Having been in both Pioneer Square and the heart of Belltown at 2AM, I have experienced the Seattle nightlife scene first hand. The alcohol flows almost to the point of club closure and then the security steps in and yells “Everyone get the hell out!”. Just like cattle the patrons are pushed out the door. In some clubs in Seattle, that is saying it nicely. As the Seattle nightlife drowns their sorrows (and the just acquired $8 drink or two) they stumble to the streets by the hundreds. The sidewalks are filled with the sober, drunks, wannabe gang bangers, and pan handlers dodging the next vomit location. Just outside of some clubs you can’t even walk on the sidewalk because of the crowds. Getting a taxi is almost impossible and lines are formed on every corner with the nightlife folk waiting to pay for their delicious $5 dollar hot dog (they really are good). A lot of the crowd just hangs around smoking and/or hoping to meet a new “friend” to go home with. Unfortunately, there is nowhere to go after hours so many just jump in their cars and drive home drunk.
I have personally talked about extended Seattle nightlife hours for a good year or more now. It’s an obvious fix that needs to happen. We simply can’t have hundreds of people forced out of the Seattle clubs with nowhere to go but home (driving drunk). The city probably does pretty well since the average DUI will cost you about $10,000. I must say the police presence is pretty good due to several incidents this year.
With the support of the Seattle Police Department and Mayor Mike McGinn, the proposal of extending the Seattle nightlife club hours is in the works. Right now Seattle clubs must close between the hours of 2AM and 6AM (that is not exactly true – I know one nightclub in Belltown that is open until 5AM). This proposal may allow bars to remain open longer or 24hrs. My understanding is that the proposal is also supported by Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and some of the Seattle City Council Members already. The State Liquor Control Board will most likely take their time with a decision and use their power of authority to hang it over the heads of many business owners. New rules will be created by the Liquor Board only to complicate the matter even more. It should be a no brainer decision, however.
Let me make it simple. The proposal should be that the alcohol stops at 2AM (as it does now) but the clubs may remain open for as long as they like. They may continue to play the music, serve non alcoholic drinks, and food. This will allow the patrons to stay in the club (spending money and generating more tax revenue) and give them a natural way to sober up. It also stops the flood of people getting pushed onto the streets all at once. There you have it, write it up, problem solved. You’re welcome.