COUNCIL COMMITTEE APPROVES EXPANDED ALCOHOL IMPACT AREAS
If adopted by the Full Council, voluntary agreements will be sought to limit certain liquor sales in U District and central Seattle
SEATTLE – Members of the Seattle City Council Housing, Human Services & Health Committee today voted 2-1 to designate two new Alcohol Impact Areas in the University District and central Seattle, including downtown.
If approved by the Council on June 1, communities within the boundaries of the proposed AIAs will begin working with all off-premise liquor licensees (such as grocery stores, drug stores, gas stations, etc. that sell but do not serve alcohol) to develop voluntary “Good Neighbor Agreements” that outline certain restrictions to improve neighborhood livability. The agreements may include restricting the hours of alcohol sales, removing high alcohol content/low cost beverages, and not selling single cans or bottles of alcoholic beverages.
The proposed Central Core AIA would extend from Elliott Bay east to 29th Avenue, and from South Royal Brougham Way and I-90 north to Valley Street and E. Aloha Street. The Council committee today amended the original proposal to include the Judkins Park area of Central Seattle. The proposed University District AIA would extend from Latona Avenue NE east to 15th Avenue NE, and from NE Northlake Way north to NE 60th Street and NE Ravenna Boulevard.
Alcohol Impact Areas are designed to reduce the problem of chronic public inebriation through limitations on certain types of alcohol sales. The City has one AIA in the Pioneer Square area. Mandatory restrictions on the sale of alcohol went into effect in Pioneer Square in September of last year. Preliminary police reports suggest a decline in the number of alcohol related incidents in that community.
“The AIAs are being considered in response to neighborhood concerns about problems associated with chronic public inebriation,” said Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, chair of the Housing, Human Services & Health Committee, who, along with Council President Jan Drago, voted to approve the new AIA designations.
But Councilmember Richard J. McIver dissented, saying the notion of creating one area where certain types of alcohol are restricted could send inebriates to outlying parts of the City. McIver said the Rainier Valley may end up being a destination for problem inebriates just as Capitol Hill saw an increase after the Pioneer Square AIA was created.
The Washington State Liquor Control Board has mandated that voluntary efforts must be tried for at least six months. At the end of that period, if voluntary compliance is not achieved, the Mayor and City Council may ask that the Liquor Control Board make restrictions mandatory. In Pioneer Square, mandatory restrictions on the sale of alcohol took effect last September.
“It’s important to recognize that AIAs may help neighborhoods beset by chronic public inebriation problems, but do little for the chronic alcoholic,” said Rasmussen. “If this issue is returned to the City Council in six months for mandatory restrictions, I will evaluate other efforts the City is doing to address treatment, counseling or other services for chronic alcoholics and require that programs and services to help alcoholic persons be available in the AIA before final approval.”