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Washington Voices

South Perry group eyes alcohol impact zone

The South Perry Business and Neighborhood Association is seeking an alcohol impact zone in the South Perry District.

An alcohol impact zone would not outlaw sales of liquor from grocery stores, restaurants and bars, but it would ban sales of single-serving high alcohol beverages that typically are consumed on the street or in parks near where they are purchased.

About a year ago, the State Liquor Control Board allowed the city of Spokane to establish a mandatory alcohol impact zone in the downtown area.

Since then, medical calls for alcohol-related incidents have dropped 47 percent and police responses to alcohol-related incidents are down by 16 percent.

The SPBNA is considering an alcohol impact zone now mainly because of the worry that people who can’t purchase cheap alcohol downtown are going to the Perry district to buy and consume it.

“I don’t know how big of an issue it really is here,” said Marshall Powell of the SPBNA. “I live here, but I’ve never seen passed out drunk people on the sidewalk.”

At the SPBNA meeting last week, some said an alcohol impact zone would help with the ongoing cleanup of Grant Park. Proponents also said that cutting back on alcohol sales makes sense because there’s an elementary school in the middle of the district.

“This is about protecting our kids,” said Angel Troutt, who lives in the neighborhood. “There is nothing wrong with wanting to protect the kids.” After much discussion, the SPBNA decided to approach City Councilman Jon Snyder and ask for his support on the issue, as well as to send a letter to businesses in the area explaining what the neighborhood group is trying to do.

Browne’s Addition is also in the process of adapting an alcohol impact zone, and so is the International District on East Sprague Avenue.

“Once it happens on East Sprague, I’m sure people will come up here to buy stuff like the high-powered beers,” said Powell.

Powell explained that the application for an alcohol impact zone is at least a two-year process, with the first year being a voluntary compliance year.

“Police will go around and talk to businesses about it, then monitor if it works,” said Powell.

There are 36 different types of high alcohol drinks on the banned list in the downtown area.

After the one-year trial period an alcohol impact zone may become mandatory, but it must be supported by a city council member. It’s granted by the State Liqour Control Board.

“Since it’s such a long process there is no reason for us to not begin it now,” said Powell.