Cheers to South Haven!

A long-debated topic among residents, South Haven city council members voted and approved the city's first social district last December. Now, just under a year later and the signs have gone up in preparation for the new policy. Do you know the rules?

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What's a Social District?

First, what does "social district" even mean? If you're unfamiliar with the concept, a social district is a designated zone where open containers of alcohol are permitted to be carried and consumed.

A product of the Covid-19 pandemic, participating businesses are licensed and permitted to serve alcoholic beverages in designated containers; patrons are then able to enjoy their beverages outside, roam, and window shop-- all with drink in hand! Quite often participating businesses will also allow you to bring your drink inside while you shop.

South Haven Rules

Of course, South Haven always has to do things a little differently. In past discussions residents brought up concerns about how alcohol and the new social district would mix with unruly tourists and/or dangerous swimming conditions. Both supporters of the proposed social district and its opponents chimed in on social media saying things like:

  • "How about a more welcoming and vibrant town. Compare it to Saugatuck, Holland, Grand Haven…more outdoor seating, more tourism, more revenue which brings in more taxes. I see a lot of benefits." - Brandyn Stern
  • "Sure… let’s invite 10,000 tourists to our small town every summer to get obnoxiously drunk on the streets of our beautiful quaint beach town…. It’s not like we don’t already have a problem with drownings…Really BAD idea." - Gretchen Rogers

However, the city was able to come up with a compromise:

South Haven's social district will only be open after the busy tourism season has ended. Those who wish to enjoy the social district can only do so from October 1 to May 15.

That means South Haven's first social district is about to take effect! Chris Campbell, owner of SoHa Surf Shop shared a photo of the town's new signage:

It's really happening! South Haven joins communities like Allegan, Saugatuck, Holland, Zeeland, Grand Rapids, and more.

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