BAD NEWS, tallboy drinkers! On Friday, December 17, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) all but gave its blessing to a proposed ban on sales of cheap and/or potent beer and wine in downtown Portland.
So far, that proposal, pushed by City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, has looked like this: If you live or shop downtown, in Goose Hollow, or in parts of the Pearl, say goodbye to malt liquor and fortified wine, but also to six-packs of PBR and Hamm's. Or, if you dig a chilled box o' wine in the fridge, "delicious" Franzia. Agreed, it's a total pain in the ass.
But now? Expect that pain to spread. Based on hints dropped by commissioners on Friday, there's an excellent chance that if and when a ban emerges—several months from now—it'll be way bigger, if not any better.
Folks in Northwest, the Rose Quarter, and close-in Southeast may suddenly find themselves inside the lines of the alcohol impact area to keep people from walking a few more blocks for their hooch. And hip-yet-high-octane microbrews might also join the verboten list (ostensibly to keep King Cobra drinkers from saving up their cash and making the switch, but also to fend off industry lawsuits).
Normally I'd suggest you could bitch out city council—but since so few of you did that back when council actually was voting, now you'll have to tell it to the OLCC. Good luck with that if you aren't a "stakeholder" or "lobbyist."
If there's good news, it's this: Commissioners appeared to have little appetite for the tired, rehearsed melodrama regularly trotted out by the booze ban's elderly cheerleaders. (Seriously, if I have to listen to the EXACT SAME rehearsed remarks about piss, shit, semen, and cursing at one more meeting, I'll scream.)
These are people who look down from their condos and talk a lot about solving a great social ill. But they invariably let their true feelings slip when they sneer out words like "street people" and how they're staining our city's honor and keeping away tourists.
After one woman read aloud a letter to the editor sent in by some prude from Rhode Island, who apparently has never been to a large American city, Chairman Philip Lang admirably scoffed.
"I hope you and others realize that what this tourist talks about will not be changed a whole lot by this. It might be changed a little."
Right. Because solving street drinking actually requires something that's not in this ban: a stronger commitment to social services.