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Council member Clark floats idea for year-round Pike/Pine block party

At Thursday night’s Capitol Hill Community Council meeting, the agenda said City Council member Sally Clark was scheduled to address “Pike/Pine Walkability Improvements,” and would focus on “future pedestrian improvements” for the area. Turns out, one way to improve walking in Pike/Pine is to put a beer can in your hand. Here’s the lowdown from another wild and woolly session of the Community Council.

ranier crush
Originally uploaded by subsetsum

“If it turns into drunk-fest in the streets, this is no good,” said Clark of an idea she floated Thursday night to block off the streets of Pike/Pine on weekend nights.

Clark said the idea is inspired by the Austin, Texas bar scene. On 6th Street in Austin, the city blocks off popular downtown streets for bar foot traffic starting at 11 PM and going through last call. 6th Street is notorious for its street parties, but it also plays a successful part in the city’s economy, Clark said.

“Do we have the conditions, or desire to, shut down the street on Broadway or Pike and Pine? I have no idea. I’m not sure if this idea will go any place, or if it’s interesting at all,” said Clark. “Would it bring more vibrancy or energy to the neighborhood, or would it be more trouble than it’s worth?”

Clark is exploring the idea of setting up police barricades down the Pike/Pine corridor, blocking cars from entering and allowing people to move freely down the streets.

It’s extremely early in the discussion and, at this point, the conversation is mostly about discussing possibilities, not making policies. Clark said she is gleaning interest from nightclub and bar owners across the city — and looking for help from the businesses to pay for it. She said she is talking to Dave Meinert and will have coffee with the owner of Neumos next week to determine if he would be willing to cooperate and participate in street cleanup before the idea moves forward. Meinert, of course, is busy next week planning the final elements of his own giant street party, the Capitol Hill Block Party which kicks off next weekend. We’ve covered some of the community issues surrounding that annual event here.

Clark said, especially with the current budget conditions at City Hall, it’s difficult to promise any more security or cleanup crews, and buses might have to be rerouted.

Some in attendance at the Community Council session expressed concern over the amount of trash that already exists in Pike/Pine and questioned the commitment of the local bar owners to keeping the streets clean. Another concern was the potential for unruly partying in their neighborhoods creating an unwelcoming atmosphere for those who live in the area. They wanted to know about fire and police access and taxi availability.

“We don’t want to allow people to be jackasses,” said Clark. “Some people are interested in the music, and others are just there to get hammered. We don’t want to have the character of the neighborhood change at different times of the day.”

Clark said one possible location would be “the retail district” down Pike, from 12th Ave. all the way down to Boren, either the whole thing or sections of it. An alternative idea is shutting down 10th or 11th Ave. between the two, while keeping Pike/Pine open to traffic. What would go in the streets? Maybe a street vendor food court, or live music.

The discussion comes as the mayor begins pushing his 8-point Seattle Nightlife Initiative plan which could lead to staggered closing times at bars across the city, increases in late-night public transit options and an improved police presence at nightlife hot spots. While Clark and Mike McGinn’s plans aren’t directly related, one thing is clear: The city’s nightlife industry has a growing influence as the economy saps strength from the more traditional power brokers in the Emerald City.

The CHCC will discuss the Seattle Nightlife Initiative at their next meeting, August 15 at 7 PM. Representatives from departments across City Hall plus local business owners will present their ideas related to the proposals. Following Clark’s brainstorm, it will be interesting to find out if a year-round Pike/Pine block party is one of them.

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18 thoughts on “Council member Clark floats idea for year-round Pike/Pine block party

  1. Interesting discussion on social engineering. If people are going to be jerks, or are setting out to get hammered, they’ll do so whether or not the streets are closed to cars. But the question about whether doing so is an implicit sanction of jerk-based behavior is a worthy one. How do you avoid encouraging people to generate garbage and noise and drunkenness on any weekend night?

  2. This quote tells it all: “Clark said, especially with the current budget conditions at City Hall, it’s difficult to promise any more security or cleanup crews, and buses might have to be rerouted.” How can you seriously float this idea when they don’t have the budget for security and clean-up?!! This is insanely stupid logic!!!

  3. I think this is a great idea… but it seems like it’d work best to just close Pike (and maybe some side streets like 10th/ 11th) and leave Pine open. If you don’t close Pine you don’t have to worry about re-routing buses.

    Also, why so late? Why not start at 8? A lot more people would benefit that way and there would be less of a perception that it’s just for late night partiers.

  4. shut down pike between 10th and 12th. everything along this stretch that is open at that time is catering to this crowd anyways, and no buses run on pike at that part of the hill either. you get the added benefit of fewer cars interacting with drunk pedestrians along that stretch.

  5. This is good for pedestrians and walking, good for CH business, and good for the environment. Just leave Pine St. open to buses as the 10 and 49 are on wires, and rerouting them would require running diesels instead of electric buses. The First Hill Streetcar will run until 1am and need to cross Pine and Pike on Broadway too.

  6. I have seen similar things done in several others cities and always thought it would be great for our neighborhood. I really like the idea of shutting down Pike from Broadway to 12th. And instead of simple police barricades we could have something more inviting and artistic. Also I definitely would rather see it start earlier in the evening; 7 or 8 sounds good to me.

  7. either the businesses in that neighborhood agree to clean up, and it continues… or they refuse to pay for it and the concept dies…

    how hard is that?

  8. This sounds like a really cool idea for a 100% commercial area, but there are hundreds of people living in apartments and condos above the bars/restaurants etc. along Pike, Pine, 10th, 11th, and 12th. (including me)

    I don’t mind being forced to stay awake til 3AM for gay pride and block party, because it’s only a couple weekends and they’re a lot of fun for thousands of people.
    But actually encouraging people to revel in the streets (“a street vendor food court, or live music”?!) means anyone who doesn’t or can’t stay up late because of their work or personal schedule is fucked.

    If anyone’s ever had an upstairs neighbor who liked to do jumping jacks at 6 in the morning on weekends, you’ll know where I’m coming from.

    Finally, this is the sound of street sweeper at 3 AM cleaning up after pride or block party:

  9. the apartments in these areas wouldn’t hear any more noise than they normally do. this neighborhood already has people carousing until after last call. are you one of those people that moved next to a bar and then got upset that the bar was open late?

  10. No–I’m not complaining about current noise levels, and I even supported the 3rd day of block party, since being half-dead Monday isn’t so bad just once a year for a special occasion.
    But there’s no way you can claim that people lingering outside a bar as they figure out transportation home or smoke a cigarette is anywhere near as loud as people gathering in a designated party area like the “notorious … street parties” described in Austin.

  11. I like the pro and con here. It seems this is just the beginning for this idea.

    Maybe Ms. Clark and the council can get the fucking garbage hauled better to start. Some of those side streets to Pike are a horrible mess with overflowing dumpsters and tons of rats in mid day.

    Oh, what a happy place for people walking around on the Hill.???? Of course after seeing the rats scurry, you might need a drink!!!

    Reality check in process. HAUL THE DAMN GARBAGE. Why must the rest of us put up with this?

  12. ==== How can you seriously float this idea when they don’t have the budget for security and clean-up?!! This is insanely stupid logic!!!

    Possible to think outside the “Government Services” matrix ever?

    In New Orleans, folks pick up after themselves (although it’s true we got some of the best garbagemen on the planet coming by to collect it all). Club owners generally police and pick up after their own as part of being neighborly. It’s just good business where crowds mean more steady business. Both residents and merchants either enjoy and benefit from (or up and leave) an area with street-fair cachet, day or night.

    Too, in a town where you can get disapproving looks from perfect strangers for crossing intersections without waiting for the light, I suspect Seattleites are equal to carrying a go-cup in a couple-blocks wide beer garden without going berzerk.

    ==== … instead of simple police barricades we could have something more inviting and artistic. Also I definitely would rather see it start earlier in the evening; 7 or 8 sounds good …

    Just so. Aesthetically pleasing barricades and earlier hours seem to be the most popular ideas from the buckwild supporters of this notion. Pulling up barricades during last set, there’s no critical mass of spill when clubs close and the evenings fade of their own accord.

  13. Sure just skip that, the $$$$. When the city is cutting back on EVERYTHING, sorry, that is a cop out.

    But, indeed good ideas abound when you ask the community, what think?

    Cheers, off to a Sister party, giving grants, 20,000.00 worth. Wow!!! Not just flash and dash and Value Village!!!

  14. This seems like a decent idea to explore more, however, I doubt it’d be cost-effective (or even used much) once the weather turns nasty. I’d proposed a May-September or June-September weekend schedule. I doubt once it gets cold and rainy and nasty it’d be worth it.

  15. To everyone out there living on the Pike/Pine Corridor… what were you smoking when you moved to the area thinking you would get ANY peace and quiet whatsoever? I recently shopped around for a new place, and as cute as some of the places on Pike are, there was just no way I wanted to listen to partiers and vomiters every night.

    But ya, make the businesses pay for security and cleanup. They benefit, they should be responsible for their patrons.

    ps – What a great idea to shut down streets in favor of pedestrian traffic! After Pike/Pine and Broadway, how about the street through the Pike Place Market and the Ave too! :-D Bring in arts vendors and farmers, fruit stands, etc to fill the areas.

  16. yeah we knew it’d be loud.. but the noise level has hardly changed in 10 years–it’d be a shame if they forced us locals out for whatever cash a couple beer gardens could pull in

    but turning cal anderson into a night party would be awesome, and it’s more isolated from residential. it’s even got a built in stage for concerts.

  17. er, I guess not a literal stage, but the grassy thing behind the play fields where they do that creepy acrobatics apparatus thing… there are power hookups and the grassy hill slopes towards the center