Newsom to Tenderloin: No morning booze 

Tenderloin merchants are being asked to voluntarily comply with an alcohol sales restriction program slated to start this summer, said Mayor Gavin Newsom, who has championed the effort as a way to discourage the poor and homeless from drinking.

Newsom first mentioned targeting the Tenderloin and "chronic inebriates" during his State of the Homeless speech in December, promising to create an "alcohol impact area" to restrict liquor-store owners from selling certain types of alcohol products as well as limit the hours during which alcohol could be sold.

At the time, Newsom said he’d like to start by prohibiting the sale of single containers of high-alcohol beverages and not allowing the sale of alcohol in the Tenderloin between the hours of 5 and 9 a.m.

City representatives are negotiating with Tenderloin merchants about the parameters of the restriction agreement, which they’ll be asked to sign.

Merchants who participate will be promoted as "good neighbors," in an effort to encourage voluntary compliance for the program, Newsom said, adding, "the only way we can be punitive is by working with the state ABC [Alcohol Beverage Control], and that’s a longer process."

Tenderloin police Captain Gary Jimenez, who said he hasn’t been involved in the negotiations with merchants, said a mandatory alcohol restriction had the potential to discourage drinking in the Tenderloin and push out the criminal activity that comes with chronic public inebriation.

"Will the liquor stores do it? That’s another thing," Jimenez said. "There’s some decent operators out there who will agree to this. The other guys won’t get the promotion, but they’ll make twice the money than they were before."

Jimmy Shamieh, of the Arab American Grocers Association, said the organization’s members in the Tenderloin wanted to help make the neighborhood a better place to work and live, but did not want to jeopardize their safety by refusing to sell alcohol or reduce their livelihood for a potentially unrealistic goal.

"We will be happy to partner with The City, provided that other aspects of the issue of alcoholism are addressed," Shamieh said.

beslinger@examiner.com

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