Rule coming on sale of alcohol in Everett’s trouble spots

EVERETT — The state Liquor and Cannabis Board is expected to rule later this month on Everett’s proposed Alcohol Impact Area, which would curtail the sale of certain strong beverages in parts of the city.

In May 2015, the city enacted an alcohol impact area that targets the sale of cheap and potent beverages in neighborhoods wrestling with problems related to chronic homelessness and addiction.

The city has no enforcement power over liquor sales, however, and so far has been limited to asking retailers to voluntarily stop selling the beverages, Everett police Lt. Bruce Bosman said.

The state is expected to issue a decision Aug. 24.

“It’s still voluntary compliance until the Liquor and Cannabis Board makes a decision,” Bosman said. “If it denies approval, it doesn’t kill it, but city would have to do something else.”

Alcohol impact areas have been created in Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane and Olympia. Under state law, municipalities can ban the retail sale of alcoholic beverages, provided the bans target specific products and areas.

Everett’s impact zone covers downtown, parts of south Everett between the mall and Paine Field, the full length of Evergreen Way and most of Broadway north of 41st Street.

The beverage list used in Everett includes “ice” beers, Mike’s Hard Lemonade and malt beverages such as Colt 45, Four Loko and Steel Reserve. Those choices most strongly correlate with public drinking, littering and nuisances.

The impact area was created by the City Council in May 2015. It was clear by December the voluntary ban was not working.

About 70 of 101 retailers in the impact area continued to sell the beverages. In addition, the area saw only a 10 percent decrease in alcohol-related emergency calls.

In December, the City Council authorized the police to request the state board for a mandatory ban.

“We had to create a formal petition for the Liquor and Cannabis Board,” said Lt. Ryan Dalberg, who now leads the impact area initiative.

The city’s application included data, but Dalberg also included information about the city’s new work crew program, which started earlier this year.

The work crew allows people to clean up part of the city in exchange for having their tickets dropped for some minor offenses, such as trespassing.

Work crews and the alcohol impact area were two of the recommendations from the city’s Streets Initiative Task Force, which identified 63 projects the city could try to reduce homelessness.

The city’s Safe Streets Plan is implementing several of those recommendations, focusing on enforcement and social services, and creating a low-barrier housing project for the most chronically homeless.

‘To my way of thinking, this problem is not just a one-dimensional problem, it incorporates so many different facets,” Dalberg said. “We just have to approach it this way.”

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

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