You walk into a liquor store sober, and you're well over 30 years of age.
Usually the clerk just asks, debit or credit?
But at one new liquor store in Muldoon, Brown Jug in the Target mall, clerks must by law ask for a valid identification card from every customer, young or old.
And some Anchorage Assembly members think the same rule should apply citywide.
The Assembly voted Nov. 17 to make the ID checks a condition of giving a zoning permit to the new Brown Jug, which opened Nov. 27 in the Tikahtnu Commons mall at the Glenn Highway and Muldoon Road. The decision was in response to a furor at the Northeast Community Council.
Some Muldoon community activists think there are too many liquor stores in their neighborhood already. Council members in October took two votes aimed at curbing alcohol abuse. They voted 19-0 to request that liquor stores in their area check IDs of anyone who tries to buy alcohol. Then they opposed by a vote of 10-9 granting Brown Jug permission to operate in the Tikahtnu Commons.
Stuart Grenier, who proposed the council resolution requesting comprehensive ID checks, told the Assembly, "We've kind of had enough."
No one seems to know how effective universal ID checks in liquor stores will be, but the fact that Muldooners want such checks and the Assembly is considering taking the idea further shows the frustration level in Anchorage with street inebriates. The number of homeless alcoholics and addicts rose during 2008. Thirteen homeless people died outdoors in Anchorage this year. Many people are concerned for the welfare of street drunks, as well as for the cleanliness and safety of Anchorage trails, woods and parks.
Noting that Brown Jug is well-known for cleaning up the alcohol debris and other garbage in homeless camps, Grenier said that doesn't solve the problem. "It doesn't help if there are still drunks in the park, even if someone comes and picks up after them."
People are concerned that underage drinkers can get homeless inebriates to go into a store and buy alcohol for them. Also, Grenier says inebriated people leave unopened beer cans or partially full liquor bottles around Centennial Park near where he lives, and that alcohol is accessible to kids.
Grenier and others see carding everyone as a way to prevent sales to street drunks. The theory is many of the drunks don't have valid ID to show. Or at least, says Anchorage Police Lt. Garry Gilliam, having to produce ID will "prevent them from getting their hands on the alcohol as easily." It's another obstacle for a desperate, damaged person to overcome to get some booze.
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