Liquor Control Board approves second Tacoma Alcohol Impact Area

The Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) today approved a resolution recognizing a second Alcohol Impact Area (AIA) in the city of Tacoma.

The resolution restricts the sale of 44 high-alcohol, low-cost beer and wine products identified through city efforts as the products associated with chronic public inebriation problems in and surrounding the city’s Lincoln District. The AIA boundaries are Interstate 5 to the west, south to 72nd and 76th streets, east to Portland Avenue, and north to Interstate 5.

According to WSLCB, there are 62 liquor-licensed businesses and three state operated liquor stores within the Lincoln District AIA. The WSLCB will contact affected licensees to inform them of the new restriction and request that they remove restricted products from their shelves. The list of banned products goes into effect on Oct. 1.

In a statement released today, WSLCB Chairman Lorraine Lee said that AIAs are becoming a popular option to reduce chronic public inebriation and its related problems. “It requires local government, community groups, and liquor licensed businesses to work together to use a multi-faceted approach,” said Lee. “Board-imposed restriction on alcohol sales alone is not the ‘silver bullet,’ but it is a necessary element of the comprehensive solution needed to deal with the chronic public inebriation problem.”

Public testimony at a May 7 hearing included reports of positive changes from residents involved with the first Tacoma AIA and their support for the second AIA. The city listed concerns about the proximity of alcohol-related crimes near or on streets where children walk to school each day as one of the reasons it needs the second AIA.

“These were important factors to the Board as it rendered its decision today that a new AIA in the Lincoln District and the ban on certain beer and wine products are needed for the community’s public health and safety,,” said Lee.

State AIA rules are provided in Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 314-12. A local jurisdiction must pass an ordinance creating a voluntary AIA. If chronic public inebriation and its associated problems do not lessen after the voluntary AIA is created, the local jurisdiction may then contact the WSLCB to request the adoption of the area as a mandatory AIA.

The Tacoma City Council enacted an ordinance creating a voluntary Lincoln District AIA in April 2007. The city requested the mandatory AIA in January 2008.

According to WAC 314-12-215(8), a Board-approved AIA remains in effect until either the local authority repeals its ordinance, or the Board repeals it after the AIA has been in effect for two years.

Tacoma, the first city in the state to use the AIA rules, has one other mandatory AIA, the Central Core AIA.