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SECTION IV. - MAINTAINING YOUR NIGHTLIFE ESTABLISHMENT
Maintaining Neighborhood Relations
Staying active in your community and building relationships with your neighbors is something that requires a bit of extra work on your part, but there is no doubt it will benefit you in the long run.
In addition to attending local community meetings, joining and contributing to neighborhood associations, and communicating with both neighborhood business owners and local law enforcement, it is critical to stay aware of potential negative impacts your business may have on your immediate neighbors. In the long run, staying involved with neighboring business owners and residents is beneficial to all parties, and vital to maintaining a vibrant nightlife.
Be sure the area surrounding your immediate premise is kept clear and free of litter or cigarette butts. Implement a no tolerance policy where code of conduct is concerned, and be sure that code is enforced both inside and outside your immediate premises. Consider the safety of your neighborhood, not just the safety of your immediate premise, as vital to the success of your business.
Know your Noise Ordinances
The general rules on public nuisance noise can be found in SMC 25.08.500. “It is unlawful for any person knowingly to cause or make, or for any person in possession of property knowingly to allow or originate from the property, unreasonable noise which disturbs another, and to refuse or intentionally fail to cease the unreasonable noise when ordered to do so by a police officer... or any employee of the Department of Planning and Development authorized by the Director of that Department." Unreasonable noise" shall include but is not limited to the following sounds or combination of sounds:
- Loud or raucous, and frequent, repetitive, or continuous sounds created by use of a musical instrument, or other device capable of producing sound when struck by an object, a whistle, or a sound amplifier or other device capable of producing, amplifying, or reproducing sound.
- Loud and raucous, and frequent, repetitive, or continuous sounds made by the amplified or unamplified human voice between the hours of ten (10:00) p.m. and seven (7:00) a.m.
For complete definitions and rules on Noise Control, see SMC 25.08.
In December, 2007, the City Council passed Noise Ordinance #122614. This new nightlife ordinance states that "it is unlawful for any person in possession of real property, other than residential property, to allow to originate from that property between the hours of ten (10:00) p.m. and seven (7:00) a.m. amplified noise that is plainly audible to a person of normal hearing when measured inside a receiving dwelling unit."
Currently, the City is working to promulgate the rules specified in the ordinance.
Mediating the impact of amplified sound is extremely important and can be accomplished by installing double entry doors, keeping windows closed while amplified sound is played, or by installing buffering walls and/or ceilings. Have a sound engineer evaluate your premises, and work with you to establish speaker placement, maximum amplification settings, and other noise control options. To evaluate and monitor your own output, consider purchasing a sound meter. If possible, choose a meter that is American National Standards Institute (ANSI) rated Type I or II. Type 1 is used for precision measurements in the field, and Type 2 is used for general-purpose measurements. For compliance purposes, readings with an ANSI Type 2 sound level meter and dosimeter are considered to have an accuracy of ±2 dBA, while a Type 1 instrument has an accuracy of ±1 dBA
Know Your Liquor Laws
When it comes to State Liquor Laws, there are several ways violations may be enforced. Violations may be issued via direct inspections by liquor enforcement officers, in response to police reports or in response to citizen complaints. Law enforcement, liquor officers and regulatory agencies such as the fire and health departments have the right to inspect your premises for violations.
Types of conduct prohibited on a liquor licensed premises can be found at WAC 314-11-050.
Employees under 21 yrs old
A person must be twenty-one years of age or older to be employed in the sale, handling, or service of liquor, except as provided in this chapter. Persons between eighteen and twenty-one years of age may perform certain duties as proscribed by Washington law. (see WAC 314-11-040)
Performers as Employees
Washington State Law prohibits any liquor licensee, or employees of a licensee, from consuming liquor of any kind while working on the licensed premises. (WAC 314-11-015) This includes all public spaces such as behind the bar, in general assembly areas, in a DJ booth or on stage.
According to Washington State case law, any performers or DJs contracted to provide a service in liquor establishments are considered employees of the establishment and are therefore prohibited from consuming alcohol while performing that service either on stage or in a DJ booth. For more information on this law and it’s implications for your business, contact the WSLCB at (360) 664-1600 or via their website at http://www.liq.wa.gov/.
Know your Smoking Law:
Washington State Law (RCW 70.160) prohibits smoking in all workplaces including bars and restaurants. Public Health has issued the following guidance notice in regards to smoking restrictions in King County: Smoking is prohibited in all indoor areas of nightlife establishments. In addition, smoking is prohibited in any area under the control of an employer where employees must pass through during the course of their employment, where alcohol is permitted, on any portion of a building (including decks, patios, rooftops, etc), and within 25 ft of a window, door, or air-intake to an indoor area.
Nightlife business owners are encouraged to be mindful of their neighbors when determining where to direct people to smoke. In order to prevent unintentional violations of the smoking ban, ashtrays and other smoking paraphernalia should never be placed within 25 ft of any protected area.
For more information on this law and it's implications to your business, contact Public Health Seattle & King County at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 206-296-7613.
Know Your local resources
Seattle Nightlife & Music Association
The Seattle Nightlife & Music Association (“SNMA”) is a coalition of music, nightclub, and bar interests. The association seeks to provide nightlife customers a safe and vibrant nightlife, protect music venue, bar, and club owner's rights, respond to proposals which impact the industry, support local communities, and promote responsible music venue, bar, and club management.
SNMA is an important resource for nightlife business owners. They provide members with an invaluable connection to their community. Contact the SNMA via their website at seattle-nma.org, by phone at 206-624-7022 or by email at rachel@seattleNMA.org.
Neighborhood Business Organizations
Research neighborhood associations, chambers of commerce, community organizations and neighborhood service centers or block watches at the Dept. of Neighborhoods website http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/, the Office of Economic Development at http://www.seattle.gov/economicdevelopment/support_map.htm, or by calling the Film + Music office at (206) 684-8504.
WA State Restaurant Association (WRA) – Seattle Chapter
The WRA, which includes an Education Foundation, responds to member needs by providing a variety of programs that help businesses succeed. This includes educational classes, such as food safety and alcohol server training, and many business assistance programs, such as a workers’ compensation program, health insurance and financial and legal consultation.
In addition to these programs, the WRA provides government relations services. The association directly represents members through lobbying efforts with the state Legislature and has one of the most sophisticated and effective grassroots lobbying organizations in the state. Learn more about the Seattle Chapter on the WRA website, http://www.wrahome.com.
Maintaining Safety & Security
As you are undoubtedly aware by now, Nightlife hospitality businesses have many more regulatory and enforcement agencies to comply with, are subject to more oversight and inspections, and face greater risk of liability than the average business. Your best strategy for maintaining safety & security is to develop and maintain a comprehensive risk management program and strategy.
The terms “safety” and “security” are often used interchangeably to describe the concept of protection from injury, danger and loss. However the practical applications of safety and security are guided by different principles in achieving this goal.
The provision of safety necessitates the prevention of potential risks and hazards through precautionary tactics. Safety measures often address environmental stimuli that may encourage excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, contribute to violent or aggressive behavior in patrons, or interfere with an economically viable business.
In contrast, security tactics can be characterized as more reactionary than precautionary in nature. The primary role of security staff within an establishment is usually to survey the crowd’s conduct and to confront intoxicated and/or aggressive patrons.
Generally, people act in a way that is irresponsible for one of three reasons: They don’t know the rules or boundaries; they know of but don’t know how to follow the rules or boundaries; or they know how but don’t care. Effective management requires an understanding of these basic principles and works to support all three types.
Ongoing training of service, security, and management staff is crucial to the effective implementation of policies and procedures. Selecting the proper training requires an understanding of risk, the level of training required, appropriateness of curriculum to the needs of the business, qualifications of the instructors, and the integrity of the agency or organization providing the training.
When determining the level of training your service staff and/or security staff require, first consider your level of risk. For example, the Responsible Hospitality Institute offers the following risk level categories:
A low risk business is one that serves alcoholic beverages as a secondary source of revenue, depending primarily on food sales. These businesses typically do not have a separate lounge area, rarely or never provide entertainment, have limited seating under 100 people, owner available during most or all business hours, may cater to older clientele, may make beverages available only with food, and may have early closing hours.
A medium risk business depends more on the sale of alcoholic beverages but still maintains a higher percentage of food sales. Generally there is a separate lounge area, entertainment may be provided, clientele varies depending on time of day or day of week, and there is a relatively low amount of staff turnover.
A high risk business has beverage sales that exceed food sales, caters to young or heavy drinking clientele, is generally accessible by automobile, usually by traveling on highways or interstates, and typically does not have direct owner involvement in management. Typically staffed and managed by young or inexperienced individuals, experiencing high turnover and offering low compensation. These businesses depend on high volume at a few select times such as weekend nights, otherwise the business has low or no volume of sales.
Seattle Police Department: Security Training for NightLIFE Employees
The Seattle Police Department offers a Security Training Program with classes open to the public several times a year. These classes are not just for security personnel. Security training is imperative for individuals who work physical security or screen patrons at the door. It is also extremely beneficial to any employee who regularly interacts with your clientele. Maintaining a highly-trained staff, ready to deal with difficult situations, is vital to the safety of both your patrons and your employees. We hope you will take advantage of this important opportunity. Contact The Seattle Police Security Training Coordinator at (206) 684-8661.
Hiring Off-Duty Seattle Police Officers
Department policy prohibits, under any circumstances, Seattle Police from working for or on behalf of establishments that sell or dispense intoxicating beverages. This policy is in place to prevent any actual or perceived conflicts of interest.
However, SPD recognizes that under certain conditions, the augmentation of on-duty officers with the presence and services of off-duty officers may enhance public safety in specific areas. Areas with a high concentration of liquor establishments have the opportunity to join together and work closely with SPD to provide additional security officers to specifically defined areas.
SPD may grant permits for the employment of off-duty SPD officers, in a secondary employment capacity, to business associations meeting eligibility requirements and agreeing to be bound by specific terms and conditions. Applications are considered on a case-by–case basis.
Review a sample agreement, terms and conditions, and a sample application form attached as Appendix J. Questions and additional information about this opportunity should be directed to the SPD Audit, Accreditation and Policy Section at (206) 684-4116.
All-Ages Dance and Underage Performers
If a liquor licensed premises is open to the public for food service, and not restricted to minors, minors must be off the entire premise after 11pm if there is live entertainment. If the liquor licensee obtains an exception to this restriction, through the WSLCB, then all-ages shows are permitted only when minors may not be present in or have access to any area where they have access to alcohol. There must be an established system for keeping alcohol away from minors - such as restricting alcohol service and consumption inside a lounge area, and not allowing it into the restaurant or live entertainment area.
For dedicated all-ages events or venues where no alcohol is served, performers of any age are allowed at all times during regular operating hours. The City of Seattle requires you to have a license for all-ages dance. See the ‘Special Licenses and Permits’ section of Section II.
Instituting a ‘no re-entry’ policy is strongly encouraged when holding all-ages events. This eliminates the possibility of underage patrons leaving, only to return intoxicated after consuming alcohol off-premises. You are still responsible for an intoxicated person on your premises, even if they drank outside. This includes an intoxicated minor on your premises during an all-ages event regardless of where that minor consumed the alcohol.
There are special concerns when a 21+ venue holds an all-ages show, and a special license is required as well. Consultations regarding all-ages events are encouraged and can be arranged through the Nightlife Technical Assistance Program. If you would like further information on policies and procedures for conducting all ages shows, including how to stage and monitor separation of 21+ from underage patrons, please contact the Film + Music Office at (206) 684-8504.
Underage Performers in 21+ establishments
Performers 18 and older are allowed to play in 21+ liquor licensed venues. State Law dictates that underage performers cannot be present in a venue where alcohol is being served at any time prior to their set, during breaks, or after playing their set.
Performers 17 and under are not allowed in 21+ venues to perform at any time for any reason (unless it is an all-ages show as explained above). The RCW addressing this issue can be found here http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=66.44.316.
RCW 66.44.316 specifically provides:
"It is lawful for: (1) Professional musicians, professional disc jockeys, or professional sound or lighting technicians actively engaged in support of professional musicians or professional disc jockeys, eighteen years of age and older, to enter and to remain in any premises licensed under the provisions of Title 66 RCW, but only during and in the course of their employment as musicians, disc jockeys, or sound or lighting technicians;..."
Hiring underage musicians doesn’t have to be a hassle if you take a controlled approach. ID every band member and clearly stamp or wristband both 21+ and underage performers so staff can clearly identify them. You may be able to provide a designated area where there is no access to alcohol, but if that is not possible your staff will be able to easily recognize who should not be present in areas where alcohol is being served. Either way, be consistent in implementing your plan in order to remain in compliance with liquor laws.
NIGHT CLUB– BEST PRACTICES
The goal of this section is to assist nightlife business owners in maintaining safe bars, nightclubs and lounges by offering suggestions for different types of security measures, both indoors and out.
These guidelines were developed in cooperation with Seattle Police and law enforcement entities from other jurisdictions, as well as input from Seattle community members. We thank the many contributors who offered their experience and advice.
The suggestions listed here are meant as a general road map for operations, not as a list of laws applicable to all establishments or to all situations. Using your best judgment and keeping these suggestions in mind could help decrease the number of public safety incidents attributable to your business.
- Perform background and reference checks of all employees. At a minimum you can obtain a simple criminal conviction background check via the Washington State Patrol for a $10 fee. Request online at https://watch.wsp.wa.gov/ or contact the State Patrol at (360) 534-2000.
- Ensure that staff is trained to maintain clear stairways, exit routes, and aisles at all times.
- See that Shift Managers and/or Supervisors are responsible for checking all emergency exits at the beginning of shift AND for making sure that exits remain clear and unlocked for the duration of their shift.
- Train security staff to complete incident reports or log entries for every Security, Police, Injury, Use of Force, or other Public Safety incident that occurs in our around your immediate premises. If possible, obtain an SPD incident report number.
- Hiring event promoters with a valid business license and professional references is in your best interest. Be sure to check their references and check out other events they may be promoting to see what they are about. Look for previous events where related public safety incidents may have occurred. You place your business at risk by turning it over to an unlicensed, inexperienced or unscrupulous promoter, so be sure to do your research.
- Be aware of how and where events will be advertised, and do not allow excessive promoting of events.
- Always require a written, fully executed contract with your event promoter. Work with your legal counsel to draft a contract that addresses issues of staffing, security, ID and weapons screening, occupancy, over-service, drugs & contraband, finances, and admissions tax. You, the business owner, are liable for these items. Without a contract and a clear agreement with your promoter, you could be left high and dry. Liability stays with you and your club, so keep your investment safe by maintaining control at all times.
- Never allow a promoter or their staff to control ID checking at the door, the clicker, the bar, or collection of the cover charge. While it is a promoter’s job to get as many people through your door as possible, you are liable for occupancy limits, contraband, weapons, behavior, levels of intoxication, admissions tax, etc.
- Be sure you communicate the admissions tax requirement to your promoter and that an agreement is in writing prior to the event. As the business owner, you are responsible for payment of this tax. If you choose to allow someone other than your staff to collect entry fees, it is still your responsibility to collect and pay the 5% admissions tax. (see Section III re admissions tax requirements)
- Age Verification & ID Policy: Whether to use scanners or black lights is up to the establishment, but experience has shown that clubs where scanners are used have far fewer issues with bad IDs at entry. All door staff should be aware of policies like types of acceptable vs. unacceptable ID, what to do when encountering fake ID. Be aware that as of June, 2009 U.S. passport cards are an acceptable form of identification for purchasing alcohol or tobacco. Policies should be clear and consistent, and strictly enforced. Again, keep the line moving as smoothly as possible and ensure that a problem solver is always near the door to deal with issues.
It is imperative that all security personnel be thoroughly trained by a qualified organization. We encourage you to send your staff through SPD’s updated security training program. It is a day long training that is inexpensive and will provide your staff with valuable information. (see page 30 for details)
- Weapons / Contraband Screening: Whether you decide to use wands, pat-downs, purse checks, or another form of screening, be sure there is no confusion about your policy. Maintaining clear, consistent enforcement is imperative. Weapons of any kind have no place in your business, and firearms of any kind are prohibited by law inside of any liquor establishment in the State of Washington. Establishments have a duty to call 911 when weapons are discovered, in case of injuries and medical emergencies, or when any criminal activity is discovered. You may be liable for any criminal activity that occurs as a result of failure to report. Whether or not these instances are reported to police, an internal record should be kept at the very least.
- Staff Uniforms: Whether it is a shirt or jacket, consistency in identifiable club employees, security, and door staff is imperative for crowd control. Ensure that your staff are aware of each position’s responsibilities, and provide clear and concise job descriptions.
Particularly, Security staff should all be easily identifiable in “Security” marked shirts or jackets. If you choose to employ plain-clothes security, they should not take action unless identifiable security staff is present, or if it is a dire emergency. In such instances, they should clearly identify themselves as security before engaging patrons “hands on.”
- Floor Roamers: Assign dedicated employees to roam the club, bathrooms, VIP areas, etc. Experienced, well-trained security staff will mediate and diffuse situations before they escalate.
- Security Staffing: In addition to entry security personnel (ID checks, weapon checks, line queues) it is crucial to have enough security staff monitoring your patrons inside. For high volume nightclubs, a ratio of 1 security per 50 patrons as a starting point, but there is no magic number.
- Security Staff Equipment: Special consideration should be given to the equipment your security staff will use:
- Firearms: Only licensed, private, outside security personnel are allowed to carry firearms, and never inside your premises.
- Flashlights: Security staff should carry relatively small high-powered flashlights in lieu of the Mag-Light style which are heavier and might become a dangerous weapon or be turned against security personnel.
- Handcuffs / Restraints: When properly used, handcuffs are the safer option for restraining patrons prior until SPD assistance arrives.
- Pepper Spray (OC): If you choose to outfit security staff with pepper spray, you must make it clear that under no circumstances should anyone discharge pepper spray inside your premises. Widespread panic and injury is inevitable as a result of indoor pepper spray use. If security determines pepper spray is warranted, it should only be discharged outdoors and away from exits or ventilation ducts. Certain types of pepper spray are not allowed, so consult with SPD before you authorize use by security personnel. For further information about pepper spray and its reaction when used with tasers, see the linked article from Law Officer Magazine.
- Two-way Radios: Internal radio usage is up to the establishment, and highly recommended, particularly if crowds consistently top occupancy limits. Security staff and management should be in constant contact, ready to resolve problems before they escalate. In addition, be in contact with other neighboring clubs to let them know when an unruly patron has been removed from your premises.
- CCTV: While there are no requirements for security camera monitoring, taking this measure protects you as much as is protects your patrons and assists law enforcement. Establishing a pattern of good practice is key. Consider cameras to monitor entrances, exits, and any other sensitive or problem areas. CCTV systems should have at least one weeks to a month of footage before they over-write, and any footage that exists must be immediately given over to law enforcement if requested for incident investigation.
- Lighting: If you have crowd control issues, it may help to bring up the lighting levels inside your establishment. Consider raising levels on the dance floor, in lounge areas, restrooms and entryways.
- Theft: Theft is one of the most reported incidents by patrons to nightlife establishments. Encourage patrons to check their coats and bags to prevent theft. Ensure that control and order are maintained in the coat check area at all times, especially at closing. Keep records of thefts occurring in your club for your protection as well as the protection of your patrons.
- Outdoor Monitoring: If your outdoor areas are a problem or you deal with repeated incidents outside your establishment, you might consider installing outdoor monitoring systems , extra lighting and posting signs clearly stating that patrons are being monitored in those areas.
- Parking Lots: If you have a parking lot, you are liable for this space and it is considered your premises. Your parking lot should be monitored by personnel or by CCTV at all times when your patrons may be present. Be sure sufficient lighting is in place to assist security in monitoring these areas. In particular, it is essential to monitor parking areas to prevent patrons from drinking in or around vehicles prior to entry or re-entry.
- Conflict Management: Clear policies and training on conflict management are imperative to your security plan. Institute an “Ask. Tell. Make.” Policy, (Ask them to correct the behavior; Tell them to correct the behavior; Make them comply) and be sure it is enforced consistently. If patrons refuse to comply or become combative, staff should immediately call for SPD. Calls for SPD assistance made in good faith and for the protection of patrons and neighbors alike, will not be counted against the establishment. Likewise, if you fail to call 911 to report a public safety incident you may be liable for that failure.
- Major Events: Invest in your patrons’ safety; hire additional outside security when you plan major events involving larger than normal crowds. Also, report large scale events to SPD ahead of time and/or request more frequent patrols if you anticipate the need for increased crowd control outside your establishment.
- SPD Trespass Agreement: You can request that SPD remove any problem offenders from your premises if you maintain a signed Trespass Agreement with the Seattle Police. This allows criminal charges to be filed if they return and are reported by you.
- SPD Relations: Meet with SPD Precinct representatives as often as necessary to discuss operational issues, solutions to common problems, neighborhood trends, security concerns, etc.
- Patron Removal Records: When at all possible, keep a record of patrons who are removed from your establishment, with photographs if possible.
Post-Incident Law Enforcement Interaction
- Crime Scene Evidence: Safeguard any evidence that may be connected to criminal activity, and maintain the integrity of any crime scene. It is a crime in itself to destroy evidence, or to interfere with the investigation of a crime.
- Court / Detective Contact: Cooperate fully with any investigations taking place in or relative to your establishment. When incidents occur, be sure your staff is instructed to cooperate with investigations. It is a condition of your WSLCB Liquor License that you cooperate with any law enforcement investigatory request.
- Security Video: Audio, video or photos of any unlawful conduct should be identified and provided to law enforcement when requested.
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