Sally Clark's nightlife legislation, which would have preserved the mayor's proposed new license for bars and clubs, appears to have run off the rails. Last week, council members Peter Steinbrueck and Tom Rasmussen drafted a replacement ordinance that would ditch the license while preserving other parts of Clark's proposal, including more specific noise standards and a new advisory board to oversee nightlife.
Council members say Clark, who joined the council in 2006, was doing the bidding of Mayor Greg Nickels, who insisted that a license was the only way the city could enforce the new regulations. "As a new council member, you aren't as sensitive to the subtleties of the game," council president Nick Licata says. "I think she wasn't aware of how much communicating you have to do with your colleagues." Steinbrueck, who led the push to replace Clark's proposal with new legislation, says the city should "address the problems [with nightlife] using the agencies that are responsible"—the police department for public-safety issues, the Department of Planning and Development for noise complaints, and so forth. Moreover, a new state law requiring the state liquor control board to consider city complaints when deciding whether to renew a bar's liquor license gives the city a new tool for dealing with problem clubs.
Clark, who continues to support the license, says, "It's not like the nightlife industry is going to like any form of new regulation." Clark seems unconvinced that the license is dead, but adds: "If the license doesn't have legs, the license dies."
From all appearances, the license does not have legs. According to Steinbrueck, seven of nine council members are opposed to Clark's proposal. (Jan Drago, who cosponsored Clark's legislation, is the other supporter). Clark's neighborhoods committee will discuss the legislation Thursday, June 21; a final decision won't come until later this summer.