Editor’s Note: This opinion piece is a community post by the East Precinct Advisory Council. CDN would like to remind you that anyone can post to the site by clicking “Post” in the navigation bar.
For the past year and a half, the Mayor’s Office has been promoting the “Seattle Nightlife Initiative” (SNI), a plan that focuses on extending hours for select Seattle nightclubs to serve alcohol past the current 2 AM cut-off.
The City’s petition to extend alcohol service hours was developed collaboratively with the Seattle Nightlife & Music Association (SNMA – a group of Seattle nightclubs) intended to ‘Solve the 2:00 AM Push Out’–There are those who believe that the trouble that occurs when nightclubs close at 2:00 AM can be avoided by staggering closing hours. However, the negative residual issues that could occur with this proposed plan far outweigh any benefits. The extended hours plan will mainly increase liquor revenues to nightclubs – not improve public safety or create a socially responsible drinking environment—or ‘a more vibrant nightlife’. It serves the few in the private, special interest (nightclubs) category, not the many residents who would be impacted by noise, DUIs and alcohol-fueled violence.
During the summer of 2010, the Mayor’s Office sponsored several citywide community meetings to introduce the SNI proposal. The vast majority of attendees were adamantly against this plan, citing significant concerns about negative impacts to local communities. Afterwards, Precinct Advisory Councils and other neighborhood organizations wrote letters to the Mayor and City Council voicing their opposition. Regardless of this broad community opposition, the proposal went forward anyway as a petition to the Liquor Control Board to extend hours for alcohol service. (Note: Recent surveys, distributed to target groups by the City, are being referenced by the City as community approval of this plan.)
Currently, the plan is under review by the Washington State Liquor Control Board for a “Proposed Rules Change”, which would allow Seattle to “create an area within the jurisdiction to extend service hours beyond 2 AM.” -Which “area” would be designated? This has not been identified. Public comment will be accepted until December 1, 2011. The Board will be asked to approve the proposed rules by December 7th, public hearings will follow in January, and the Board could vote to adopt the rule by the end of January.
Citizens have expressed several concerns and questions about this initiative:
Ø The City and State are struggling with a significant budget shortfall. Liquor control agent staff has been reduced to four for the entire city, and local police resources are already limited. Where will funds for regulation and enforcement come from?
Ø Will police staffing to monitor and respond to late night drinking and all its problems be at the expense of other citywide public safety needs?
Ø How will the City and County afford the proposed 24-hour public transport to get patrons home safe?
Ø How will noise, throughout the night, every night, will be managed? (Note: Seattle has not, to our knowledge, issued a noise violation, despite numerous complaints by residents, the process is very cumbersome)
Ø If liquor service hours are extended until 6 AM, doesn’t that mean 24-hour alcohol sales – and no cut off?
Ø If this becomes a pilot program in Seattle, what zone will be chosen? Won’t patrons from outlying areas come to the extended hours zone, adding additional mass in the streets?
Ø Do you think young people (who will likely take advantage of extended hours) should be given the choice to have another drink or two or three at say, 4am?
Ø Why is the City supporting the Seattle Nightlife & Music Association? This special interest group of bar owners is pushing this initiative through Seattle elected officials. Hasn’t this same special interest group made significant campaign contributions and won’t it profit if the extended hours proposal is passed?
The East Precinct Advisory Council, along with the West and South Precinct Advisory Councils, and the Central Seattle Drug-Free Communities Coalition, have voted to oppose this proposed rules change. The vast majority of the North Precinct Advisory Council members are opposed to the initiative as well; however, they have not yet taken a formal vote. We want to stop this petition before it is passed in early December!
The Precinct Advisory Councils, The Drug-Free Communities Coalition and Citizens For A Responsible, Not Reckless Drinking Environment (RNR) ask that you object to this proposal! We are urging you to write to the Liquor Control Board expressing your opposition to the plan. The deadline for this phase of the Rules Change Pre-Proposal Petition is December 1, 2011!
For complete information on Seattle’s petition to open rule-making on extended hours of alcohol service:
Please email call, fax or write your objection before the December 1
PO Box 43080
Olympia, WA 98504-3080
- · Sharon Foster, Chair, of Olympia,
[email protected], 360.664.1711
- · Ruthann Kurose, of Mercer Island,
[email protected], 360.664.1715
- · Chris Marr, of Spokane,
[email protected], 360.664.1713
Thank you for your commitment to public safety!
It’s unfortunate there is so much misinformation in this article.
First, a little history. In Greg Nickels’ second term, he and Tom Carr put together a very onerous Nightlife Ordinance in response to several serious problems at a few nightclubs in Seattle. The Ordinance was shut down by council because they believed it went too far. But we were then left with the issue of the problems associated with a few clubs, and the general problems around the 2am push out.
Since that time, responsible bar, restaurant and nightclub owners have worked with the City and business groups to bring the problem clubs into compliance or have them closed (see the story around the V Bar in Belltown as an example). One of the issue we saw as a problem that needed to be addressed in our industry was the so called 2am push out. Around closing time, all bars and clubs push people out into the street at the same time. In zones where there are many bars, restaurants, clubs, the streets get packed and there is a lot of noise and sometimes violence as a result. Police resources get tapped. Criminals come into the area to target the people on the street.
We worked with the Liquor Board to see what cities around the world were doing. Many cities with the same issues had decided to extend or stagger closing times. In fact, whole countries have done this. Not to mention many states in the US. When done properly, what they saw was a lessening of pressure on police resources around closing time and less problems overall. There are no data showing an increase in drunk driving or violence.
In Seattle, we were able to learn from others’ experience, and noted that the big issue was what else happened to support the extended hours. So prior to a push for extended hours, the City put into place the other 7 parts of the 8 part nightlife initiative –
* Code compliance enforcement,
* noise ordinance enforcement,
* security training requirements,
* precinct community outreach,
* professional development,
* late-night transportation alternatives, and
* targeting public nuisances.
In doing this, there was a new, stronger noise ordinance put into place, a new nuisance ordinance that allows Police to ticket bad behavior at night, etc. Last is the idea of extended hours. The idea is simple – allow bars to close when they want, instead of forcing them to close at the same time. Issue them a new license (which brings in more revenue to the City to pay for more police), and allow the City to attach requirements to that license including a transportation plan and a safety plan. The license can be easily pulled by the City, instead of only by the State as is the current liquor license. This give much more local control to the City. We will get rid of the push out. We get rid of the current problem of not enough can service for the amount of people all on the street at once at the current closing time. We get rid of the crowds and the noise. We do not encourage binge drinking near closing time as we do now.
This plan will lighten the drag on Police at closing time. It will decrease drunk driving. And it will bring more revenue to the city. And yes, in certain cases some bars, restaurants and clubs, as well as other small businesses that operate late night like cafes, bookstores, record stores, etc, may make more money – which creates more jobs, and again raises tax revenues (this is a good thing!).
The 8 points of the plan will work together to form a safer nightlife. This has worked all over the world. Plus, what the City is proposing is a pilot program, that will be reevaluated by many stakeholders including the Seattle Police and community groups. If the plan isn’t successful it will be fixed or canceled.
This is a plan supported by the entire City Council, the City Attorney, the Seattle Police, the King County Executive, the King County Sheriff, and the State Patrol, as well as many in the local delegation to the State legislature. It’s something that is working around the world. And we have the opportunity to implement it in a better fashion than anywhere else has.
If you want to get rid of the extreme crowds and noise that happen around 2am, support extended hours. Or at least wait to see how it goes before you kill an idea that could help solve the problem.
More mis-information from the little old ladys of the Moral Majority.
I totally support this. This is great overall. People are happier, and it will spread out the mass of people needing taxi, police etc.
I am not sure why there are oppositions.
Anyone that has ever been to a bar a closing time knows the chaos that follows. It just makes no sense to have people doing shots at last call then driving home. Stagger or extend closing times. Kill the old blue laws, let people live a little.
This seems more like one of those “yes on proposition whatever” ads. This is not news. It’s opinion. What’s next in the CD News? A “news” story by Michele Bachmann about the dangers of inoculations? And, by the way I’m not necessarily for or against extended hours for bars (I know it’s appropriate for some neighborhoods) I’m just against opinion pass passing for news. We already have enough of that from FOX.
As a member of the North Precinct Advisory Council, it is not true that a vast majority of our group is opposed. We do recognize that the current status is not providing the desired public safety results and that society as whole has changed in the ways and the hours that we socialize. Young legal aged adults are out much later then in generations past causing a swelling at the current last call hour of 2 am. We are committed to helping Seattle become a more safe & vibrant city for all. One of the main complaints from neighborhood groups is around noise at bar closing time, not from noise when the people are in the establishments. There is also the problem of a shortage of taxi’s available at the 2 am push out, increasing the crowd issues. Allowing for people to leave when they want to will help not hurt. I also sit on the Washington State Restaurant Associations Board and we to support these efforts. It’s easy to criticize businesses, oppose change and use baseless scare tactics, but really looking at the complex issues and working to evolve as a great city for all (including young legal aged adults) takes more effort and a willingness to break out of our us vs. them posturing.
Not news, and not by CDN. This is an opinion community post from the East Precinct Advisory Council. As you know, anyone can post on CDN. I have modified the headline to better reflect that the piece was written by EastPAC.
NPAC representatives sent the following letter to to Liquor Control Board:
The mayor of Seattle has asked that the LCB open its rule making process to consider the idea of allowing 24/7 liquor service. I’m opposed to that idea and ask that you not open the process and to not consider this rule change. Partly I think that extended service hours would do more harm than good. But I’m also very disappointed in the way this process was started by the Mayor and his staff.
The city petition information states:
“Two recent polls found broad public support for such an extension, with more than 75% of over 4,000 participants indicating a preference for extended alcohol service hours.3 City outreach to 14 community meetings over the course of 4 months also showed overwhelming support, provided that all other elements of the Nightlife Initiative are completed.”
This is at least partly untrue. I know that the first poll was only marketed to those groups and media predisposed in general to be supportive of the idea. Other groups and areas of the city that were likely to be less supportive were much less likely to even know about the proposal or the poll until after the poll period was finished. I have no way of knowing if this was intentional or not. The effect was the same – skewed results that favor the rule change.
In addition, the public outreach process was seriously flawed. The Seattle Police North Precinct Advisory Council, which represents about 40% of the city area and population, was only given the proposal at the very last minute, with virtually no time to consider the proposal before the comment period (to the city) was closed. And the vast majority of the North Precinct Advisory Council members are not in favor. Also, the East Precinct Advisory Council board is not in favor of extended service hours. ‘Broad community support’ simply is not true.
I would also like to propose an idea. Would it be possible to reduce the liquor service hours of troublesome establishments? A reduction of service hours could be used as an incentive to bring establishments that have violations or other problems back into compliance. Temporary closings or license revocations can be a business-destroying event. Perhaps a reduction in service hours could be a useful tool that could be used short of closing down a place.
Also, I’d like to propose that you consider the idea that certain areas of the city might benefit from a general reduction in service hours, given the disruption that late night clubbing and late night drinking can bring to mixed-use neighborhoods such as Fremont, the University District, or Belltown. Many residents would find great relief if clubs stopped their operations earlier than 2am. I remember on one of my recent trips to London, England were we found that in the neighborhood were we had dinner one night there was a large number of vibrant clubs, but the clubs started to close down around midnight. Everyone had their fun, just not until all hours of the morning. It seemed very sensible to me. And it seemed very civilized. Perhaps certain areas of Seattle (and other cities) would benefit from slightly shorter service hours.
I think that if we all are going to consider the idea of expanded service hours, then it would only be fair to also consider the idea of reduced hours, both as a tool to enforce compliance for specific troublesome locations, andas a more general tool to improve the quality of life in certain areas.
Also, if LCB does decide to move forward with this rule changing consideration process, and IF there is some implementation of extended service hours, then I ask that you only allow a test period and/or test area(s), with an automatic reversion to the old (present) hours and rules while a thorough review of the test is conducted. I think that would be prudent and reasonable, not to mention responsible.
SPD North Precinct Advisory Council
City Wide Advisory Council
SPD Domestic Violence Victim Support Team volunteer
Seattle Municipal Community Court Advisory Board
Don’t just extend the hours. Do away with them. Why should the government be telling people when they can and can not drink. Let people go home when they’re ready, the club closes at their chosen time, or the existing “do not serve when obviously drunk” laws get them cut off.
The above is NOT a letter from the North Precinct Advisory Council. It’s from one member trying to pretend he speak for the entire council and community, but who obviously does not.
Just to make it clear, the SPD reiterated today, including the Captain of the East Precinct, that they support the plan to have staggered or extended closing times.
So does the entire City Council – http://council.seattle.gov/2011/07/25/seattle-city-council-u
And here’s a quote from another article ( http://www.queenanneview.com/tag/seattle-police/)
“We believe that this initiative will strengthen public safety as well as promote a vibrant nightlife. We fully support this effort,“ Diaz said in a statement. Given that police resources are often challenged at Seattle’s blanket 2 a.m. closing time, many in law enforcement say this, along with other components of the Initiative, will help them maintain public safety and allow them to deploy officers more effectively. Last August the city passed another initiative aimed at helping combat difficult closing times allowing officers to dish out $100 tickets for fighting, threatening others, or making excessive or “unreasonable noise” in public areas between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m.
“The City Attorney’s Office will work with the Mayor, SPD and the City Council to ensure that the proposed rule changes provide comprehensive safeguards that will ensure public safety,” Holmes said. “The extended hours program will succeed if we anticipate and plan for problems that may arise.”
Hi Dave Meinert:
(Note- for those of you who don’t know, Dave Meinert is a local music and nightlife promoter, http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/pacificnw/2012302278_p)
Here you go, on a few of your points:
1. “The 2am Push Out”: So, what’s to keep everyone from outlying areas, like Redmond, Woodinville, Tukwila, etc., from driving into Seattle and hitting the streets near the bars with extended hours? (Hey, I would’ve -back in the days when nightlife was affordable and cool with ALL live music) Don’t you just add to the problem of crowds in the streets?
2. “Noise ordinance enforcement”: Does anyone really know whether Seattle has ever issued a noise violation to a nightclub? The answer is, NO, they have not. The city has no program for this, no plan, except the idea of calling the police if you can’t sleep because of nightclub noise and getting a trained SPD expert with a noise-o-meter (I’m serious) that measures decibels inside homes with doors and windows shut.
3. “Issue bars a new license”: Only the State Liquor Board issues licenses and/or license amendments.
a)…“which brings in more revenue to the City to pay for more police” The money goes to the state.
b)…”allow the City to attach requirements to that license including a transportation plan”. The City doesn’t attach requirements, the state does. So… the bars are going to have busses available to provide patrons door-to-door transportation?
c) …”The license can be easily pulled by the City, instead of only by the State”. These are state, not city licenses. Only the state can pull a state license. Once you have it, it’s really hard to back out of it. Belltown’s V Bar got a rare emergency suspension of their liquor license because they had a shooting just outside their bar and a fight inside their bar…You need lots of evidence and extraordinary circumstances to this, it happens rarely. And, is it the bar’s responsibility to manage patrons’ behavior on the streets, in neighborhoods, on the road while driving? This is not about what happens AT the bar. It’s after they leave.
4. …”We do not encourage binge drinking near closing time as we do now”. I didn’t know you encouraged this. So adding a few hours for liquor consumption will help?
5.…”It will decrease drunk driving”. Don’t get this, unless the door-to-door transportation idea really happens.
So – Where is the money? Where is the staffing? With what resources?
AND, why does a vibrant nightlife have to center around liquor? Nightclubs can stay open as long as they want now; why don’t they support live music and great late-night food instead? Plenty of people would come out for that. Couldn’t clubs pay a fee to operate a music venue and use the money to hire musicians? ….That’s what I want to know….
Pete Rogerson is a designated representative of the chair of the North Precinct Advisory Council.
Don’t the police work for the City?
Everyone who works for the city does not have to have the same opinion. Duh.
Answers for you
– There is nothing to keep people from driving in from other areas to go out in Seattle. In fact, they already do this. Will it bring more people? Maybe, and that’s a good thing. Crowds are already a problem – but only at closing time resulting from the mandatory closing time. Adding more people to the inside of businesses won’t increase the problem if the closing times are staggered. Doing nothing is the problem. The status quo that you support is not safe. We need a solution, and the Nightlife Initiative is that solution. It’s why we saw fewer problems with nightlife this summer already. And with extended hours we’ll see even less.
– Clubs have been forced to add sound insulation and made to turn down their volume even under the old noise rules. The new noise rules are much stricter and carry far heavier penalties if a venue doesn’t comply. How many clubs have been fined isn’t the question. The question is how many complaints have there been since the new noise rules went into effect and how many have been solved. The reality is that the issue with amplified noise coming from venues has been solved.
– You are incorrect. If a new license is issued, it could be controlled by the City, and the City could bring in revenue from it and put conditions on it. These conditions can be as I stated prior. This will all be dealt with in the actual proposal which doesn’t exist yet. Hard to argue about it when it doesn’t yet exist, no matter how much you would like to.
– Yes, the way the law currently is, with a mandatory closing time, binge drinking is encouraged. Getting rid of the mandatory closing times will change this.
– Currently, when the 2am push out happens, there is a massive amount of people who have been drinking trying to use taxis as an alternative to driving. When they can’t get a taxi due to the demand, they opt to drive themselves. Reducing this pressure on taxis will help stop drunk driving. Right now, the push out takes up a ton of police resources, keeping police from being able to monitor drunk drivers. Without the pressure on police resources, police have more time to arrest drunk drivers, reducing drunk driving. The Nightlife Initiative has also resulted in the liquor sticker – allowing people to pay for their next morning’s parking the night before, taking away one more reason to drive drunk to avoid an early morning ticket.
– More revenue will come from the licensing scheme. This money can be targeted to more policing. However, the result of getting rid of the 2am push out will decrease the need for police, not increase it. So there is no need for more revenue or staffing, and we win twice. More money for the police, and less work for the police to do.
– Your final question makes no sense to me.
people with cars also have money and they are not coming to seattle at night where you park somewhere and then get towed or ticketed. all those cabbie cars buzzing around at night that the city bought for the cab drivers are empty and they are driving recklessly. there is almost no reason to go to seattle. make it a rule you can park anywhere until 4:30 a.m. i do not know where i can and cannot park so i do not bother coming to seattle.
this city catered to people who moved here from nyc who want to get drunk, buy the onion-infested street food then take a hybrid cab home. there are not enough of those people here but the city stupidly listened to them for ideas that do not work. bike lanes are everywhere and i see maybe 10 people a night using them. people who cannot afford cars can’t afford anything. all those bike lanes were not needed since they could have been parking spaces at night.
the common good is not practiced in seattle.
when did assaults and terroristic threats become something that the city issues a $100 fine for? when word of this gets out everyone will want to “throw down” in seattle and it will drive out any remaining cool people left.
why are special polices made for drunks who commit assaults and make terroristic threats who are not homeless? who is on the city payroll making these asinine policies?
the 6 a.m. closing would have to be for saturday and sunday mornings. 4 a.m. for the other days. bars should not be forced to throw people out at 2a.m. even if they are forced to stop serving alcohol at 2 a.m.
they made those people drunk and they should sit there with them until 3 a.m. or 4 a.m.
They just can’t serve alcohol after 2:00 AM. They can serve food and all other beverages.
LOL, gee if the bar closing hours change in Seattle, there will be an onslaught of drunks from North King County….
Who’s this guy from, King County? The same people who brought us the refusal to post the ‘Made In America’ ads? And then lied about it?’
“I know that this was marketed to people predisposed to agree with this idea” Really…you know that? Awesome.
Excuse me, but your North Precinct Advisory Council should confine itself to its own jurisdiction. I live on Capitol Hill, and I KNOW what happens at closing time, and this is an excellent way to help the City control this problem.
So stop claiming to represent facts you don’t have. OK?
Britain has had the 12pm closing time for 30 years or so…I’m glad it seems sensible to you, how nice for you.
I would suggest two things:
-your personal opinion is not a ‘fact’
-stop using your position on City advisory councils as if you are Mayor
You are not an elected official, and you have the hutzpuh to express your separate opinion as if it were representative of the multiple advisory committees you represent?
Tomorrow I will writing a letter to the WSLCB complaining that your comments are totally out of line, and that you should be removed.
What a bunch of total nonsense….
I don’t know what your Mr Rogerson has against night clubs (that are not in his neighborhood) and has the temerity to suggest that a solution is to cut back rather than increase club hours here…
I LIVE HERE and what we think should have a whole lot more weight more than some unelected fool who thinks his own opinion is worth more than the opinions of the people in the neighborhoods they impact.
Rogerson, keep your opinions to North Seattle, and if there is any substantiation that this will cause problems in Fremont or the UDistrict, please feel free to suggest they be exempt.
There’s not enough demand there, that’s why. There is here. Either move here or STFU.