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 have 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 East Precinct Advisory Council, the Central Seattle 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: http://www.liq.wa.gov/rules/extended-hours-rule-making
Please email call, fax or write your objection before the December 1st deadline!
WSLCB Headquarters Rules Coordinator
PO Box 43080 Olympia, WA 98504-3080
360.664.1631 Tel 360.664.9689 Fax
· Sharon Foster, Chair, of Olympia, firstname.lastname@example.org, 360.664.1711
· Ruthann Kurose, of Mercer Island, email@example.com, 360.664.1715
· Chris Marr, of Spokane, firstname.lastname@example.org, 360.664.1713
Thank you for your commitment to public safety!