Community Post

Time To Fight: Bogus Rules Limit Dining in the CD

Remember back in July when the city permitting process kept us from getting a nice little restaurant and bar at 25th & Union? It’s happening again, but this time there’s different agencies involved.

I know I was one of many people looking forward to the Twilight Exit’s move over to 25th & Cherry. But I got an email today from Stephan, Twilight’s owner, saying that it may not happen at all now due to the actions of the Seattle school district.  They’ve filed a formal objection (attached below) to the Twilight’s application to move their liquor license to the new location due to its supposed proximity to Garfield.  State law gives them that option for any liquor application within 500 feet of a school or church.  (you’ll note that the Twilight’s proposed location is 987 feet from the closest door of Garfield.  Not sure how that gives the school veto under RCW 66.24.010(9))

This is beyond bogus.  This neighborhood will never develop any of the necessary amenities of urban life if this kind of thing is allowed to persist.  You can’t walk a block around here without passing a school or church of some sort. 

Looking forward to getting something at 23rd & Cherry?  Never gonna happen.  

Want to see a bigger business district develop on Union?  There’s any number of churches and schools around that could prevent it with a simple written request.

And what is so overwhelmingly silly about all of this is that we have a multitude of utterly crappy, crime-prone, blight-on-the-neighborhood convenience stores that have liquor licenses and sell all sorts of alcohol to all comers. And they never seem to lose their licenses no matter what they do.  For example, the AM/PM at 23rd & Cherry has been a horrible neighbor to everyone within 4 blocks, and it’s more than 100 feet closer to Garfield than Twilight would be. Where do you think it’s more likely that a high school kid will get some booze:  at a well-run neighborhood bar & restaurant, or at a demonstrably poorly run convenience store? Added: The Tana Market convenience store has a liquor license and it is in the same building that the Twilight wants to move in to!

Plus, where does the school district get off trying to throw their weight around about what goes on in our neighborhood?  After two years of non-stop construction at Garfield that we all had to endure?  After the crime that a few Garfield students and hangers-on have inflicted on neighbors around the campus?

It’s time to make all of our voices heard.  Call, email, and snail-mail everyone involved and tell them you support the Twilight as a great neighborhood business and want to have some adult dining and entertainment options in your neighborhood:

Liquor Control Board:

Reference: License # 400432 – 2D 

Email: [email protected]

PO Box 43075
3000 Pacific Avenue SE
Olympia, WA 98504-3075

Seattle Public Schools:

  • Ron English – Deputy General Counsel – 206-252-0651 or 206-252-0110
  • Ted Howard – Garfield Principal – [email protected] – 206-252-2270


0 thoughts on “Time To Fight: Bogus Rules Limit Dining in the CD

  1. Those of us with long memories (or access to Google) remember a similar veto from Bailey Gatzert Elementary School:

    Bill Zosel (quoted several times in the article) should remember more. As I recall, the school veto was withdrawn after much input from the neighborhood [and the Mayor’s Office] and the restaurant did indeed open. It closed soon thereafter: maybe somebody recalls why. An intrinsically problematic location, I suspect: a triangle with multi-lane arterial on all 3 sides!

  2. I just e-mailed the Liquor Control Board and the principal of Garfield and left a voice mail message for Ron English. Can we start a petition? I am so frustrated by this.

  3. If you are talking about La Louisiana, yes the objection was over come and I believe a good neighbor agreement was signed by the then owners. The restaurant changed hands a couple of times and the last owners couldn’t get it together to manage it well so it closed. The original owner of La Louisiana didn’t want to disclose his financial information to secure a liquor license.

    As Scott stated, Garfield owes this community a whole lot. I am wondering if the EPCC Precinct Liasion Tienney Milnor, from the City Attorney’s Office, can offer any expertise in this situation. In the meantime I am writing and calling to get my neighborhood back.

  4. I don’t think Garfield is within 500 feet. The tennis courts, baseball field, and community center — everything north of Jefferson — appears to be owned by the City Department of Parks and Recreation, according to King County property records. The School District owns the property south of Jefferson, including the track and football field. The School District also owns the Nova building, which is of course within 500 feet of the proposed bar.

  5. The letter to the Liquor Board from Ron English does ask Steve to contact the school to see if an agreement can be worked out. That’s hopeful.

    Meanwhile, write, people, write. Write everyone, Mr Howard, Mr English, Ms Milnor and the Liquor Control Board. This is cr*p. Scott is right, we’ve been held captive by the crappy convenience stores while the legit restaurants face a storm of objections. Speak up!! We’ll need numbers here.

  6. The restaurant and bar near Bailey Gatzert School mentioned by Andrew was the Rocket. It took Paula Carson many, many months to get her liquor license. I’m sure I don’t know all of the story, but having met with the school principal, Ron English, and Paula Carson, I would say that piling comments on the Liquor Board and bombarding the school is not likely to be the best approach. At least first talk to the Garfield administration to see what their concerns are and if they can reasonably be met. In the case of the Rocket, Carson only got her license after entering into an agreement, mostly regarding limiting the day time hours of serving alcohol, as I recall. The school has all the cards here. Andrew also suggests other allies of the kind that may be important. There are organizations and policy makers that have an interest in encouraging economic development in areas with less than their share. They might count more than dozens of neighbors.

  7. I did call Ron English on Thursday and left a message that i would like to discuss his concerns about my liquor license. I have yet to hear from him or anyone else from the school district. I’ve also be in contact with my lawyer, david osggod, he said that the school district’s objection within 500 feet only works if there has never been a license at that address especially if the proximity to the school is their only stated concern. there have been two licenses in that spot in the past. I would love for as many people to chime in as possible, but please be nice. The last thing we need is for the powers that be feel antagonized. Thanks everyone for your support.

  8. Shocked, I am shocked!!

    I won’t go through my disliked rant about north of the ship canal bias, or how many schools in other neighborhoods have restaurants that serve beer, wine, etc. near them.

    But it is good to finally see some outrage and then concerned organized action to address these decades old double standards.

    Yes, I can and will write very nice polite but to the point letters.

  9. Outrage should be a least as important when the Seattle School District wants to close a school, especially TT Minor.

  10. Thurgood Marshall Elementary’s principal did the same thing to Casuelita. Don’t know how it all worked out, but I think Casuelita did get their beer and wine license.

    The story:

    I for one am plenty outraged about the school closures (and yes, I have been active on the issue). But that’s a discussion for a different thread. Your move, joanna.

  11. I’ll believe that (Nova closing) when I see it. All the closures are shifting around, the plan seems to change every week.

  12. Oh for God’s sake. WHY do we still have the Liquor Control Board??? That sort of thing should have been handed off to the local jurisdictions, and the enforcement off to the local police, long ago.

    While we’re at it, let’s act like every NORMAL state in the union, and just let the grocery stores sell liquor. They did that in Iowa when I was in college, for God’s sake, and the state has managed to survive.

    Lastly, why this faux concern about bars near schools or churches? Kids can’t go in bars. If they do, it’s a matter for the police. On the other hand, Church goers have a choice. Maybe the churches are afraid of competition?

    Absolutely Ridiculous

  13. Yes I agree!! I understand that Summit K-12 may be relocated to TT Minor.

    Regardless why are most of the closures south of the ship canal??!!??

  14. If a bar is near a school in the North End it received a waiver as did the Madrona Ale House. The owners met with both the school administration and the PTSA there and asked them to sign a letter requesting a waiver as a part of the application for a liquor license. The discussions went well and very productive. I believe the School District is obligated to take this action if they have not been approached before or during the process.

    As for Garfield owing the community, I’m not sure why you say that. Garfield serves this community well and is a school for which we should feel some pride.

    I would not advocate relaxing the rules for the types of businesses near schools. For instance, it protects the character of a community from let say “strip clubs” opening in the area. I’m sure that there may be some who disagree but this is a no-brainer for me. Certainly gathering letters of support from community to include with the waiver might help, letters attesting to the Twilight as being a good neighbor, trouble free and contributing to the community might help the process. But, I agree with Bill that first meeting with the administration and the parent group will be the most productive and efficient means to a good outcome.

  15. I guess the thing that bugs me is how we can have “vibrant communities” in our “world-class city” with these provincial bureaucracies like the WSLCB inserting themselves into the mix with their byzantine rules. The Mayberry-esque idea that we can’t have a bar near a school, even though students are specifically prohibited from entering that bar, and the bar does most of its business during the hours the school is closed is laughable – particularly when you consider those same students have ample access to illegal, unregulated drugs on the city streets pretty much 24/7.

    (Wow. Sorry for the run-on sentence. Let me catch my breath here…. Ok, now onto churches..)

    And why, when any schmuck off the street can literally rent an empty storefront and open a “church” the next day, would we even consider input from churches on this issue?

    The WSLCB has a rotten reputation for arbitrary enforcement, corrupt officials, and harassment of minorities. The GSBA was formed by a handful of gay bar owners because of the shakedowns they were getting from the SPD and the WSLCB. For decades they protected a handful of really awful wine makers from any sort of competition. They are not a responsible party to be arbitrating a disagreement between the school system and a restaurant owner.

    I realize that bars can be problems and blights, but we don’t seem to be able to prevent that in the current system. In any event, an arbitrary 500 feet doesn’t protect kids from the effects of a bad bar.

    Maybe what we need is review of liquor licenses on a five year basis, getting community input, like radio and TV stations used to have to do. Maybe we do that now, but it doesn’t seem like it.

    OK. I’m getting off my soapbox now.

  16. The proposed Twilight Exit location is next to NOVA, not Garfield. Be sure to include the principal and administrators there in addition to Garfield HS.

  17. I hope you’ll support the liquor license application for the Twilight Exit, despite the objection from the school board. I’ve been a patron of the Twilight for about three years. It has been a neighborhood fixture in an area with few such amenities. During the days when Deano’s was an open-air drug market, the Twilight was a bastion of normalcy. Stephan has never tolerated drug use or dealing in the Twilight, and his bar brought normal, law-abiding neighbors to a part of our neighborhood that many would otherwise have avoided. The clientele at the Twilight is very diverse, both racially and age-wise, and includes artists, musicians, retirees and blue- and white-collar professionals. It is a friendly place that serves good-quality food. It will be missed by many when it leaves its current location at 21st and Madison.

    If you happen by 25th and Cherry you’ll see a number of shuttered businesses. The old La Louisiana space has seen at least three restaurants come and go. The current economic anchors are a liquor store and the AM/PM which has long been a center for misbehavior. Stephan has shown the ability to make a business successful in a marginal commercial area. In a block that sorely needs economic development by experienced entrepreneurs, the new Twilight represents the re-location of an existing successful business that has been a positive force in the Central District for almost ten years. Our community needs local entrepreneurs like Stephan to create the kind of nighttime activity that helps make a neighborhood vibrant and safe.

    I encourage the Liquor Board to leverage its license-granting authority to help our neighborhood continue to develop economically and socially into a denser, more diverse, more urban community.

  18. I don’t think the School Board has a position on this beyond supporting the staff in carrying out routine duties. I would probably support the application as would many, but would like to know that the meetings went well. Many good establishments that serve liquor are given waivers. There is no reason to believe that won’t happen here.

    Schools provide a calming area in even dense urban communities.

    Yes, NOVA should be included.

  19. This makes no sense.
    What about the push for urban villages/urban density? The big pitch of being able to walk to all that a city has to offer?
    Yet people in the CD can’t even stroll over to their local bar and hang out with their neighbors? We are forced to use crappy public transportation or drive (gasp) just to have a drink?

  20. This is a city with nine different fixes for the viaduct and 30 years of hemming and hawing over light rail, so should we really be stunned by inept governing?

    What this really demonstrates is the utter lack of understanding of the issues with the neighborhood. Have they asked Capt McDonaugh about the Twilight? I’d bet he would tell them, “give me more resources to deal with 23rd and Union and the AM/PM at 23rd and Cherry.” Shoot, that AM/PM is a place where people openly sell drugs, just steps away from one of the largest high schools in the city. And they’re worried about a hipster bar (not pejorative!) famous for it’s karaoke?!?!

    In some measure, this does speak to the need for an organized community group (Cen District Neighborhood Assoc-CDNA for example) that can robustly voice our support for the Twilight and like minded businesses. In the meantime, this is a great forum to develop a coherent strategy to get our views known.

  21. keep the faith! you have so many neighbors (the silent majority) who will be thrilled with your presence. we’ll get there

  22. It is just a step in the process.

    I would argue that the issue of the AM/PM being near a school should be addressed. I don’t the exact number of feet from Garfield. It is obviously near a community center serving youth.

    I don’t believe that it is stunning that the schools would want to have discussions with establishments that serve liquor near a school before signing a waiver. Even in my small town which placed little value on education, the location of a bar near a school would have been scrutinized.

  23. I agree almost entirely with the article, but – let’s not trash the people who work at the AM/PM. I live a block away and I don’t think you can blame the problems there entirely on them. They are largely friendly and responsive and I think do the best they can dealing with some pretty ugly situations.

  24. I don’t really have an opinion either way on whether the twilight should be allowed to operate near NOVA and Garfield. I don’t see it’s presence there posing much of a risk to high school kids.

    What irks me is seeing comments that repeatedly attempt to blame individual businesses for much larger social issues. It is not the fault of the ampm that there are drug issues in the CD. The owners and operators of the minimart did not set up our country’s social structures that have systematically disenfranchised particular groups of people for years. Yes to personal responsibility and all the good things about social conservatism, but come on people, try not to be ahistorical – it’s a very intellectually lazy position. You can’t solve these problems by closing businesses. Crime just moves elsewhere unless you try to deal with it’s root causes. So, if you are really interested in community, how far does that go? If crime is out of sight is it out of mind? If it moves from 23rd and Cherry to Rainier and Cloverdale, what have you gained? Life just got better for you, but worse for residents of the south end. And, perhaps most importantly, it stayed the same for those most affected by it – the people who are caught up in it and are displaced once again.

    As for Garfield owing the community, that seems kind of weird – Garfield is the community. Garfield has been around since 1920 and has graduated many of the most influential voices in seattle politics and culture. If Garfield owes the community anything it would be to make the outstanding opportunities it offers to the lucky and privileged few who are it it’s AP program available to all of it’s students. If you want fewer kids on the corner, make school more interesting.

    And let’s remember, just because we participate in online forums, that doesn’t mean we are the community any more so than all of the other neighborhood residents who do not for whatever reason do so.

  25. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for a little over 2 years now. The thought of some decent restaurants or bars moving in is very exciting to me. All we have now are sketchy convenience stores and a red apple. It’s frustrating having to get in the car to go grab dinner (in a different neighborhood) when there are established businesses that want to move into our neighborhood. There are new town houses going up all over the city. I would want to buy one where I could at least walk somewhere, anywhere, to grab a bite to eat or catch up with friends over a drink. The central district needs places like this! I fully support the Twilight in their move to the CD!

    On a separate note, I own envy on the corner of 25th and Union. I was drawn to the space in part because of the wine bar, Trist, that was supposed to be moving in. I knew a bar, especially one that would be run by the owners of the Bottleneck Lounge, would have been a great draw for people in the neighborhood. I think it’s just what we needed to entice other businesses into the area, not to mention I would have had a great neighbor and local hangout! It was a sad day when I found out that the city denied their liquor license.

  26. Just wanted to post here to let you know that I have written, called and emailed all the involved parties to very politely insist that The Twilight Exit is exactly the sort of business that my neighborhood needs. And to voice my objections to the idea that a restuarant and bar that opens at 5 pm is somehow a threat to schools, when a mini-mart in the same building is open and selling alcohol at 7 am.

    I have supported the Twilight since day one that it opened, and I’m not about to stop now!

  27. Does anyone have a contact e-mail for TE or Stephan? I thought they may want to have copies or be cc’d on letters of support.

  28. …i’d be happy to put together a letter to the WSLCB in support to Twilight’s effort and others can sign it as well. We could do this under the umbrella of the CD Neighborhood Association or as individuals.

  29. I was driving by the proposed spot for the Twilight Exit this morning and noticed that the orange liquor license paper was no longer in the window. Did they give up on the spot? I wonder if leasing the space on 23rd and Cherry would be better?
    I was very happy to hear that they were moving close to our house. It would have been nice to have a restaurant/watering hole within walking distance.

  30. I spoke with Ron English from the Seattle School Board. They want make sure the Police Dept. doesn’t have any objections. As far as i know they don’t. The two week comment period has ended and they did not object. However, this two way non-communication between to government offices seems to be going very slowly. And, with the holidays coming up…who knows how long it will take for the police department to call Mr. English back. The school Board also wants me to sign a “good neighbor agreement” which states that i cannot serve alcohol before 5pm or after 10pm and not at all on Sundays. That, to me, is a deal breaker. there is no way my business or employees could survive only being open 30 hours a week. I wish i could get the schools to sign a good neighbor agreement. I’m removing graffiti from my building almost on a daily basis. I am however still hopeful to open early next year. Thanks for all the support. I really think that was key in getting their attention.

  31. You could revise the agreement and try to reach a deal with the school district.

    Agree to Open from 4-12 Monday through Saturday. Noon to 10pm Sunday.

  32. I just heard from Ron English (deputy general counsel of the seattle school board) and i looks like we’ve reached an agreement and the twilight exit will relocate to cherry st. haven’t signed anything yet, but it seems as if i just have to take care of a bit of red tape and we’re good.

  33. This is terrific news. Congratulations. We look forward to welcoming you to this part of the CD. It’ll be nice to have a pub/eatery to go to nearby.