City New, New, New Nightlife License Proposed. Again.
posted by August 9 at 15:45 PMon
Yet another new proposal for a nightclub license is making the rounds at City Hall, this one supported by Jan Drago and David Della. The latest proposal, though substantially less restrictive than earlier ones, is still being opposed by club industry representatives, who say legislation passed last week by Sally Clark’s neighborhoods committee makes the license redundant and unnecessary.
Here’s the background: A week ago, Clark’s committee adopted a package of legislation (read all about it here) that regulates, but does not license, large bars and clubs. The package has four main elements: It amends city law to allow the city to “abate” clubs that allow overcrowding; requires all clubs to come up with a written security plan that spells out how the club will deal with violence and crowding issues; proposes a new nightlife enforcement team; and directs the mayor to propose additional regulations (which, by the way, is how we got into this nightlife morass in the first place).
The latest iteration of the nightlife license, which Clark’s committee will discuss at 6pm next Thursday (at High Point Community Center; meeting schedule and address here) would apply only to large (200-plus) establishments that serve booze after 10 pm, charge admission, and make most of their money from admission and booze. That rules out most bars, and limits the ordinance to the largest clubs. It also removes the unenforceable requirement that clubs monitor nearby sidewalks and parking lots for violence and litter; under the new ordinance, club owners would merely be required “to implement all reasonable measures to prevent violent criminal activity on the premises.” And it puts off until later a new noise ordinance, which is being drafted by council staffers now.
So why does the nightlife lobby hate it? According to Seattle Nightlife and Music Association lobbyist Tim Hatley, the legislation overlaps with provisions that have already been adopted, and gives the city a tool to put clubs out of business (by denying or revoking a license). “Itís still a license that can be yanked and a license that can be denied,” Hatley says.
The council plans to vote on the first four elements of the package in full council Monday. Says Hatley of the long-running drama: “They should just vote on the entire package and let us just get on with our lives.” Hear, hear.