Seattle Liquor Board Bans Bargain Beer, Wine

Creates new alcohol impact areas

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The Washington State Liquor Control Board has unanimously approved a resolution recognizing two new Alcohol Impact Areas (AIAs) in the Seattle, the board said.

The resolution restricts the sale of 29 high-alcohol, low-cost beer and wine products in a 5.71-square-mile area of the city's central core and in a .78-square-mile area in the University District. The resolution will go into effect Nov. 1, 2006.

The list of banned beverages includes cheap malt liquors, including Steel Reserve, Olde English 800 and Colt 45, [image-nocss] and fortified wines such as Cisco and Thunderbird, added a report by The Seattle Times.

Supporters of the ban said those products are favored by homeless alcoholics who cause problems in city neighborhoods, said the board.

The ban had been requested by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and endorsed by the City Council in response to neighborhood complaints about litter, panhandling and other problems associated with street drinking, the newspaper added.

The chief opposition has come from owners of small, immigrant-owned convenience stores who fear the rules will drive them out of business.

Liquor Board Chairman Merritt D. Long said there are 4,000 other brands of beer available for sale in the state. There is not going to be a lack of beer or wine available, Long said.

Long indicated the resolution followed extensive planning, analysis by the City of Seattle and input from citizens and neighborhood groups. Seattle sought and won approval for a small, six-square-block AIA in Pioneer Square in 2004.

"This is indeed a community request in tandem with the city and it is an effort that has been in the works for almost two years, said Long. The testimony from the community was overwhelming in support of the AIA. It is part of an overall strategy the city has engaged in that includes improved access to treatment, housing, case management, vocational development and law enforcement."

Board Member Vera Ing said that as a child of immigrants who operated a small store in the Central District, she learned early about the challenges of running a small business in the city. And later, as a business owner in the Pioneer Square area, she experienced first-hand problems associated with chronic public inebriation. "I know this process will affect many peoplemore than 200 licenses in Seattle. This area of Seattle is very diverseit has a highly diverse business community. It is important that the neighborhood associations in every area of Seattle continue to work on this issue. I believe this was a good process and a fair process and that's why I support it.

Board Member Roger Hoen, in voting to approve, said the City of Seattle had satisfied all the AIA requirements through extensive study, stakeholder input and the evaluation of impact.

Click here to view the resolution.

Click here to view the issue paper.

Click here to view the Seattle AIA Background.