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San Rafael Mayor Looks To End Cheap Alcohol Access For City's Homeless

SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) - The City of San Rafael is considering making it tougher for the homeless to buy alcohol.

After hearing complaints of drunk homeless people loitering on downtown streets, Mayor Gary Phillips wants liquor stores to stop carrying low-end vodka and malt liquors. He says the high-alcohol content beverages are often targeted at addicts the homeless and teens.

Colonial Liquors on Tamalpias Avenue has volunteered to become the first adopter of the new policy, according to the Marin Independent Journal. The store owner has agreed to stop selling six types of malt liquor and cheaper vodkas.

The shops owner told the paper that only about six percent of the store's sales involve homeless people, but he believes removing the affordable liquors could get better paying customers in the door.

For now the program is entirely voluntary, but Phillips said he envisions other stores adopting the policy.

"I'm hoping they'll follow suit. Maybe that's too optimistic, but we'll see," he told the paper.

Last year the city's police, in partnership with the St. Vincent dePaul Society faced criticism over creating zones where the homeless were told they were not welcome.

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