Prepare to kiss your dreams of later bar hours good-bye, Seattle.


On Monday, April 16, a crowd of 75 uncommonly sober people, including city officials and law enforcement, packed the Spokane City Council chambers with a single mission: block a Seattle petition, currently under consideration by the state, that would allow Washington cities the option of extending their bar service hours past 2 a.m. and conceivably all night long.

"Everyone who testified was unanimously in opposition, from the mayor and city council to the Spokane Police Department," recounts Brian Smith, a spokesman for the Washington State Liquor Control Board, which is tasked with approving or denying the petition.

Getting state and local law enforcement agencies to support the proposal—which was first introduced by Seattle mayor Mike McGinn with the support of the Seattle Police Department, City Attorney Pete Holmes, and a united Seattle City Council last July—is key in getting it approved by the notoriously cautious liquor board.

But widespread support hasn't materialized. Instead, public meetings held around the state have pitted law enforcement officials against small pockets of nightlife lovers and, occasionally, their peers. During an April 3 hearing in Southern Washington, the police chiefs of Battle Ground and Vancouver lobbied the state to kill the measure, arguing that they didn't have the resources to monitor late-night (or early-bird) drinkers, while their counterparts at the Clark County Sheriff's Department stood in favor of the proposal because of the flexibility and control it gave law enforcement.

Both the Battle Ground and Vancouver chiefs testified that their resource-strapped departments aren't equipped to handle later crowds of drinkers and they preferred the standard 2 a.m. bar push-out. They join the city of Federal Way in opposing the measure, where last week city officials and law enforcement declared it "horrendously bad public policy," putting Seattle officials on the defensive. "We're talking about granting cities local control—if Spokane doesn't want to [extend their bar hours], they don't have to," says Aaron Pickus, a spokesman for McGinn.

Support The Stranger

If the liquor board approves the rule change, bars wouldn't automatically be granted the right to serve until sunup. Cities would still have to petition the state for extended hours and prove that they could handle it from a public safety perspective.

Still, at this point, the outlook doesn't look good. The liquor board is tentatively scheduled to reach a decision on May 3. recommended