Should malt liquor sales be banned in Eugene?

Should malt liquor sales be banned in Eugene?

EUGENE, Ore. --  In November, Eugene Police Sergeant Terry Fitzpatrick met with KVAL News to discuss crime in the Jefferson-Washington Street Bridge area to talk about crime and how high content alcohol impacts safety

He says high content alcohol drinks are targeted at homeless alcoholics.  "To put it in perspective, Fitzpatrick said, "each one of these cans has the equivalent of four shots of hard liquor in it and they sell them very cheap some of them as as little as $1.49 a piece."

Stores such as the Neighborhood Market in Whiteaker agreed to stop selling certain high-content alcohol beverages from October 2009 to January 2010.  KVAL News talked to the manager who said he lost money during the ban but wasn't going to go against what the community wanted.

So what does the community want?

A man who works just yards from where transient James Pelfrey was murdered last summer says now he feels safe enough to bring his baby son through the park during the day. 

Mark Jaehnig, an investigator for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, told KVAL News the ban has made his job easier.  "If we weren't getting complaints from the neighbors, Jaehnig said, "we were getting calls from the police department or police reports.  Once the ban started we didn't see any complaints."

Other cities such as Tacoma and Seattle have banned high content alcohol in high crime areas.  Portland is trying to do the same thing. 

But there's an obstacle for authorities to institute a ban in Eugene.  State law says OLCC only has the authority to regulate this type of alcohol in communities with more than 300 thousand residents. 

Fitzpatrick wants to change the law.  "I think if we can get rid of this stuff in the city of Eugene our crime rate would have dramatic decreases," he said.

Response from the Whiteaker community helped bring about the first ban. To share your thoughts on a city wide ban on high content alcohol, call your City Councilor, write a letter to Mayor Kitty Piercy and post a comment on this story.