EVERY MORNING, when Shawn Lee opens the Golden Star Deli-Mart, his modest convenience store on South King Street in the International District (I.D.), he recoils at the sight of homeless people (whom he calls drug dealers) across the street in Hing Hay Park. He says the place is crawling with them, and he wishes they'd go away.

Lucky for Lee, there's help: the "good neighbor agreement" that kicked in on May 1. The agreement is a new neighborhood pact requiring stores to stop selling low-cost, high-proof alcohol. It prohibits the sale of single cans of beer, beer containers bigger than 22 ounces, and alcohol sales from midnight to 2:00 a.m. and from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. These measures are meant to curb the sale of alcohol to customers who drink in public -- Lee's "drug dealers."

The I.D.'s mission to dry out street people is part of a burgeoning prohibitionist era in Seattle. At the same time that neighborhoods are cracking down on the poor man's alcohol, city council is making up booze rules that apply to certain areas of Seattle. Jan Drago led a city council hearing on Tuesday, May 2 to talk with the public about the first "Alcohol Impact Area" in Pioneer Square (from Alaskan Way South on the west, Columbia Street on the north, just shy of the stadiums on the south, and the I.D. on the east), where shops are also supposed to ban cheap alcohol. This is where city officials found the most "chronic public inebriates," or people drinking in public, according to a Drago staffer. They also reported about 2,000 alcohol-related incidents there last year.

The council is using the same good faith principals as the I.D. to restrict alcohol sales in Pioneer Square. However, the city has more leverage than the neighborhoods to make the voluntary ban mandatory, and is using the liquor board as a guard dog that could step in to enforce the rules after six months.

This is scary, because the rules that the liquor board would end up enforcing are suspect. They unfairly target poor people by outlawing affordable beer and wine (rich people can still buy booze and drink at home). Furthermore, by drying out segments of Seattle, the city is forcing consumers to flock to other parts of town for cheap booze. "Basically, you're just moving groups of drunks from one neighborhood to another neighborhood," says Lisa Herbold, aide to City Council Member Nick Licata. Herbold worries that the ban will push the homeless from Pioneer Square (ground zero for social services) into other neighborhoods that may not have the services they need.

Prohibition organizers claim that they're acting in the best interest of downtown alcoholics, and deny that they're targeting homeless people. Donald Lachman, a consultant hired by King County to map out Seattle's new alcohol restrictions, has met with I.D. business members to encourage efforts to target public drinkers, and says the neighborhood is helping to solve a public health problem by eliminating the products that street drunks buy.

The I.D. was the first neighborhood in Seattle that vowed to nix products presumed to attract people who drink in public. This is largely thanks to Aileen Balahadia, head of the Community Action Partnership, a residents' and police group that aims to clean up the I.D. Balahadia took the lead in waging the local war on street drunks, which started in 1996 with a string of community meetings about neighborhood priorities.

"Street drunks were a problem in our parks," says Balahadia. "There was a lot of trash and public urination. Nobody used the parks except for the drunks." She says that along with efforts by the Seattle police to hand out more tickets for public drinking, the city attorney's law excluding certain people from parks, and other "beautification" projects, the first good-neighbor agreement signed by store owners in 1998 helped clean up the community. Now the agreements are getting stricter.

The I.D. is not the only neighborhood trying to limit the sale of alcohol. For instance, University District, Magnolia, and Capitol Hill business members have shown an interest in creating their own Alcohol Impact Areas, but have to wait their turn. "We've just pretty much followed the lead of downtown consultants," says Kevin Guertin, outgoing executive director of the Businesses of Broadway.

Consultant Lachman assures neighborhood groups that the city's efforts to curb drinking are not discriminatory. "It's not a matter of being rich or poor," he says. "It's a matter of the outcomes of your drinking." But in the same breath he gives himself away: "The outcome of someone downtown living on the streets is different from that of someone living in Broadmoor." Ultimately, he concludes, stores are agreeing to ban "a very specific product targeted to a specific population. It's like the glass pipes for crack cocaine."