Updated with comments from Mark Matassa, spokesman for the mayor.
Last night at Washington Hall in the Central District, Mayor Mike McGinn released the results of a citywide nightlife survey (.pdf), which showed that over 80 percent of the 2,400 residents polled in fall favored later bar service hours. In addition, 28.4 percent of respondents ranked later service hours as their highest priority in McGinn's eight-point nightlife initiative, which included plans to beef up late-night transit, enforce a citywide noise ordinance, and ticket disorderly street drunks.
But despite overwhelming citywide support for later bar hours, McGinn acknowledged, "It could be a years-long process. It's a culture change."
As we've reported in the past, the Washington State Liquor Control Board—which ultimately controls bar service hours—is unlikely to bend the rules for Seattle in 2011.
The culture change McGinn refers to must take place in Olympia—not Seattle.
Governor Christine Gregoire effectively shut down the city's debate on later service hours by issuing a moratorium on government rule-making for the next year, which allows the WSLCB to punt the issue until 2012. And even back in September, before the moratorium was issued, the WSLCB was shaking its finger at the threat to public safety (out-of-town partiers might result in more drunk drivers).
Moreover, McGinn lacks political allies. He's unlikely to rebuild a bridge with the governor on this issue after calling her untrustworthy, and it's unclear that McGinn has a strong relationship with Seattle's legislative delegation in Olympia (he's trumpeted the tunnel cost overrun issue since taking office but has yet to rally lawmakers in Seattle or draft a bill to nix the pesky provision in state law), so the legislature is unlikely to run to his side to change bar hours, either.
So what is McGinn's next step—to bring about that culture change—to extend bar hours? Mark Matassa, spokesman for the mayor, couldn't comment on whether the mayor has approached legislators to support his push for later bar hours in Seattle (or sponsor a bill to make this localized fight a state issue). He also couldn't comment on whether the mayor's proposal has gotten support from the King County Sheriff's office or the Washington State Patrol—two groups the WSLCB name-checked as being high on their list of public safety endorsements. Matassa says that the mayor has no next step. "I think we're going to have to wait and see. Our expectation is that it’s going to be a long process. It could take years."
Meanwhile, the mayor is forging ahead with the other components of his nightlife initiative.
Specifics after the jump.
Last night the mayor announced that beginning in January, Seattle police will start ticketing
dick sacks public nuisances who are overly loud, threatening, or causing fights between midnight and 5:00 a.m., and in April, the city will start allowing people to prepay for two hours of morning parking at 10:00 p.m. to discourage drinkers from driving home. The mayor's office is also working to promote better late-night transportation options, such as creating taxi stands in popular nightlife districts.
While the survey results showed that later bar hours was the highest priority for almost 30 percent of respondents, more people—31.9 percent—said that activating the street environment was their highest priority. Meanwhile, 21.4 percent of people said that improving nightlife public safety was their highest priority—even though more than 60 percent of people polled also said that they felt safe on the streets during nightlife hours. Only 14.7 percent reported that they felt unsafe. (More results here—(.pdf).)