Seattle won't be keeping bars and nightclubs open past 2 a.m.— at least not anytime soon. The state Liquor Control Board on Wednesday rejected Seattle'srequest to allow local jurisdictions to extend liquor-servicehours. On a 2-1 vote, a majority of the board cited the potentialpublic-safety impacts from longer alcohol hours and the oppositionof law enforcement, including the Washington State Patrol and theWashington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. "Our paramount responsibility is public safety, and I believecontrol plays a major part of public safety," said board ChairwomanSharon Foster. |
She said she was also concerned that Seattle'spetition for extended hours was coming at the same time the stateis about to gauge the effects of a nearly fivefold increase inliquor-sales outlets with the implementation of Initiative 1183. Board member Chris Marr cast the only vote in favor of Seattle'spetition and noted that the city's request was to begin therule-making process, which would have addressed later bar hours,public safety and neighborhood impacts. Those rules then would havebeen subject to Liquor Control Board approval and review. "This represents a huge opportunity lost," Marr said. "We are notthe Liquor Prevention Board, we are the Liquor Control Board.
Ourjob is to determine if we can establish rules which adequatelymitigate the clearly identified risks of expanded hours." Mayor Mike McGinn said he was disappointed the city would not havean opportunity to apply for an extension of liquor-service hours:"Our request would not have extended hours anywhere in the state byone minute. Instead, it would have given us the opportunity to makea detailed proposal for extended hours in Seattle alone to theLiquor Control Board and address concerns that have been raised." In rejecting the Seattle petition, Foster and board member RuthannKurose said they were not persuaded that the impacts of extendedhours would only be within one city's borders, but would extend toanyone traveling to take advantage of later bar hours. Kurose said the Liquor Control Board doesn't have additionalresources for enforcement. There is about one enforcement officerfor every 400 licensed liquor establishments. Kurose cited the experience of Vancouver, B.C., which extendedliquor hours in 2004.
Police calls, fights and assaults allincreased, she said. This year, Vancouver police are requesting an additional $900,000for liquor and firearm enforcement patrols. Seattle petitioned the board in July to allow local jurisdictionsto create a regulatory framework for licensing clubs and bars thatwanted to stay open, potentially all night. McGinn, with the support of Police Chief John Diaz, City AttorneyPete Holmes and the City Council, said the current 2 a.m.
bar"push-out" created mayhem on the streets and taxed the ability ofpolice to control the crowds. The mayor also said later club hours could increase city taxrevenues by as much as $5 million per year. The proposal was part of McGinn's Nightlife Initiative. Theproposal seeks to create a more vibrant club scene while addressingnoise, neighborhood impacts and safe ways home for bar patrons,such as more taxi stands around entertainment districts.
Club owners who supported McGinn's election said the new rulescould allow clubs with good public-safety records to stay openlater. They said it was also in the spirit of I-1183, whichexpanded access to liquor sales. The Liquor Control Board held hearings on Seattle's proposal aroundthe state in March and April, including Seattle, Spokane, Kennewickand Vancouver. The board also received more than 300 writtencomments, about equally divided between supporters and opponents.
Police chiefs, including those in Spokane and Vancouver, and manyalcohol-treatment organizations were among the opponents. TheSeattle petition also was challenged in letters from residents andbusiness owners in neighborhoods already impacted by nightlife,including Pioneer Square and Belltown, as well as the city's policeprecinct advisory councils. Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or . On Twitter @lthompsontimes.
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