August 1, 2012 in City

Officials to ban fortified beer in East Central

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Molly Quinn photo

Spokane alcohol impact areas.
(Full-size photo)

High-octane beers will soon be banned in yet another part of Spokane.

Retailers in the East Central neighborhood no longer will be able to sell certain fortified beers after this summer, part of an effort by Spokane City Hall to try curbing public inebriation and other nuisance problems by restricting access to the cheap, potent booze. The state Liquor Control Board has decided to back the city’s plan.

The crackdown mirrors a similar prohibition on downtown retailers that went into effect two years ago.

Police and neighborhood residents say the drinking has gotten out of control.

The Liquor Control Board made the decision Wednesday, three weeks after listening to divided testimonies from City Council members, store owners, East Central residents, a police officer and a firefighter.

The list of banned products includes 46 fortified beers, each with an alcohol content of 5.7 percent or more. Many of them sell for less than $2 at local mini marts.

The decision will create what officials call a mandatory alcohol impact area, a zone in which stores cannot legally sell the fortified beers. The impact area will stretch from the South Perry district east to Havana and extend a couple blocks south of I-90 and a couple blocks north of Sprague Avenue.

Officials created the mandatory alcohol impact area in downtown in May 2010 and then a voluntary one in East Central last year. But there was little movement toward compliance at the 13 stores in the East Central area.

In the past two years, public drunkenness has largely moved to East Central and other areas outside downtown, police Officer Max Hewitt testified last month.

Mikhail Carpenter, a spokesman for the board, said the ban will go into effect Sept. 15.

“You have to give the retailers adequate time to remove the products from the shelves,” Carpenter said.

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