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SALEM, Ore. -- An Oregon Senate bill that passed Monday could lead to restricted sales of alcohol in certain areas of cities if it also passes the House, according to a report in The Register-Guard.
Senate Bill 764 allows cities with at least 50,000 residents to petition the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) to establish "alcohol impact areas" that have documented inflated crime and disturbance rates partly due to public alcohol use. The commission could then ban sales of specific brands and types of alcohol within those areas. Currently, only cities with more than 300,000 may petition the OLCC to establish an alcohol impact area.
"By designating an alcohol impact area, cities will be better able to deal with persistent alcohol crime and disturbances," said Sen. Lee Beyer (D-Springfield). "Our cities' public safety resources are already drained and these designations can help us set specific rules that fit the needs of our community."
The bill comes in the wake of a Eugene, Ore. Experiment in which convenience store owners near Washington-Jefferson Park agreed not to sell the low-cost Steel Reserve High Gravity and Hurricane High Gravity brands for three months in 2009-2010. According to the Eugene police department, crime in the area decreased significantly during the experiment. Afterward, all but one of the stores kept the brands off the shelves, according to a KEZI report. Proponents of the bill hope to use it to duplicate the experiment's success on a wider scale.
"I was a little bit skeptical when this concept was first brought to me until I saw some of the data," said Sen. Chris Edwards (D-Eugene). "The reduction in crime was staggering; the city of Eugene police became strong proponents, as have I."
The OLCC has not yet determined what criteria it would use to decide which alcohol types of brands would be banned; however, Commission spokeswoman Christie Scott said that it would decide specific rules for individual alcohol impact areas. The OLCC has been working with the city of Portland to establish one such area in downtown Portland and is getting public input before drafting rules and boundaries for it, a process which will last at least until the end of the year, according to Scott.
Following its 19-11 passage in the Senate, the bill now goes to a House committee, where it must be passed within the next two and a half weeks to become law.