Frequently Asked Questions
What is Keep The Heights Dry?
Keep the Heights Dry is a Political Action Committee that opposes CITY OF HOUSTON, PROPOSITION NO. 1 (Relating to the area formerly known as the City of Houston Heights as it existed on February 19, 1918.) The legal sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption only.
We consist of community volunteers who live and work in the Houston Heights dry area, and we encourage residents to vote AGAINST Proposition 1.
Who does not want to keep the Heights dry?
The Houston Heights Beverage Coalition PAC, led by Heights resident Steve Reilley, is the main proponent of Proposition 1. In an interview with the Off the Kuff blog, Mr. Reilley implies that this is a community-led effort, though it is somewhat of a public secret that the relationship between Houston Heights Beverage Coalition, Texas Petition Strategies, and HEB has directly led to the local option election and campaign. Campaign finance reports from the Houston Heights Beverage Coalition PAC confirm that it is backed exclusively by HEB to the tune of over $50,000.
HEB has publicly announced its location at 23rd Street & North Shepherd, pending the outcome of the dry area election.
Here is an interview in which Mr. Reilley gives background on the organization, denying that they are expressly supported by HEB:
Why keep the Heights Dry? Religious reasons? Tradition?
We are motivated by a desire to keep the character of Houston Heights intact. It is exactly that local character that has made this one of Houston’s most desired residential neighborhoods.
We firmly believe that the character of the Heights as it exists today is not a happy accident. It has been shaped by has been shaped by countless volunteer hours from the dedicated Houston Heights Association members of yesterday and today, the area’s rich history as its own city, the historic districts of The Heights, and the 104-year-old ban on alcohol sales in the Houston Heights “dry area.”
Our opposition is not moral (we're all for alcohol!), and our only commercial interest is in maintaining the conditions that already encourage small, local business ownership and operation.
Our biggest concern is that allowing the sale of beer and wine for off-premises consumption will make it easier for large regional or national operators to come in and apply a “one-size-fits-all” model that is currently anomalous in the Heights dry area.
A few key sites in Houston Heights, then, become vulnerable to precisely the sort of commercial development that changes the feel of the neighborhood from quaint and quirky to cookie-cutter (think Costco, Sam's Club, Valero, CVS, Walgreens, Beverage Barns). Particularly vulnerable sites are those large deed unrestricted sites with no contributing historic structures and high traffic:
W. 4th St. & Yale (currently National Tree & Shrub)
E. 10th St. & Heights Blvd. (currently a chiropractic office)
W. 14th & Heights Blvd. (currently a convenience store and Pink's Pizza)
W. 14th & Yale (currently a local car wash and small collection of local shops)
W. 11th & Yale (currently Heights favorite Eight Row Flint and a local dry cleaners)
W. 24th St. between Ashland & Rutland (currently vacant)
What is Proposition 1?
CITY OF HOUSTON, PROPOSITION NO. 1 is a vote on whether or not to allow the legal sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption only. Should it pass, this will allow new and existing retailers to easily apply for a permit that will allow them to sell beer and wine.
What sort of businesses engage in off-premises consumption?
Currently in Texas, the largest holders of permits for this type of off-premises consumption for beer and wine are:
99 Cents Only Store
El Ahorro Supermarket
Family Dollar Stores
La Michoacana Meat Market
What are the ramifications of allowing off-premises consumption?
Logically, the operators above would be best positioned to enter forcefully into the market of the dry area. We will further identify areas that we believe would be vulnerable to this type of commercial development, namely tracts of land in the dry area that are not deed restricted against commercial use nor have contributing structures within the historic district.
We believe that current conditions favor small and local business owners who want to be in the Heights for what it is, and not what they want it to be for their own commercial gain.
We also believe that this would open the door for a later push to do away with any limits on alcohol sales for on- or off-premises consumption altogether. This “slippery slope” concept is not without precedence in other parts of Texas. Without being alarmist, we believe that would usher in an era of major restaurant brands entering our neighborhood.
Is “Keep The Heights Dry” simply opposed to the new HEB at the site of the former Fiesta?
In fact, we are not. We welcome any addition to the neighborhood that will provide more options to us and our neighbors. We simply believe that it is not a tall order for HEB to operate within the same limitations that the former Fiesta did, for example, such as having a separate location just blocks away outside the dry area for alcohol sales.
We believe that uprooting a 104-year-old tradition for the limited benefit of one retailer on four-acres of land is a tall order for those of us who want to keep the Heights character intact.