It was just more than a year ago, in mid-September 2010, when Commissioner Amanda Fritz pushed through city council a contentious idea to ban sales of cheap-yet-potent alcohol in parts of downtown, Old Town, and Goose Hollow. You might remember why the plan was controversial: It threatened to snag tallboys of regular beer, not just malt liquor, and bottles of gourmet wine, not just fortified swill.

Hopes were high the ban—called an "alcohol impact area"—would be ready sometime this fall. That is no longer the case. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which must also approve and would oversee any ban, now says approval of the ban may not come until next spring. And as OLCC brass hinted in December when they tentatively blessed the idea, the final ban may look a bit different than what the city presented.

More of the city might be swept up inside the forbidden zone, as in Lloyd, Northwest, etc. That's probably smart if you really want to choke off the market for street drinkers, but it might enrage more Portlanders who suddenly find they can't buy their preferred six-packs of 16-ounce cans (insert brand here). So it's probably a good thing, then, that officials—to avert heavy pressure from grocery and liquor interests—might rethink how products are banned. Instead of targeting all tallboys, for instance, a ban might only include the specific brands of hooch known to mess the most people up.

"It's still coalescing," says Christie Scott, spokeswoman for OLCC.

OLCC staffers have yet to brief industry officials on what they might be crafting. Instead, they have spent the past several months going back and forth with the city over the key data points—arrests, locations of arrests, and alcohol sales—that underpin the city's sweeping request. Scott says that because this is the first such AIA proposed in Oregon, officials "it's taking a little bit more time" to get it right.

What's the city think of all this? Beats me. Theresa Marchetti, running point on the AIA for Amanda Fritz's Office of Neighborhood Involvement, hasn't returned several calls this week.