extreme alcohol outlet density, are generally  associated with poorer health, shorter average life expectancy, and even higher rates of  violent crime. And an Abell report from January suggests that liquor outlets themselves may cause violent crime.

Map for Blog

Baltimore City Non-Conforming Liquor Outlets

This alarming distribution of non-conforming liquor stores in the city is being addressed by the new TransForm Baltimore zoning legislation. By reducing the number of alcohol outlets in residential areas, the legislation hopes to create healthier and safer communities. The new zoning bill was approved by the Baltimore City Planning Commission earlier in March with near unanimous support. A phone call with the Mayor’s Office and the City Council President’s office has confirmed that the next hearing has been scheduled for September, although the exact date remains unknown.  However, some City Council Members, including those representing the poorest African American neighborhoods, have not come out in public support of reducing alcohol outlet density. It is equally alarming that City Council members would even consider support for these non conforming liquor outlets over their constituencies that are over-saturated with these establishments. The Bill will first be reviewed by the Land Use and Transportation Committee whose current members are:

Edward Reisinger (Chair) –
James B. Kraft (Vice Chair) –
Warren Branch –
Mary Pat Clarke –
Bill Henry –
Sharon Green Middleton –
Rochelle “Rikki” Spector –

CPHA has played an active role in pushing for a reduction of liquor outlets in Baltimore. Email City Council Members to make sure they vote to reduce alcohol outlet density (without adding amendments that strip the purpose) and join our coalition here.  We will invite you to our upcoming events this summer and ask you to join us for testimony in September.

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Faith Tandoc

Faith Tandoc

This article was written by Faith Tandoc and edited by Michael Snidal. Click here to meet our writing team.
Faith Tandoc

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