Known as the 51% rule, the ordinance requires city businesses make at least 51% of their profits from non-alcohol-related sales, according to the city. The law dates back to the prohibition era in Texas, and because it exists, businesses that mostly or exclusively sell alcohol, such as bars, are not permitted.
According to the city, of about 18,000 total signatures submitted, 11,325 were reviewed, and 4,613 were determined to be invalid, making it mathematically impossible to meet the required 15,050 signatures to bring the 51% rule to ballot consideration in November. Signatures are deemed invalid if a signer resides outside of Pearland city limits, is not a registered voter for city of Pearland elections or appeared on the petition more than once.
According to the 1892 Texas Constitution, changes to the 51% rule can be made only through a local election. The law was first altered in Pearland in 2002 to allow restaurants to serve mixed beverages, according to previous reports.
In 2007, Brazoria County held an election to allow off-premise beer and wine sales from grocery and convenience stores. When that passed with 75% in favor, it changed the law in Pearland. Again in 2016, Pearland held an election to allow off-premises liquor sales, which again passed with 66% in favor, as previously reported.
If the petition had been successful, it would have created a ballot item for Pearland residents to vote on the existing 51% rule in Pearland. Had the rule been overturned due to the election, the move would have paved the way for bars to come to Pearland.
Various Pearland City Council members have voiced support for the matter going before voters, including Alex Kamkar, Adrian Hernandez and Luke Orlando. Still, others have expressed concerns about an increase in crime should the petition and ballot measure pass.
In early August, Seth Thompson, chair of the Pearland Entertainment and Beverage Coalition, told Community Impact Newspaper the coalition and the city of Pearland were still reviewing the petition. The coalition is the political action committee created to circulate the citywide petition.
However, Aug. 23, Pearland City Council accepted the city secretary’s determination that the petition failed to meet the signature requirements.