Tag Archives: Office of Neighborhood Involvement

SR editorial on booze ban

Editorial from the August 20 edition

It’s a tough one. The alcohol impact zone issue. For months, the city has been messaging downtown businesses, particularly shop owners who sell alcohol, to get on board with its proposed alcohol impact zone. The zone, the first in the state if created, would encompass Portland’s downtown, Old Town and Goose Hollow, and would ban the sale of lower priced, higher alcohol products. And for as long as this has been a thrust of the city, Street Roots has been grappling with where we stand on the issue, like two sides of a brain trying to reason out a single position.

On one side, (let’s call it the left side) our collective brain gives merit to the arguments for this zone: that low-priced, high-octane hooch means easy access for “street drinkers” to imbibe to extreme, contributing to the declining health and morbidity of people without means to recovery. Not to mention the general unseemliness and enforcement burden of public drinking in the city’s business, tourist and social core. The argument extends to suggest that cutting off access to a drug will curb its abuse or encourage people to seek recovery – and make no mistake; alcohol is our nation’s most popular drug, rivaling only tobacco. Continue reading

City pushes ahead on alcohol impact area

By Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writer

The City is continuing its push to create an alcohol impact area in downtown Portland, despite the dismal failure of a voluntary agreement between the City of Portland and downtown convenience store owners to not carry certain kinds of malt liquor and fortified wine.

On Thursday, Aug. 12, a public meeting was held between representatives of the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, the Portland Police Bureau and storeowners. The meeting was the first step in the process to petition the state and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) to officially designate downtown Portland as an alcohol impact area. Continue reading

Proposed alcohol ban opens larger debate on street drinking

By Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writer

City Commissioner Amanda Fritz’s office and the Office of Neighborhood Involvement is attempting to decrease the amount of public drinking in downtown Portland by convincing grocery store owners to voluntarily not carry certain kinds of alcoholic beverages.

But all the initiative is resulting in so far is fury from grocery store owners, collective agreement that it is not a real solution, with only a fraction of them agreeing to comply.

“VibrantPDX,” as the initiative is called, is a voluntary agreement between grocery stores and the Office of Neighborhood Involvement not to sell alcoholic beverages with high-alcohol content. That includes malt liquor and beer with names such as Old English 800, Steel Reserve, Milwaukie’s Best Ice and Camo Malt Liquor.

All grocery stores east and north of I-405, south of Lovejoy Avenue, and west of the Willamette River have been asked to sign the agreement. There are 67 grocery stores within those limits.

The purpose of the program is to decrease what proponents call “street drinking,” or drinking in public. It is illegal in Portland, and offenders are given a citation, which does not come with fines or other types of punishment.

The Portland Police Bureau gave 1,740 citations for public drinking in downtown Portland in 2009. That accounts for 53 percent of all public drinking in the city. Twenty-five percent of all individuals being held in detox came from the downtown area.

Steve Mattsson, the manager of Hooper Detox’s sobering station for intoxicated individuals, says the station has 12,000 admissions a year. Fifty percent of those people are ones that will return, Mattsson says, “on a repeated basis.” In his mind, there is no doubt that there is a street drinking problem.

“Over the last two years, one of the most frequent complaints we get were problems around street drinking,” says Mark Friedman, a Central Precinct officer.

“It is a compelling problem in a small area,” says Theresa Marchetti, ONI’s liquor license specialist. She emphasized that it is a location and not store-based problem. “(And) it’s not a problem we can really ignore.” Continue reading