Topeka, KS

Topeka May Change Kansas Law on Public Alcohol Consumption - Learn How You Can Benefit from It

Spark News

Are you a fan of live music and special events? Do you enjoy sipping a drink while exploring the sights and sounds of a vibrant district? If so, you'll be pleased to hear that Topeka officials are one step closer to changing a Kansas law to make it easier for event organizers to allow public alcohol consumption downtown and in NOTO.

Common Consumption Areas: What You Need to Know

In 2017, the Kansas Legislature authorized cities or counties to create special districts called common consumption areas. These areas allow patrons to purchase, consume, and carry alcohol off of licensed properties, such as bars and restaurants. Once inside the common consumption area, patrons can legally walk around with their drinks while enjoying the sights and sounds of the district.

The Challenge for NOTO

However, the state's current law requires streets to be blocked off for common consumption areas, which is impractical for NOTO businesses. This means that the district can't take advantage of the law and visitors can't enjoy a drink while attending special events, such as live music at Redbud Park on First Fridays or the summer concert series.

Topeka Pushes for Change

To make it easier for visitors to enjoy public alcohol consumption in NOTO, the city is pushing to eliminate the street closure requirement with HB 2059. This bill passed the House with an overwhelming 116-6 majority and now needs to pass the Senate before going to the governor.

Curtis Sneden, president of the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce, testified that the current law makes it difficult for common consumption areas to connect amenities on both sides of a street. Thomas Underwood, executive director of the NOTO Arts and Entertainment District, also noted that closing streets means losing parking spaces and access for loading zones, making a common consumption area not viable.

Lobbyists Support the Bill

Lobbyist Whitney Damron, representing Topeka, pointed to Iron Rail Brewing and downtown gatherings at Evergy Plaza as an example of how common consumption areas could benefit Topeka businesses. "Our business owners would like to be able to sell their patrons a beer or cocktail and be able to walk across the street and go to that concert," Damron said. "We can do that — if you block off the entirety of the streets."

Local Control of Public Safety Regulations

State legislators are keen to give local governments more control over public safety regulations for common consumption areas. "Local governing bodies are best situated to interact with stakeholders and make decisions on how best to build out, monitor and police common consumption areas," said Rep. Ron Bryce, R-Coffeyville.

"I think we can trust our local governments to provide safe common consumption areas that work best for their communities," said Rep. Jo Ella Hoye, D-Lenexa.

Final Thoughts

Topeka officials are making progress towards changing Kansas law to make it easier for event organizers to allow public alcohol consumption downtown and in NOTO. If the bill passes the Senate and is signed by the governor, visitors will be able to enjoy a drink while exploring the vibrant district. Local businesses stand to benefit from increased tourism and revenue, while common consumption areas can foster a sense of community and bring people together.


KSN TV. (2023). Bar-hopping, liquor on Sundays: Kansas pushes to change alcohol laws [YouTube Video]. Retrieved from

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