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Monday, April 2, 2007

Save Seattle Clubs: Email Margarita Prentice NOW

posted by on April 2 at 11:21 AM

A message from Grady West, a.k.a. Dina Martina:

Hey everyone,

PLEASE DO THIS TODAY! Re-bar, along with many other amazing places we love in Seattle (Neumo’s, the Crocodile, the Tractor, etc.), is in danger of closing at the end of 2007 because of a new bill requiring certain businesses to install expensive sprinkler systems by Dec. 1, 2007 or close. That wouldn’t be so hard to comply with, except for the fact that these sprinkler systems cost anywhere in the neighborhood of $70,000-$90,000. These businesses aren’t asking to be excused from installing the sprinkler systems, just that they be given sufficient time to get that huge sum of money together.

There’s currently a bill (HB 1811) in Olympia that would move the sprinkler installation deadline to Dec. 1, 2009, but if it doesn’t make it out of committee by the end of the day MONDAY, APRIL 2ND, it is dead and we’ll be stuck with the Dec. 2007 deadline, which would effectively close a lot of these important Seattle establishments.

If you want to help, below is a short paragraph I typed to the Ways and Means Committee Chairperson, Margarita Prentice, that you should copy and paste into a new email and send to her at And don’t forget to add your name at the bottom!


Here’s the text West would like you to send to Margarita Prentice:


I’m emailing you to ask you to please do everything in your power to help HB 1811—the sprinkler bill—to pass (which would move the installation deadline to 2009) because there are SO many establishments vital to the social scene and character of Seattle (character which has already largely disappeared due to gentrification) which would be forced to close. They’d be forced to close because the time they’ve been given to raise the necessary amount of money (anywhere from $70,000 to $90,000) to install a sprinkler system by the Dec. 1, 2007 deadline is inadequate. Many of these businesses would need at least another year to amass that kind of money.

PLEASE don’t let this happen. Thank you.



This was originally posted on Sunday afternoon, but I’m moving it up.

RSS icon Comments


Don't just email Prentice, also email the sponsors of the bill,,,,

and tell them they not only should move back the deadline but offer grants to clubs that have to install sprinlers.

Posted by DM | March 31, 2007 7:22 PM

I believe this House Bill began as response to the Station fire in Rhode Island which killed 100 people.

Avoiding something like that in Seattle sounds like a good idea.

Posted by Zander | March 31, 2007 7:40 PM

#1 - thanks.


Posted by BFDS | March 31, 2007 10:35 PM

zander @ 2 -
sure. A good way to avoid club fires is to shut down all the clubs. Makes sense to me.

Posted by SeattleExile | April 1, 2007 6:05 AM

"Shut down all the clubs" is so reactionary. Grady West, a.k.a. Dina Martina really wants us to protect the economic interests of the bar owners over the safety of patrons? All these owners certainly have good credit and can borrow the money for these safety upgrades (if they donít already have it). Nothing's going to close. Dan, I'm surprised speaking points bar/club owners have made their way into this post so easily.

Posted by Gabe Global | April 1, 2007 9:56 AM

#5 - if you believe that you don't know the business too well.

Coming up with $60-$90,000 for a business already making a slim margin is near impossible. Even if they could borrow, the payments may put them under. There are some venues this will not be an issue for, other will for sure face closure.

The issue isn't whether or not clubs should have sprinklers. Everyone is ok with that requirement. The issue is how soon venues will need to install them. A further issue is with the State creating yet another unfunded mandate. The State could offer a tax credit on B&O taxes, and while this would be nice, it won't really help the clubs hit worst. Geoff Simpson, a former fire fighter who I think originated this had agreed to try to get grant money to cover the cost. That is a real possibility. Rep's like Simpson don't want to see clubs close as a result of the bill.

Also keep in mind that at no time in modern history has there been a deadly club fire in Washington, at least as far as I know. Most cities in this state have very strong regulations concerning venues, fireproofing, pyro, exits and capacity. Seattle is especially great on this for the most part. Folks like Zander have a very anti-nightlife agenda. While we definitely need to make venues safe, we need to balance that with real business concerns. The State is working with the industry, they just need to hear from us on this one.

Posted by DM | April 1, 2007 10:16 AM

"Grady West, a.k.a. Dina Martina really wants us to protect the economic interests of the bar owners over the safety of patrons?" Duh, you can't really be so mentally challenged as to think that economic interests and patrons are not the same thing? Please tell me you DO HAVE the brains to know that we the patrons ARE the economic interest. Who else pays the cover the charge, who else buys the beer/drinks? I gave Sen. Prentice a call because I am her constituent and she will listen to me over someone that lives on Capital Hill. I told her the safty upgrades are a MUST, but to cut the clubs some time to get the money needed.

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | April 1, 2007 12:16 PM

Hey Dan, here's a question: If the BIAW takes out a bunch of ads in the Stranger will you get off of their backs about the homebuyer's rights bill?

Posted by wile_e_quixote | April 1, 2007 3:57 PM

Done and done.

Posted by Carollani | April 2, 2007 11:40 AM

Thanks for moving up Dan.

It's nice that Pederson and company is trying to move back the deadline for compliance. But, a 50% tax credit on a mandate like this is quite small. Any tax relief I am sure will be welcomed by the clubs, but on a $70,000 installation, the club still has to come up with all the money up front. Then they might get a $500 rebate per month for $35,000 of that which would take almost 6 years to recover.

If there is truly a desire to pass new safety rules without closing down some important venues, then there should be a grant given to venues, or at least low interest loans offered along with the tax credit.

Posted by DM | April 2, 2007 11:45 AM

While you are at it tell her HELL NO on SB 6040 the Pork for NASCAR bill.

Posted by Jake of | April 2, 2007 11:55 AM

While I agree that Clubs should get some help via tax breaks or other means to offset the cost of this requirement, I think the clubs in this town are behind and now they realize they've waited to long and - oh shit, the deadline is coming up! In reality, this statewide requirement has been known about for at least a year now, probably more. I know that other jurisdictions have been working with their local clubs to meet the requirements starting over a year ago. I know I knew about it and asked friends in the industry about it a year ago and got blank stares - so maybe Seattle is just behind. Either way, if it helps to save clubs, by all means extend the deadline, but don't act like there wasn't enough time to respond.

Posted by scharrera | April 2, 2007 12:40 PM

where was this call to arms back when this bill was proposed? and how stupid would we feel if a nonsprinklered club here had a fatal fire-related incident of any kind?

Posted by frederick r | April 2, 2007 1:12 PM

Surprisingly, this bill was passed with no notification to the nightclub industry. Everyone I spoke with learned about it after it was passed.

Jamie Pedersen is doing a fine job working on this. Most importantly right now is that the timeline get pushed back, then there is other possible assistance on the way in next year's session.

Posted by DM | April 2, 2007 1:45 PM

I don't know #13, maybe about as stupid as we'll feel if a stretch of the Viaduct collapses with cars on it.

Not meaning to be flip, but public safety is an imperfect and complicated issue, with a lot of facets that need to be balanced. The Viaduct underscores this. Nobody disagrees that it poses a safety danger in its present state. But determining the best was to address these safety concerns has turned out to be pretty complicated.

Sprinklers in clubs obviously don't rise to that level. But this requirement is nevertheless a complicated thing to implement fairly, especially in the largest municipality in the state.

Just because we are biggest, it doesn't mean we necessarily have that many more contractors who specialize in this kind of work. Think about how many more sprinkler system are required because of this bill. The capacity to install them does just automatically scale right up along with this new demand.

So putting aside the cost (which will be bone crushing for a lot of businesses), the practical logistics of just getting people in to make bids and start the work are complicated.

If you've ever done a home remodel, or known someone who has, you can attest to the reality that the building trades move at their own rate of speed: Slow. Commercial projects tend to be even more complicated. And while it's easy to assumed the business people are somehow more experienced than the average homeowner in dealing with this sort of thing, often they aren't.

This is a well intentioned bill and I don't think anyone disagrees with its goal. We just need to make sure we don't throw the baby out with the bath water.

We've seen gentrification kills so many longstanding businesses. Every time one goes, another little piece of our local culture goes with it. So it will really be adding insult to injury if this bill ends up hastening the demise of even more of the businesses that make Seattle special.

Posted by j-lon | April 2, 2007 2:02 PM

I'm looking forward to reading in Stranger pages when there is a big fire in a club too.

Oh. Wait. Consequences ... something in short supply, huh?

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 2, 2007 2:19 PM

#15 all i'm saying is that advocacy, from camel-toed drag queens, no less, often comes with a price. a longstanding business might be a great place to hang out in. but the longer these businesses have been in business, the more apt they are to ignore trivialities such as fire-code regs, etc. the immediacy of this bill does speed this issue to action now. it has to. given our state's checkered past regarding consensus-based decisionmaking (viaduct?), this may be the only way change would ever occur.

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