Thursday, April 8, 2010

LCB Approves Spokane AIA

Acronym Acronym? Acronym. What this translates to is yesterday, the WA Liquor Control Board approved a Mandatory Alcohol Impact Area for downtown Spokane. This makes it the third area in the state where certain kinds of low-cost, high-octane beer and wine are prohibited from sale for off-premises consumption.

This makes Spokane the third city to ask for a mandatory AIA; Tacoma has one and Seattle has two: the Downtown Core and the U-District. As you can clearly see, AIAs have proven effective in decreasing public drunkenness there. Just not at stopping fires in the middle of the U-District's streets, which is a time honored tradition.

AIAs start out as a "voluntary' process, in which the City outlines an area, identifies the sellers authorized for off-premises consumption, and works with them to voluntarily restrict sales of targeted products. If this is unsuccessful, the City can ask the LCB to declare a 'mandatory' AIA, forcing those licensees to stop sales of requested brands.

What I do find interesting is that the restricted wines and beers are listed by actual brand name, rather than by common characteristics. So for example, this allows Elysian Brewing's Elysian Fields Brewery (on the Southern edge of the Downtown Core AIA) to sell their (excellent) AK-47 Malt Liquor in growlers, while a liquor store in Pioneer Square can't sell Colt-45 or Old English. This targeted crackdown on specific brands is no doubt valid under the old Young's Market 'power to ban outright = power to do anything less' reasoning, the staple of Liquor Control Board authority across the country. But I do wonder how the targeting of individual brands would stand up under more recent jurisprudence.

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The Twentyfirst Amendment Meets the 21st Century by Russell Hews Everett is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. The opinions expressed on this page are purely my own, and should not be taken to constitute legal representation or advice.