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Bill seeks to strengthen 'Good Neighbor' agreements


For years, it has been standard practice for both the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and Office of Neighborhood Involvement crime prevention staff to advise neighbors who have problems with and concerns about a liquor outlet to negotiate a Good Neighbor Agreement with the proprietors. This is a way to address issues such as noise, litter and parking problems. Unfortunately, such agreements are only as good as the ongoing good will of the parties involved; they are legally unenforceable.

This could change under a bill being drafted by state representative Lew Frederick and senator Chip Shields.

Under the bill, once both parties sign such an agreement, if there is “substantial or persistent non-compliance” with its terms by the liquor licensee, it would be “grounds for sanctions” by the OLCC.

Neighborhood associations parties to such agreements would have the right to be heard at any OLCC proceedings to “cancel or suspend the license or impose a civil penalty.” Finally, associations or local governments can ask the OLCC to compel licensees to participate in either mediation or binding arbitration.

One example in east Portland of a problem liquor outlet is Don's Dugout, a bar on Northeast Halsey Street at 116th Avenue in Gateway.

In February, the OLCC convened a three-day license revocation hearing.

According to the notice of hearing, because of “… a history of serious and significant problems involving disturbances, unlawful activity or noise either in the premises or involving patrons of the establishment in the immediate vicinity of the premises, including, but not limited to excessive noise, public drunkenness, fights, altercations and harassment, OLCC seeks to revoke the bar's license.

After the hearing, the judge has 45 days to write the order. After the decision, each side has 15 days to provide exceptions, and then the order goes to OLCC Commissioners for a final decision.

At the earliest, the decision will be read at commissioners' April meeting, according to Christie Scott, OLCC public affairs specialist.
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