Sunday, January 29, 2012

Nuisance Behaviors, Chronic Public Inebriety, and Alcohol Impact Areas

A common denominator to many of the nuisance behaviors occurring in our neighborhood is alcohol - particularly the public consumption of cheap, high alcohol content beverages by people suffering from Chronic Public Inebriation (CPI). These nuisance behaviors are having a significant negative impact on our community's quality of life. They affect how our business district and public spaces are perceived, used, occupied, and developed by ourselves and others.

This is not unique to our neighborhood. Other neighborhoods that have this ongoing problem have worked with the city's Department of Neighborhoods, the Seattle Police, and the Liquor Control Board to put in place what is called an Alcohol Impact Area (AIA). The intent of an AIA is to limit the supply of cheap, high alcohol content beverages to people suffering from CPI, which reduces liquor violations and the associated nuisance behaviors in our public spaces.

Attempts were made in the past to put in place Good Neighbor Agreements with some of the businesses that sell these cheap, high alcohol content beverages. This is a voluntary program worked out between them and the North Precinct. The GNAs were attempted 5 years ago as a way of solving the liquor / CPI / nuisance behavior problem prior to creating an Alcohol Impact Area which makes compliance a condition of the liquor license. The voluntary compliance has not worked.

There is enough data collected from other communities that have put AIAs in place to show that they are effective tools for reducing CPI related nuisance behaviors - in some cases by at much as 80% . One of the requirements prior to establishing an AIA is 18 months of data prior to creation and 18 months of data after for statistical comparison. The city has the prior data available already, as shown on a previous post on liquour violations.

Councilmember Richard Conlin will be at the North District Coucil meeting this Wednesday. He has made statements in favor of these as tools for not only helping people suffering from Chronic Public Inebriety, but also helping neighborhoods improve their quality of life.

The topic of AIA / CPI will also be an important issue to address when the next speaker at the meeting - Marty Curry - introduces the start of a study of the Lake City Hub Urban Village by UW students on behalf of the Pierres' project to redevelop 14 acres in the area.

Here is a list of the banned products. There have been requests that other products be added to the list, particularly the ones similar to Four Loko. There is also discussion about making a more general rule for determining what should be on the list. The problem is that the manufacturers just make products with new names to avoid the ban.

How this would impact Elliott Bay Brew Pub's selection? It won't. Is it fair to limit access to certain types of alcohol? The answer to that depends on how you perceive the relationship between these products, the people who consume them, the public conduct of people under the influence of these products, and the impact of their behavior on our community.

A bigger question is what will things look like when this happens?

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