As usual, the 10/4 North Beacon Hill Council meeting was jam-packed with a variety of topics. The majority of the meeting was dedicated to efforts to organize an Alcohol Impact Area (AIA) in North Beacon Hill. North Beacon Hill neighbors are attempting to organize an AIA to increase public safety. To learn more, visit their Facebook page at Beacon AIAI.
AIA supporters believe that implementing an Alcohol Impact Area in Beacon Hill will increase public safety and lower costs to taxpayers by decreasing the need for first responders (Seattle Police Department, Seattle Fire Department, etc) called to assist those incapacitated by alcohol. A first step to implement an AIA is to report all incidents of public inebriation and collecting/taking photographs of all alcohol related litter (especially cans/bottles of restricted brands).
Per the WA State Liquor Control Board: “The purpose of an Alcohol Impact Area is for local authorities to have a process to mitigate problems with chronic public inebriation or illegal activities linked to the sale or consumption of alcohol within a geographic area of their city, town or county, but not the entire jurisdiction. An Alcohol Impact Area is designated by geographical boundaries as defined in Washington Administrative Code Chapter 314-12.”
The WA State Liquor Control Board evaluated AIAs in 2009. Results are here. One interesting conclusion: people living in Alcohol Impact Areas reported that they were happier!
“Overall, in comparison to the results of the 2006 survey, people living within the Alcohol Impact Areas are now more positive as evidenced by the following:
- 26% of people rate the overall quality of life in their neighborhood as excellent (20% in 2006)
- 60% of people say they notice chronic public inebriates in the neighborhood (69% in 2006)
- 18% of people say that drug activity has increased (24% in 2006)
- But, 28% of people say that crime has increased (23% in 2006)”
(Source: Seattle Alcohol Impact Area Evaluation Executive Summary, 2009.)
City of Seattle studies did not inquire whether residents within AIAs enjoyed a higher quality of life, but did discover:
“…A decrease in offenses related to chronic public inebriation: Adult Liquor Violations, Parks Exclusions, and Criminal Trespass. In addition, the sobering unit van also saw a 9% decrease in pick-ups over the same pre-mandatory AIA and post-mandatory AIA periods of time.” (Source: June 2008 Report on Mandatory Compliance Efforts in the Seattle Alcohol Impact Area.)
Department of Neighborhoods Program Manager Pamela Banks attended Tuesday’s meeting and cautioned that North Beacon Hill would face an uphill battle to implement an AIA. Resources and staff are currently stretched very thin in Seattle and the AIA process is difficult.
Other options to reduce public inebriation and increase public safety were discussed, including asking neighborhood businesses to voluntarily participate in a “Good Neighbor” agreement limiting sales of banned beverages and requesting increased enforcement of existing laws.