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City of Seattle

July 13, 4:33 PM click here to comment > 7

Mayor announces Seattle Nightlife Initiative

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Tonight Mayor Mike McGinn will announce his Seattle Nightlife Initiative, a proposal with eight components to increase public safety, grow our nighttime economy and improve urban vibrancy.

“We look forward to sharing these ideas with the community and getting their feedback and input about how we can work together to make better communities,” said McGinn.

A detailed version of the proposal can be found in .PDF format HERE.

“The eight components that make up the Seattle Nightlife Initiative are designed to take advantage of the economic and social rewards nighttime businesses bring to our city, while making public safety the highest priority,” said McGinn. “I thank City Attorney Holmes, Councilmember Licata, business leaders, city staff, the City Council and many others for supporting our effort to bring these proposals to the public for their consideration.”

The priorities of the Seattle Nightlife Initiative include:

1. Code compliance enforcement
2. Flexible liquor service hours
3. Noise ordinance enforcement
4. Security training requirements
5. Precinct community outreach
6. Professional development
7. Late-night transportation alternatives
8. Targeting public nuisances

“I am pleased to see this comprehensive approach to nightlife issues,” said Councilmember Nick Licata. “The nighttime disturbance ordinance I am sponsoring will address undesirable behavior related to nightlife in a way that enhances public safety, without placing additional burdens on businesses. This approach was recommended by the Nightlife Advisory Board, composed of residents and nightlife operators.”

The Seattle Nightlife Initiative arises as a new approach to an age-old issue in Seattle. It aims to ensure that neighborhoods are livable, support a vibrant nightlife industry and leverage the economic contribution that nightlife brings to Seattle. This initiative sets out to develop a proactive and strategic approach to managing areas of nighttime activity in order to reduce antisocial behavior, noise, public disturbances and other problems.

It emphasizes integrated action across local policies and activities, reducing costs and allowing for responsible growth in the nighttime economy. The components of the plan work together, and each is necessary for the success of this effort.

“A safe, vibrant nightlife is important to Seattle’s emergence from this stubborn recession and maintaining our creative, dynamic and sociable urban culture,” said Seattle City Attorney Peter Holmes. “I support collaborative efforts among Seattle communities, the nightlife industry and state and local regulators to revitalize Seattle nightlife.”

This plan envisions a full suite of actions that together provide a balanced approach: They require nightlife establishments, patrons, the city government and residents all to play a role in creating and supporting a safe and vibrant nightlife within Seattle.

“The city’s new initiative will help move Seattle to the forefront of progressive growth and management of our nightlife economy. I am happy to see we are looking past the hiccups of differences and pushing for a comprehensive approach that makes Seattle a better place to live, work and play,” said Pete Hanning, president of the Seattle Nightlife & Music Association.

“This is just the start of what we expect will be a vigorous discussion in which these ideas are fully examined,” said McGinn. “We look forward to hearing more ideas on how to achieve these goals.”

The city of Seattle will solicit public feedback and input on the Seattle Nightlife Initiative. The Mayor’s Office will coordinate outreach to all the precinct advisory councils and a number of community and neighborhood groups. The Mayor’s Office will also solicit input via an online survey, which will be disseminated widely. The outreach and public engagement will follow the Inclusive Outreach and Public Engagement Guidelines and be inclusive of people of diverse cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations and socioeconomic status.

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Posted by: Aaron Pickus, Spokesperson


Comment from matthew
Time July 14, 2010 at 8:28 am

Although i personally like the idea of keeping bars open later or even all night, when they tried this experiment in england (starting in 2004 or 2005, i think) as an attempt to curb binge drinking, the results are in this year and binge drinking and rowdiness actually INCREASED. It’s a shame, really.

Comment from Richard Thurston
Time July 14, 2010 at 10:30 am

I guess we have to start somewhere. For me a key has to be adoption of Council Member Licata’s Nightime Disturbance Ordinance. The noise component in the Mayor’s proposal is toothless and ineffective. The idea that police officers on a Saturday night will drop everything to investigate a noise complaint then go through the measuring procedure to test for a violation as measured against 80DB is ludicrous. It won’t happen.

Licata’s proposal is more realistic.

4. “Unreasonable noise” means loud and raucous, and frequent, repetitive, or continuous sounds that are audible to a person of normal hearing at a distance of seventy-five (75) feet or more from the source of the noise. Unreasonable noise may be created by:
a. The amplified or unamplified human voice;
b. Any horn or siren attached to a motor vehicle, except such sounds that are made to warn of danger or that are specifically permitted or required by law;
c. The starting, operation, repair, rebuilding or testing of any motor vehicle, motorcycle, off-highway vehicle, or internal combustion engine.

Before we allow club owners expanded hours we need to insure they and their patrons are up to the responsibility of behaving appropriately.

Comment from Kathy
Time July 14, 2010 at 10:58 am

I am highly opposed to this idea:
1) more noise later at night
2) police must hire more employees to work late hours to enforce liquor laws and underage drinking laws and noise problems
3) more road accidents if the bars are open longer–people will drink more drinks and then drive (if they have to drink at home after 2 pm so what but if they are not at home when they drink endlessly all night, it is another issue as they will be driving)
4) more sirens late at night!
5) this will hurt small and medium sized bars and any bars who could not afford to compete for late hours,it will result in “big box” bars
6) this will keep bar employees from being able to socialize with other people as they will be up all night
7) I lived in England in the 80’s where the pubs closed around 10:30 pm and that was fine! better for family life and communities to limit public drinking time
8) Seattle has a lot of people who live near ground level or near bars and they shouldn’t be bothered by noise, lights, etc.
9) So who is there that lives in Seattle who wants to pay for more buses to run at night for the bar drinkers and do people who love to drink all night in public really prefer buses to cars anyway?

Comment from Nathan Clark
Time July 14, 2010 at 1:01 pm

I’m glad you are addressing concerns from residents and the nightlife industry. Have you considered creating a city-wide banlist for repeat trouble-makers or those recently convicted of night-time violence and gang-related activities? I believe Vancouver, BC has a similar program. Bars can scan IDs and refuse entry to people on the list. Perhaps you could encourage bars to participate in this program by including it as a condition to having extended service hours.

Comment from Monika Proffitt
Time July 14, 2010 at 2:44 pm

As the co-owner of the Living Room, a small bar on lower Capitol Hill, I am very interested in finding out more about the pilot program for flexible liquor service hours that is scheduled to debut this fall. As a veteran in the hospitality industry, I can say that in the larger clubs that I have worked at in the past (Contour, the Fenix, etc.) there was a great reduction in crime when we maintained later hours, even without serving liquor. We saw it as a responsibility to the community and to our patrons to stay open later than 2am. I see the immediate logic in this approach to public safety and nightlife enjoyment, and now that I own a smaller venue (approx. 950 sq. ft.), I am interested to see how effective this would approach be for our neighbors and surrounding community. I believe that getting a diverse cross section of bars to participate in the pilot program will be invaluable to the process of evaluating it and implementing it on a broader scale. Please contact me at to provide me with more details, if there are any available. I am very glad to see such responsible ideas come from the mayor’s office.

Best regards,
Monika Proffitt

Comment from Sam
Time July 15, 2010 at 11:06 am

The problems stem not so much from the 2:00 AM last call, but from the Liquor Control Board’s insane and draconian insistence that all alcohol sold in a bar be off the table by 2:00 AM. The Liquor Control Board’s strong enforcement of this rule ironically encourages people to order shots and doubles at last call and suck them down as quickly as possible while impatient servers, who are rightfully afraid of massive fines, try to round up all the glasses. If it was possible to order a drink up till 2:00 AM, and then relax with your drink until you finished in your own time, there would not be a mad rush of drunken people pouring into the streets at 1:45 AM, This problem is CAUSED by the Washington State Liquor Control Board. They should be held accountable. Actually, they should be disbanded.

Comment from Louis M. Preema
Time July 21, 2010 at 1:52 am

These “problems” stem from one thing: intoxication, blood alcohol level. Let’s get real. If the WAC re: alcohol serving was enforced none of this would be an issue, absolutely NONE of it. Bars could be open or closed any time with no impact on their communities. Closing time would be a non-issue. Drunk driving would rarely exist. People would be able to leave an establishment without yelling, crying, relieving themselves in public or threatening to hit someone. Read the WAC for alcohol servers if you don’t believe me.

Everyone involved in this movement knows it. They also know that the Nightlife Industry is financially dependent on breaking the law, plain and simple. Without over-serving alcohol they cease to exist. Tips are the living wage for these places. The whole structure of drink prices and door charges depends on a fair number of patrons being served more than the law allows.

So club owners contribute to campaign funds and “new solutions” are pushed on unsuspecting voters. The police deal with the fallout. On top of the rest of their duties. Out of their paper thin budget.

Why not start with the facts here? Who gets rude, noisy or dangerous? Why? How? When? Where? How often?

I think the reason may be that Mayor AND the Liquor Control Board don’t want us to look at the facts. Because they represent a dirty little secret. A law that’s not enforced and an industry built on deception.