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Wednesday, August 30, 2006 - Page updated at 02:15 PM

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Liquor board bans 29 fortified drinks in Seattle "impact areas"

Seattle Times staff reporter

The Washington State Liquor Control Board today approved a ban on 29 brands of fortified wine and beer for Seattle's "alcohol-impact areas."

The ban applies to neighborhoods covering more than six square miles of the city, including Capitol Hill, the Central Area, International District and University District.

The list of banned beverages includes cheap malt liquors, including Steel Reserve, Olde English 800 and Colt 45, and fortified wines such as Cisco and Thunderbird. Supporters of the ban say those products are favored by homeless alcoholics who cause problems in city neighborhoods.

Store owners in those neighborhoods will have to stop selling the prohibited products by Nov. 1.

The ban had been requested by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and endorsed by the City Council in response to neighborhood complaints about litter, panhandling and other problems associated with street drinking.

The chief opposition has come from owners of small, immigrant-owned convenience stores who fear the rules will drive them out of business.

Liquor Board Chairman Merritt Long said today that the board was persuaded by complaints by Seattle residents about street alcoholics in their neighborhoods. And he noted there are 4,000 other brands of beer available for sale in the state.

"There is not going to be a lack of beer or wine available," Long said.

Jim Brunner: 206-515-5628 or jbrunner@seattletimes.com

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