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Everett City Council considering a ban on cheap booze

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EVERETT — The city of Everett is considering banning the sales of some types of alcohol to cut down on problems with public drinking and the homeless. But not all business owners are on board.

On his way home from work Thursday, Kent Trainer stopped at the store to grab a cheap beer.

“Hurricane’s pretty good and it’s only a dollar,” he said.

Julz Berard said beers like Hurricane are some of the most popular items at Welch`s Foods.

“They fly off the shelf continually here. The 211, the Steel Reserve.”

But next week, the Everett City Council will vote on an ordinance to create an Alcohol Impact Area (AIA), where sales of cheap booze like that would be banned.

It`s one of the recommendations of the Community Streets task force, which is trying to combat issues like homelessness and public drunkenness.

“Nobody thinks it's going to solve all problems,” said Deputy City Attorney David Hall. “But the hope is it will give some relief to those parts of the city that are disproportionally affected by the sales of high-alcohol products.”

He said they outlined the AIA, by looking at where police got the most calls of alcohol-related crimes and people passed out. Then they did a survey of the cans and bottles littered on the street.

“The banned product list is based on empty containers repeatedly found in these areas.”

But some think the ban will hurt small businesses.

“I don't think any government has the right to clamp down on private business,” Trainer said, “to tell them they have to change their price or can`t sell a particular product that's legal.”

They also question whether the ban will help.

“That won't make a difference with homeless people. I don't see how,” said Berard. “They’ll do whatever they have to do to get that beer. If those are taken off, they'll just come up with another kind.”

But according to the Liquor Control Board, other cities that have adopted AIAs have had success.

In 2012, Tacoma reported that alcohol-related incidents dropped 27% in their Lincoln AIA. In 2011, Seattle reported a 41% decrease in adult liquor violations in their Central AIA. That’s why Everett city officials are hopeful.

“It certainly won't solve the problem. But in other areas, it has shown that it makes a difference,” said Hall.

The City Council will vote on the ordinance at their meeting next Wednesday, April 15.

To see a copy of the ordinance and a list of the alcohol to be banned, click here.

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