At a public safety forum this morning in Pike Place Market, City Attorney Pete Holmes embraced the idea of studying—just studying—granting 24-hour liquor licenses to bars and clubs in Seattle.
The Seattle Nightlife and Music Association (SNMA) has, according to local promoter and SNMA member David Meinert, approached the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) in the past about extending and staggering bar closing times. "Their attitude seems to be they don’t care what that time [bars and clubs close]," said Meinert, "so long as the city supports it."
Bar closing times are a rule set by the LCB, not by the legislature.
Later closing time for some bars would paradoxically mean more nightlife—something Holmes and McGinn said they were in favor of during their campaign—while lessening nightlife's negative impact. "The 2 AM closing time can be a noise issue," says Meinert. "There’s one bulk pushout," and the streets fill as the bars all empty at once. "And a 2 AM closing time encourages binging. And it can hard to get a cab at 2 AM, when demand spikes, and that can encourage drunk driving."
The SNMA, the mayor, and the city attorney would work together to craft a package of proposals over the next six months. The package would be presented to the WSLCB and would include a new noise ordinance, new regulations that would allow the police to ticket public disturbances instead of having to make arrests (which the police are reluctant to do), and a proposal for how new closing times would be structured.
"The question becomes how do you stagger closing times?" says Meinert. "San Diego has rolling closing times, by neighborhood, depending on the weekend. London and Miami and some others have just gone to 24 hours, and closing times change and are self-reuglated by clubs based on demand."
The idea is in its infancy and it has yet to be studied—and it has yet to be town-halled and subjected to the usual Seattle process—but it will, without a doubt, cause some people to crap their pants. Bars and clubs open around the clock?
"But it’s not radical idea," says Meinert. "Lots of cities are already doing it."