Details: White Center Business Forum on dealing with alcohol abusers

ORIGINAL 7:31 PM REPORT: That’s the scene a short time ago inside the Triangle Pub (owner Geoffrey “Mac” McElroy at left, White Center Chamber of Commerce president Mark Ufkes at right) as a White Center Business Forum event was convened to deal with “chronic, homeless alcoholics” in the area. Along with about a dozen business and community participants, there are reps from King County Sheriff’s Office and Seattle Police (including Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Norm James, as well as three state Liquor Control Board agents. We’ll have details soon on what was discussed and what happens next.

ADDED 1:26 AM:
Here’s the rest of the story, with more photos:

Ufkes introduced himself and Holy Family principal Frank Cantwell, immediate past president of the White Center Chamber. Ufkes said the meeting was trying to kickstart a grassroots movement that would deal with drinking in WC. He said the government and experts could be brought in to deal with the problem, but in the long run it was up to the people of the community to get involved and solve the problem. He said he went around and gave out invitations to about 30 business owners and he invited SPD to see what policies and procedures are available on the WS side of Roxbury.

Then McElroy spoke, saying that everyone who has a liquor license has a responsibility to themselves, the community, and their patrons to not overserve. He also pointed out that the bars are not so much the
problem – rather, it’s the places that sell single cans of malt liquor and other fortified beverages. He pointed out that he is inside the Seattle city limits, which segued to Lt. James.

The lieutenant (pictured above with Officer Jill Vanskike) said CPIs – Chronic Public Intoxication violators – are not much of a problem on the Seattle side. He said they usually pick up an individual here and there, and transport them to a government-run sobriety center. He also talked about the city’s Good Neighbor policy, targeting individual businesses selling alcoholic beverages, but short of setting up a special emphasis zone. He advised those interested in more information to get it through the Southwest Precinct.

King County Sheriff’s Deputy Gerald Meyer said it’s a very different matter on the unincorporated side, mostly because of what he called a core group of 15 to 20 individuals who are the ones who are routinely stopped or reported for public drunkenness. He said that most of the time these people are transported to a hospital, usually Highline, and they find their way back.

At this point the history of seeking a liquor-control zone came up and Lt. Woodrow Perkins from the Liquor Control Board talked about what’s needed for that to happen and how difficult it is to get one in place. He said that the current biggest hang up in getting things done is the lack of people calling his office to report offenses; he said he can get lots of people at a meeting to complain to him, but he can’t in turn get anyone to call – yet, until they call and give specifics, there’s very little he can do.

So what CAN be done? Deputy Vary Johnson talked about how any business, whether it sells liquor or not, can seek out a no-trespass kit from the KCSO storefront in White Center. Once the paperwork in the kit is done, she said business owners can then phone in a trespass complaint that will lead to a deputy coming out to remove the intoxicated person.

Meantime, Ufkes passed around an inventory his 15-year-old took of cans and bottles in the trash. He brought 3 cans of beer which he said were the most-frequently found. He said he hopes to make these meetings a regular event, and all who signed up on his sign-in sheet would get two weeks’ notice of the next one, when he’s hoping to see more WC business owners show up to participate.

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