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City of Seattle

Seattle Nightlife Initiative

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For the latest info on this topic, visit the Nightlife Initiative page on the
Office of Economic Development Web site


The Seattle Nightlife Initiative is a proposal with eight components for creating a safe and vibrant nighttime economy.

The goals of the initiative are increasing public safety, growing the local economy and improving urban vibrancy.

  1. Code compliance enforcement
    Develop an assistance and enforcement strategy with nightlife businesses.
  2. Flexible liquor service hours
    Develop a proposal for flexible liquor service hours.
  3. Noise ordinance enforcement
    Adopt streamlined noise ordinance rules targeting chronic offenders.
  4. Security training requirements
    Require regular SPD security training classes as part of the state’s Nightclub
    Liquor License approval and renewal.
  5. Precinct community outreach
    Regularly scheduled precinct community outreach with nightlife businesses
    and residents.
  6. Professional development
    Develop and encourage the adoption of best practices for nightlife
  7. Late-night transportation alternatives
    Create accessible and safe late-night transportation options.
  8. Targeting public nuisances
    Create a city ordinance to allow Seattle Police greater ability to manage
    patrons of nightlife establishments contributing to public nuisances,
    disturbances and disorderly conduct.

Community feedback report and Nightlife Initiative  status update (December 28, 2010)

Online community feedback survey results (July 13, 2010-September 30, 2010)

Original Seattle Nightlife Initiative full proposal (July 13, 2010)

Responsible Hospitality Institute ( study on flexible liquor service hours

Posted by: Aaron Pickus, Spokesperson


Comment from Christina Machnik
Time July 14, 2010 at 7:38 am

There is very little in this proposal beyond keeping bars open after 2am to “overserve” patrons. Additional police enforcement, additional bus transportation? Where is the money for that coming from? Professional development, precinct community outreach? Security training? Can’t these things happen now? What do closing times have to do with it? Very little of this proposal (other than changing the closing times) is based Ina rational assessment of the needs of the rest of the community and the availability of resources ($$$) to sustain it.

Comment from Katie Bucy
Time July 14, 2010 at 8:08 am

I am strongly opposed to this initiative. I realize that there is a scheduling problem within the police department, but 24/7 bar operation will cause more problems for neighborhoods. Please reconsider this proposal.

Comment from Barbara Potter
Time July 14, 2010 at 8:32 am

I think what the problem is when ‘last call’ is approaching the young kids think it is time to belt down as many drinks as they can prior to closing, What is needed is an ordinance that prohibts alcohol being sold within one hour of closing. That way if they stay in the club to listen to the music they have an hour to sober up.
I live in Belltown and can tell you that at bar closing time there is so much noise on the streets that one would think it was noon time! They are rowdy, noisy and drunk and roving our streets in huge gangs. I thnk staggering the closing hours would help. One problem I haver noticed is that the different factions seem to have their owns clubs, i.e., turfs. Perhaps if the various gangs are not all let out at the same time there would be less confrontations. I certainly am against the bars being open longer! That just gives them more time to get drunk!

Comment from Eustacio Humphrey
Time July 14, 2010 at 9:13 am

Great idea Mr. Mayor. You have my full support on this initiative. It is time to help Seattle become a modern American city with International appeal.

Comment from Charles Harte
Time July 14, 2010 at 10:05 am

I think establishments shoud be open 24/7 This way everyone will not be out on the streeets at the same time. Also Owners will close when they do not have business and people will leave at different times… It would be a smart thing to do

Comment from Charles Pluckhahn
Time July 14, 2010 at 11:08 am

Yes to everything but #2. Allowing bars to stay open all night is lunacy. Mayor McGinn, I supported your candidacy, but I am through with you. This city needs an adult mayor, not you. Time for you to go back to college.

Comment from Tammie Hilgers
Time July 14, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Spending $ we don’t have to research this idea is insane!!! Spending $ to”train” bar security is insane! Spending $ to “offer” extended bus services for the people that desire to drink alchohol until 2am – 3am – 4am etc. is absolutely shameful!! !!!!!!!!!!! I think and I know everyone can think of millions of ways to spend our very “limited” dollars for a GOOD cause!!!
Even if our economy was not suffering — why extend bar hours – or stagger them. Those that want to get intoxicated – will now have “more” establishments to crawl to – and continue crawling later in the morning. While – we – as taxpayers – are funding the additional “bar security training” and funding “additional bus service” for the alcholics!! Shame on us!! Safer city – I think not!!
We are “nurturing” problem drinkers – should we nurture drug addicts?? Is this the type of city we want to have our zip code in?? Yeah – go to Seattle where you can drink 24/7!!! This would be a College break destination – frightening!! Safety?? Not!! Party town – Yes!
The only way I could “possibly” consider this idea – is if there was an area – away from residential – and only one designated area to “test” the feasibility and the management of this ridiculous idea. I do not see where the merit is – a few more $ in the business pocket – but at the “cost” of breeding more alchoholics and threatening safety and security.
Reminds me of the housing we provided to keep the alcholics off the streets – mmnn… – a nice place to live and continue to drink – on our dollar!! Or – the toilets we provided in Pioneer Square – so the homeless could have restrooms.. Mnnn…. – ended up being a place to get their fix – or…. to “_______.” Once again – our tax $$ at work…

Comment from Jeanne Emrich
Time July 14, 2010 at 1:36 pm

I think it’s a bad idea to allow liquor sales 24 hours a day. Please consider having liquor sales stopped (weeknights) at midnight and 1 a.m. on weekends. That should be plenty of time for people to drink, etc. without having loud drunks on the street all night long. It must be horrible for people living near taverns trying to get unintterrupted sleep at night.

Comment from Russell Scheidelman
Time July 14, 2010 at 1:59 pm

It’s not the rushed sales of alcohol at 2:00 AM which causes the problems we’re seeing today. It’s the rushed consumption, which exacerbates drunkenness. Wouldn’t it be more sensible to do what’s done in most other large cities around the world and allow bar patrons to finish off their drinks in a leisurely manner before they leave the establishments? The only new rule this would require would be that in the last 10 minutes or so before sales stop, drinks would be limited to one per customer. This plan seems a lot simpler than the proposal for ‘staggered hours’, and it might even turn out to be technically legal under the present state law. If the bars show reluctance to go along, I say just let them know it’s now legal to do this, and let ‘market forces’ sort out who wins by being more customer-friendly.

Comment from Claudia Fernandez
Time July 14, 2010 at 3:57 pm

I think the Flexible liquor service hours would be great for night life in Seattle, I believe it will help the police deal with problem people better. I hope you guys pass this proposal.

Thank You.

Claudia Fernandez

Comment from Dave Lyon
Time July 14, 2010 at 6:26 pm

My Name is Dave Lyon and I am the owner of Twist and Ventana Restaurants in Belltown. I have worked in restaurants, bars and clubs around the Seattle area for over 20 years and have been in Belltown for the last 10 of those years. I am very encouraged by the new administration’s ability to start thinking outside the old regime and looking into possibilities such as extending the hours to serve liquor in the city. I believe that a number of the problems that result from the closing of all the bars, clubs and restaurants at 2am are directly related to having everyone close at the same time.

As was mentioned in the report from RHI, one of the biggest factors is the last call rush where everyone tries to get one more drink or shot before they pour out onto the streets. Many of these people are not really ready to head home and have nowhere to continue having a good time so they stay around outside mingling and this leads to many of the problems that everyone is well aware of already. The last drinks kick in and then it leads to people doing and acting in a dumb manner. This is often a problem from over serving as well but mostly a result of the last call rush to get one more drink that affects the people once they leave an establishment. I am positive that giving them better options above hanging around outside in the streets at 2am will keep the crowds under better control and will leave smaller numbers out on the streets at one time. The goal would be to eliminate the last call drink rush as well as letting people tire themselves out over time so that there is a steady stream of customers leaving busy areas instead of a mad rush of everyone at once.

I do believe that there are a couple of other areas that need to be looked at as well. The first and probably the most important is the way that the promoters operate in this town. There is virtually no oversight or regulations for promoter activity and I believe that is one of the biggest problems faced by the industry in Seattle. Many clubs use promoters as a desperate measure to get some quick cash with no long term outlook on what the crowd will do to their establishments. These promoters are mostly unlicensed people who collect thousands of dollars in cash for an event night that goes unreported. I am not saying that they keep the cash for themselves because they do have expenses like DJ’s advertising, security etc, but they are almost all paying in cash with revenue that is not reported and not taxed. There needs to be oversight of these promoters because they have no incentive to keep a crowd in control. Their only goal is to get as many bodies as possible into a club so they make more money at the door. If there are problems and the club gets in trouble they don’t care because they know they can move their night to another venue and not get in trouble at all. They don’t care whether the previous place goes out of business or gets fined and there are no repercussions towards them to keep them in line or to prevent them form doing it all over again at another venue. We need regulations and licenses for these promoters to make sure they keep things on the up and up, providing a safe crowd and are paying their taxes. I believe this is a huge drain on the tax base of the city because they are missing out on the door tax and sales taxes from these nights plus using lots of police resources to deal with a few problem promoters and their crowds. We license people to serve the alcohol but we don’t license the people who promote the liquor-driven events and that makes no sense at all!

Several years ago, clubs were allowed to hire of-duty but uniformed police officers and this also should be allowed again. There was not much oversight before but if it was setup the right way from the beginning many of the busy venues would be happy to pay these officers to help keep their patrons safe. The issues brought up were that officers were doing favors for clubs and that it led to corruption but I don’t think that was the case. Why would an officer do something to jeopardize their regular job for one that pays them $150 every few weeks? It just did not make sense.

Also, the parking lots need to be better monitored. Many of the late night problems happen in parking lots near busy venues and often have nothing to do with the venue at all but are a result of people that did not even get into the venue in the first place. What if parking lots were required to have a gate and fence on their lots to keep extra cars out? Or required to staff the lots until later in the evening? Many of the lots have staff that goes home at 11 or 12 but the clubs don’t close until 2 and there is nobody there to keep people from hanging out in the lots causing trouble.

Thanks – Dave Lyon

Comment from Adam Jenkins
Time July 16, 2010 at 4:11 pm

The proposed sound level of 80 dBC inside a residence is unacceptably high, it’s essentially a broad approval for all club owners to turn UP the volume, complaints and severe sleep disturbance occur FAR below 80 dBC.

It’s disappointing to see that the Nightlife Advisory Board’s recommendations are being ignored by the Mayor, one of which being 80 dBC at 6 feet from the establishment, which is very reasonable and enforceable.

Adam C. Jenkins
Seattle, WA

Comment from Michael Le Clech
Time July 20, 2010 at 9:29 pm

I strongly support these 8 points. They are very valid, and would help restore the local economy. The public safety benefits are obvious. As long as people can have self control, I think we should allow them more freedom. Look at Japan’s government, they have a strong sense of trust in their citizens and guess what? Their nation has one of the lowest rates of crime in the world! This is one great step towards making Seattle a better place.

Comment from Matthew Steele
Time July 28, 2010 at 10:36 am

Flexible hours will ensure that people don´t binge around 2pm, causing unnecessary havoc.

Comment from SExtending drinking Goss
Time July 30, 2010 at 1:45 am

I don’t understand the logic behind the extended bar hours. To me, more hours equals more drunks equals more noise, more public safety issues and a decreased quality of life for anyone living close to bars or “clubs”. I live in Belltown and it is not just the first hour after closing that is a problem, the problem occurs over several hours. The noise, the drunk drivers and the garbage already lasts several hours into morning. So now you want to lengthen the hours so when the average working person is getting up, getting their children ready for school and going to work, they’ll be sharing the road and their neighborhood with drunks and their mess.

I’d like to know where you live, Mr. Mayor, it sure is not Belltown. Try living on 1st or 2nd Avenue in Belltown for a week and then tell us HONESTLY if you still think extending the hours is a good idea. I wonder who has you in their pocket or if you have a need to drink at all hours?

Extending drinking hours, encourages more irresponsible behavior by drunks, puts more money in the liquor seller’s pockets and demoralizes the working class by ignoring their right to a safe neighborhood.

S. Goss

Comment from John Mason
Time August 20, 2010 at 11:49 am

I applaud the Washington State Liquor Control Board for opposing the Mayor’s proposal until there is evidence that extending hours for serving liquor would be unlikely to have an adverse impact on public safety. My main concerns are overserving and increased DUIs.

As a Belltown resident, I’m also concerned about the increase in the number of early morning hours when our sleep is interrupted by hootin’ and hollerin’ drunks. The Mayor’s proposal would mean more bucks for nightclub owners, but more external costs borne by everyone else. Let’s not forget the importance of making downtown a good place to live.

Comment from Sue Jones
Time August 24, 2010 at 3:30 pm

I have lived in Belltown for 7 years. It is a great place. The problem seems to be a total lack of respect by “some” patrons of the bars and restaurants. Yelling, screaming, blowing horns, setting off car alarms, accelerating motorcycles, throwing signs, parking illegally in passenger load zones,(hours and overnight even) swearing and threatening others, and we are supposed to believe these people are adults? Don’t even consider extending the bar hours. Enforce the noise ordinance, stop the drunk drivers, and we will all benefit. A good night’s sleep in Belltown doesn’t even begin till after 2:30 or 3:00. Respect the residents who live here 24/7.

Comment from Thomas Vozella
Time September 1, 2010 at 8:27 pm

wow, there’s a whole lot of shot sighted comments on here. Do you all think every has the same schedule as you do? Some of us don’t and would still like to have some fun during our off hours. Ever think of that?

Comment from Robert Zappone Blog
Time September 24, 2010 at 3:27 pm

The blog is definitely amazing… You know how to balance writing and fact. However, I cant get over how little you actually bring to light here. I think that everyones said the same thing that youve said over and over again. Dont you think its time for something a bit new mate, especially for a college site…?

Comment from pete rogerson
Time September 28, 2010 at 9:34 pm

There is no there there. Its all fluff – no meat. The proposals are so vauge its almost impossible to tell if they’re good or bad ideas. Some sound nice but where do the funds and staffing come from for implimentation? Who wants bars open longer? If some close sooner, the drinkers will just move on to the ones that are still open. This ‘proposal’ is so light it floats like tissue paper. It just could be that this proposal is payback for the nitelife folks’ support of the Mayor during the election. Hmmm.

Comment from Todd Nelson
Time October 17, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Let me preface what I’m about to say by stating that I’ve lived in Belltown for 20 years. I’ve seen a lot of changes.

Although if I do go out to a bar I leave before 9PM because that’s when the music starts thumping and the idiots from the Eastside start arriving.

I think that keeping some bars open past 2AM will just cause a mass rush towards those bars from people in bars that are closing.

Drunk people will then compete with each other to get in line to get into the bars that are still serving. People will cut in line and fights will ensue.

No matter what the closing time people will pound down what they can when that time is approaching.

I think stricter enforcement of not serving people who are already intoxicated is essential. The clubs are going to have to have their feet held to the fire on this one. If not the odd fine for overserving will just be an easily absorbed cost of doing business.

Regarding noise I have to confess I have a problem with how I imagine this will be handled. I imagine bars will be targeted unfairly and other sources of noise will be allowed to run roughshod.

Bar noise can be a problem but I’ve ALWAYS thought the most noisy and disturbing source of noise are the recycling trucks.

I wear earplugs when I sleep and the only sound they don’t drown out is the recycling and garbage trucks.

So if a noise ordinance is going to be enforced then ALL sources of noise must be cited equally and without prejudice.

Comment from Beverly Nielsen
Time December 29, 2010 at 10:07 am

I am absolutly opposed to any change in the hours of liquor service. By 2 AM those who wish to be drunk are drunk. Further liquor service only endangers them and the rest of us.
Also, I do not approve of using public funds for additional transportation and police services. Perhaps a per drink tax at clubs and restarants should be used for this purpose.

Comment from James G
Time April 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Having traveled extensively throughout the world, I can say that the only place I have been with more restrictive drinking rules is Saudi Arabia. Not only is Seattle’s current situation flawed and unrealistic but on top of that it is embarrassing. When I have friends visit from Europe I have to remind them that they need to go out at nine or ten o’clock instead of their customary midnight or later in order to even spend an hour in clubs. The model that works everywhere else in the world is restaurants, lounges, and bars followed by clubs open till the early hours of the morning so that those who want to drink can and are not left in a drunken pergatory at exactly two o’clock. To those who have a problem with noise and nightlife I suggest that you move to the suburbs and allow their to be some sort of draw for young people in the state of Washington. It affects the attractiveness of our city and moreover just makes sense. People will find excitement whether we allow it or not, so it is better to monitor and allow it rather than live in a fantasy where we think that promptly at 2 o’clock all people will go right home to sleep.

Comment from Brandon
Time April 21, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Barbara Potter —-

That doesn’t change anything. There would STILL be a last-call. There is always a last-call when a bar tells its patrons that they will stop serving drinks.

There will always be people belting down drinks. That is just the nature of the nightlife industry.

Why are Seattleites SUCH ninnies about nightlife??

Comment from Karen B
Time April 22, 2011 at 6:48 am

Later bus service doesn’t mean 3 or 4am as someone commented. But how bout a safe way to get home at simply 1 or even 2? Most bus routes end somewhere between 11 and 12:30. There have been many times I’ve missed said buses (like last Friday) and walked alone in the night over a mile to get home. People, stop being so dramatic. He’s not talking buses all night, just simply running a little later to accommodate more people. If it keeps people from drinking and driving it’s marvelous.
(For reference I’m not some young college student. I’m 40.)

Time April 22, 2011 at 1:12 pm

[…] Seattle Nightlife Facebook Mayor Mike McGinn has announced a pre-payment option for those who park their cars before going out and updated the public on the Nightlife Initiative’s Code Compliance Team, taxi zones and a new Amplified Sound Rule for the city. Starting April 21, people will see new blue and yellow informational stickers on the pay stations in the Pike-Pine and Capitol Hill neighborhoods. The stickers explain that after 10 p.m. two hours of parking for the following morning from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. can be purchased to give drivers more time to get home safely and retrieve their vehicles the next day. The stickers will eventually be applied to all pay stations. These new initiatives will create a more comprehensive city stance on nightlife and increase citizen safety while bolstering Seattle businesses. The Amplified Sound Rule will benefit music venues and nightclubs, as well as local residents, clearly defining the previously ambiguous policies and regulations on noise. For more information on the new initiatives, check out the links above. […]

Comment from Kevin L
Time July 15, 2011 at 4:12 pm

This is a great idea and I completely support of it. Forcing drunks out onto the street causes problems while letting them sober up indoors will help stop the very same problems while creating a late night job market such as 24 hour restaurants and retail stores. Once again, GREAT IDEA!

Comment from Peter Abidial
Time March 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm

This is a great idea Mr. McGinn! I think it will be a good help for the police. So they can deal better with the trouble maker! Thanks for sharing!

Comment from Kris Slevens
Time April 20, 2012 at 3:15 am

The proposed sound level of 80 dBC inside a residence is very high, it’s essentially a broad approval for all club owners to turn UP the volume, wouldn’t something ~ 75 dB be a bit more on par with “sleeping hours” in our area?

Just a thought, thanks always Mr. McGinn for your service.

Local Resident

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