Tacoma's West End could become city's newest AIA

A decision is expected to be made later this month at City Hall over whether to create an Alcohol Impact Area in Tacoma’s West End in order to curb chronic public inebriation in the neighborhood.

If adopted by Tacoma City Council, the ordinance would restrict the sale of fortified beer and wine, ban sales of the alcohol between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., restrict container sizes to no more than 19 ounces, and restrict single package sales of the cheap and potent booze.

Tacoma already has two Alcohol Impact Areas: one in the downtown and Hilltop neighborhoods, created in 2001; and one in the Lincoln District, created in 2008.

In October, city staff told Tacoma City Council’s neighborhoods and housing committee that reported calls for service in the West End for alcohol-related incidents increased by over 40 percent in the past year, and four-fold since the Lincoln District Alcohol Impact Area was established five years ago. City staff also reported a request for the special designation was made by the West End Neighborhood Council and has received support from the North End Neighborhood Council, Central Neighborhood Council, Old Town Business District, 6th Avenue Business District, Tacoma Community College, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma Public Schools, Pierce Transit, and Metro Parks Tacoma.

Washington State law requires a local jurisdiction to pass an ordinance creating a voluntary Alcohol Impact Area and then monitor the incidents of chronic public inebriation or illegal activity associated with alcohol sales or consumption in the area for six months. If problems persist, the local jurisdiction can ask the Washington State Liquor Control Board to officially designate the area as a mandatory Alcohol Impact Area.

Tacoma City Council is tentatively scheduled to hear the first reading of an ordinance to create the Alcohol Impact Area in Tacoma’s West End during its meeting on Tues., Feb. 19, at 5 p.m. in City Council Chambers on the first floor of the Tacoma Municipal Building, located at 747 Market Street. Council meetings are streamed live online at tvtacoma.com and broadcast live on TV Tacoma.

Fortified beer cans littered a transient camp near South 12th Street and State Route 16 in Tacoma's West End neighborhood last August, according to City of Tacoma officials. (PHOTO COURTESY CITY OF TACOMA)