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Friday, June 1, 2007

Nightlife Update

posted by on June 1 at 17:02 PM

Sally Clark’s proposed nightlife regulations aren’t official yet (and won’t be until sometime next week; more on that in a minute), but bars and clubs are already expressing concern that the proposal, as described in a “briefing paper” issued by Clark’s office yesterday, is even more restrictive and punitive than the mayor’s proposed nightlife license scheme. “There are some things [in the briefing paper] that we can work with, but as an overall package, this goes far beyond what the mayor proposed,” nightlife lobbyist Tim Hatley says. “These would probably be the most stringent regulations in the country. It’s not an improvement.” Clark says her proposal is an improvement on the mayor’s, because it focuses on violence instead of nuisance crimes. “For me, it came down to how many of these things are really important enough to have that be the item you can get your license suspended or revoked for,” Clark says. “To me, that came down to violence.”

Clark’s proposal, like the mayor’s, includes a new $300 license for all bars and clubs over a certain size and occupant density. The main difference, in Clark’s view, is that the city can only pull a license for violent incidents. (Other violations will result in an as-yet-unspecified fine). However, many aspects of her legislation echo the mayor’s—and, in some cases, Clark’s proposal goes much further. The legislation still includes the concept of “impacted public areas”—currently defined as all areas within 50 feet of a club’s front door—leaving open the possibility that the city could shut down a club because a fight breaks out on the sidewalk outside. Clark says the 50-foot perimeter could be reduced, but adds, “There’s a reasonable argument to be made that what happens in front of your business is your responsibility.”

Clark’s proposal also includes all the “operating standards” in the mayor’s original legislation; introduces the possibility of new regulations, such as licenses for bouncers and promoters; and actually increases penalties for violating the city’s noise and nuisance codes. While noise violations will result in escalating fines starting at $2,000, nuisance violations could result in “abatement,” or shutting a club down as a nuisance to the neighborhood.

“Six grand [the fine for a third noise violation] could cripple a club,” Hatley says. “And then you get into modifying the nuisance code—[the proposal] says we can shut you down for just being a ‘nuisance’—well, what does that mean?

The legislation will be discussed in a public hearing at council chambers at 5:30 pm on Monday, June 4. The actual text of the proposal, however, won’t be available until after the hearing, another sore spot for nightlife supporters. Hatley notes that the mayor first started discussing new nightlife regulations almost two years ago; Clark plans to move her proposal through in just three weeks. “I mean, hello, these are major changes!” Hatley says. “To spring this on us with no actual language is just ridiculous.”

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so will bouncers patrol and restrict access to 50ft perimeters of sidewalk? I seriously doubt that.

“There’s a reasonable argument to be made that what happens in front of your business is your responsibility.”

There is an even more reasonable argument that the establishment is only responsible for what goes on inside the establishment, rather than the public areas that may have incidents completely unrelated.

Posted by Vooodooo84 | June 1, 2007 5:32 PM

So get a better bouncer. Club shouldn't think they can push people out of the place onto the street and then wipe your hands of it.

Posted by watcher | June 1, 2007 5:39 PM

The city council just keeps getting more and more ridiculous. Peter was smart to abandon this sinking ship.

Posted by Sean | June 1, 2007 7:05 PM

i agree with watcher: clubs in this city too often just toss disorderly folk onto the sidewalk and expect everyone else to deal with them. i can't even count how many times i've been in pioneer square and seen this happen-- haven't most of the problems there been outside, not inside the bars?

i think that there is a reasonable amount that clubs should be required to maintain outside their doors.

Posted by watcher wins | June 1, 2007 7:09 PM

@2 & @4:
First, nightclubs are no more responsible for some asshole's violent behavior than those poor raver kids were for Kyle Huff's shooting spree. If violence is the main concern, then Clark (who likely hasn't seen the inside of a nightclub in 20 years) should be working with the police force - you know, the ones we pay to handle violent assholes.

Second, what exactly do you expect clubs to do? They are not the police, and even if they were, the good ones evict people before any laws have been broken. And what happens if they do call the police? It goes on record as a violent incident.

I shouldn't be surprised by this law. This, afterall, is the same bunch of goody-two-shoes who passed the four-foot rule to run strip clubs out of business.

Hey Woodinville - looking for a city council? Have we got a group for you!

Posted by Sean | June 1, 2007 9:09 PM

I predict that this is the end of Yo Son at the War Room.

Posted by Tiffany | June 1, 2007 9:18 PM

I could be wrong, but on the east coast, isn't it the homeowners responsibilty to shovel the snow off their sidewalk? After slipping on ice, I think more than a few opportunists have crippled a family's finances through lawsuits. With this in mind, I just as soon fight back if I get punched by a drunk, which of course an older lady might not be able to do, but like Anthony H. said, you're in the public sphere, watch yourself.

Posted by Holden | June 1, 2007 9:42 PM

Sally Clark is turning out to be one of the more conservative members of the Seattle City Council that we've seen. Her recent statements supporting the 4-foot rule, her amendments to further restrict the zoning for strip clubs, and now her efforts to further regulate night clubs.

Now that she's starting to assert herself, I'm not sure I like what I see.

Posted by Sally Clark A Prude? | June 1, 2007 10:36 PM

It's so nice for me to have found this blog of yours, it's so interesting. I sure hope and wish that you take courage enough to pay me a visit in my PALAVROSSAVRVS REX!, and plus get some surprise. My blog is also so cool!

Feel free off course to comment as you wish and remember: don't take it wrong, don't think that this visitation I make was a matter of more audiences for my own blogg. No. It's a matter of making universal, realy universal, all this question of bloggs.

I think it's to UNITE MANKIND! Don't see language as an obstacle. That's not the point. Open your heart and come along!!!!!

Posted by PALAVROSSAVRVS REX | June 2, 2007 5:55 AM

Sally Clark has just shown her true colors. She's a small time bureaucrat bowing to pressure from an incompetent and corrupt Mayor and Police force, with no ideas, no balance, and is a prude for sure. She is the nanny pushing further Nickel's nanny state policies. Someone please switch races and run against Sally!! Angel?!?

Posted by Frank | June 2, 2007 3:49 PM

This proposal could be for more egregious and anti-nightlife than what the Mayor originally proposed. This action signifies that Clark, head of the City Council committee overseeing the Mayor's proposal, is caving to pressure from the Mayor and Seattle Police. The new ordinance does the following:

- Embraces the mayor’s proposal of creating a new special "nightlife license" which would be used to close down clubs at the discretion of the city. The new language we haven't seen yet supposedly defines nightclubs based on entertainment - very similar to the unconstitutional Added Activities Ordinance.

- Significantly increases fines for noise violations from $500 up to $6,000 per violation with no warning.

- Amends the current Mark Sidran era vaugue and potentially racist "nuisance" ordinances so the city could more easily close down clubs

- Requests the mayor to consider even more regulations on nightlife establishments , including more licenses for things like 'bouncers'.

- Makes business owners responsible for actions of individuals not on their premises, who may not even be their customers, even though the business owner legally can take no steps to control the individual's behavior. Club owners are also not allowed to hire off duty SPD officers to patrol outside their venues to deter any violence, taking a tool away from the industry that large concert promoters and sports teams are allowed.

- Creates more fees and more regulations for an already risky and suffering industry without offering any support.

- Ignores the real concerns of the neighbors, doing nothing to decrease street crime in neighborhoods and nothing to deal with noise and nuisance created by people on the street at night.

If this entire package were to be adopted, Seattle would have some of the most stringent nightlife regulations in the country. This is an anti-music, anti-nightlife, nanny state proposal. Sally Clark has also backed the Mayor's insane strip club 4-foot rule. Clark is head of the City's Neighborhood and Economic develpment committee yet has offered no economic development ideas to support the music industry, just more licenses and regulations that will harm the industry.

The Nightlife industry has met with Clark several times, offering ideas that would help solve the real issues of urban density and nightlife. Our input has been largely ignored.

It appears that Councilmember Clark is intent on seeking approval of all elements of the package! This would have a devastating impact our music industry!!

Your voice needs to be heard now and loud.

First, email the City Councilmembers today demanding they not support this horrid proposal. Then attend the June 4th public hearing on this package. It begins at 5:30. Get there early to sign up! This hearing is in the City Council Chambers on the 2nd floor of City Hall located at 600 - 4th Ave downtown.

Below are the emails to the councilmembers: 684-8803 684-8802 ** 684-8805 684-8806** 684-8801 684-8807** 684-8800 684-8808** 684-8804**

** indicates these members are up for reelection this year. Peter Steinbrueck is not seeking reelection and this will be an open seat.

watch for updates and more info

Posted by Meinert | June 2, 2007 4:23 PM

Why does Clark have to be "caving to pressure"? Can't she have her own opinion that there are not other viable options? Yes, yes, I hear that other options were presented and she IGNORED them. Or maybe, just maybe, that's the perspective of someone whose ideas WERE considered and just not found workable.

Posted by watcher | June 2, 2007 6:46 PM

#12: Sally has appeared to cave because she is going against her previously stated policy direction, outlined in an extremely recent (May 20) Seattle P-I article. She stated:

""The data ... doesn't show that this is such a widespread problem that I could support licensing an entire class of businesses," said City Councilwoman Sally Clark, who leads the committee considering Nickels' proposal."

The Mayor proposed the license originally and always lobbies for his proposals. (Our elected City Attorney, who seems to be the secret 10th Councilmember here, is strongly pushing for this license as well.)

She is now proposing a license. What gives?

Posted by cave | June 2, 2007 7:27 PM

#2: Many of these clubs are right next to each other. Let's say some jerk gets drunk in Club #1, but punches/hurts/stabs someone out in Tavern #5 down the street. Tavern #5 is held responsible, gets their license revoked and closes.

Much like the 25-foot rule with the smoking ban, this 50-foot rule is problematic.

Posted by and | June 2, 2007 7:31 PM

Say it with me, folks: just because someone's a lesbian doesn't mean she's progressive, kinky, or remotely fun.

Sally Clark is a white middle aged, middle class lesbian with white middle aged, middle class values. Prove to me she's not a complete teetotaler. Her lesbianism is irrelevant, and I would never call her queer.

She's close to my age, we share a sexual orientation, and we probably both vote democrat. Other than that, we have very very little in common. If there was anyone else to vote for, I'd do it. Don't let her pull a Cheney or Guiliani on you. Pro-gay values don't equal progressiveness.

Posted by Yes She Is a Prude | June 3, 2007 2:37 PM

Well, she does get up at 4AM to practice crew. That leaves little time to go out at night, at least after 10PM.

Posted by well | June 3, 2007 3:08 PM

Sally did NOT back the 4 foot rule. She wasn't even on the council then. And when did Sally's lesbianism become a relevant point in this conversation?

Posted by Huh? | June 3, 2007 5:17 PM

"I know there's a lot of argument over is there a real impact versus the perception. (But) people take that perception pretty darned seriously," said Councilwoman Sally Clark, who was not on the council when the rules were approved but supports them. "I don't think that makes me a prudish person," she said.

Posted by MEINERT | June 3, 2007 5:20 PM

Give me one other single reason besides her sexual orientation that anyone would have expected Clark to make less conservative recommendations than she's proposing. What else says she's NOT on the conservative side of the Council?

Who's surprized? Not me.

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Posted by Bill | June 12, 2007 12:32 PM


Posted by Bill | June 12, 2007 12:32 PM


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