Ban the booze: City tackles high-octane drinks

Ban the booze: City tackles high-octane drinks

PORTLAND, Ore. - Portland city leaders on Thursday night heard public testimony and discussed a ban on cheap, but powerful, alcohol drinks.

The target is on-street drinking and the problems police say that come with it.

City leaders plan to petition the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to create a limited-alcohol sales zone covering Old Town, the Pearl District, downtown and the Goose Hollow area.

Some store owners in the proposed zone have already voluntarily stopped selling malted beverages with high alcohol content. Others have stopped selling single cans of beer as well.

However, the city wants to do more to cut down on street drinking since officials feel a ban on high-alcohol-content beverages is the best way to cut down on the fights and crime police say is generally tied to street drinking.

Many store owners during Thursday’s meeting said a ban won’t solve the problem.

Wendell Pilger, who operates a downtown convenience store, said he’s against the city’s approach even though his daughter, Lynda, was killed in 2004 on the Morrison Bridge by a driver who had been drinking.

“My wife and I have suffered a great loss involving alcohol,” he said. “There is a dislike for alcohol in the fiber of our bodies.”

Despite his horrific loss, Pilger said a limited ban won’t stop street drinking; instead, it will just push it around like a balloon full of water was squeezed in the middle.

“You’re going to squeeze all the water out of it, but the balloon is going to bulge in other areas,” he said.

The University of Oregon, which has offices and stores downtown, likes the idea.

"We are in fact pretty much in an area that could be called ground zero in terms of public intoxication," said Jan Oliver with the university.

According to the city, a similar ban worked in Seattle. The city still needs OLCC approval to go ahead with creating the zone.