News Nightlife Crackdown Continues: City Forces Neumos to Reduce Capacity
posted by May 19 at 10:36 AMon
Originally posted Friday night.
In recent weeks, the city has been cracking down on Capitol Hill’s nightlife. Club owners and bartenders say they’ve repeatedly been harassed by Seattle Police, the Fire Marshall’s office and other city agencies. Now, Neumos—Capitol Hill’s largest live music venue—is catching heat from the city over their crowd capacity.
Neumos’ co-owner Steve Severin just sent an email explaining the problem:
Neumos was recently and suddenly informed by the City of Seattle of a new interpretation of the capacity rules for our venue that is leading to some unwieldy restrictions during shows. It is not a change to our overall capacity, rather a limitation on allowing people to move freely throughout the venue, from the showroom floor, to the mezzanine, to Moe Bar, and reduces the number of tickets we can sell. Instead, the City is telling us that patrons have to stay in divided areas.
We have been going through all the proper channels to correct this as quickly as possible and we have been receiving some assistance from certain departments within the city. The Fire department has been flexible and is working with us this weekend to help solve some of these problems connected with the restricted flow to these areas. The earliest we are able to have our initial meeting with the Department of Planning and Development will be May 28th. We have been pleading to get the appointment moved up, but have been unable to get that done. Unfortunately we are being expected to try to change our entire business model over night, without the time to train staff, adjust customers expectations, and re-design our business model.
The building and its occupancy have been interpreted the same way for 15 years.
We hope we can get this sorted out and put behind us so we can continue to do what we are designed to do, which is bring quality music to a thriving music city, in a responsible and professional manner.
Indeed, the city’s newly imposed crowd regulations appear to be becoming a frequent problem for Neumos. A sign on the club’s front door reads:
Due to an unexpected reinterpretation of the capacity limits at Neumos by the Seattle Fire Department, the audience at tonight’s show will have to be separated between the floor and the balcony.
Once the venue is at capacity, patrons will be able to move from space to space on a one-in one-out basis.
Seattle Fire Department Spokeswoman Helen Fitzpatrick says SFD has been working with Neumos, issuing permits allowing them to temporarily expand their newly limited capacity for one or two nights at a time.
The city’s Department of Planning and Development—which enforces Fire Marshall violations—was not able to provide information on any occupancy changes for the building and SFD did not return a call for comment this afternoon.