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City of Seattle
Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: Nickels sends nightlife premises legislation to Council

11/29/2006  10:30:00 PM

Nickels sends nightlife premises legislation to Council
Proposal provides clarity for neighbors
and owners of nightlife premises

SEATTLE - Mayor Greg Nickels sent legislation to the City Council today that aims to protect and promote the city’s growing urban neighborhoods by improving public safety at nightclubs and addressing concerns about noise and litter on the streets.

The proposal balances efforts to encourage a safe, vibrant nighttime entertainment industry with the needs of residents and other businesses for clarity and certainty that issues impacting neighborhoods will be addressed.

“As Seattle grows, it’s important that we find ways of building neighborhoods that are great places to live and work, as well as great places to enjoy nightlife,” Nickels said. “The legislation I’m sending to the City Council strikes the right balance between keeping our neighborhoods safe while helping our city’s nightlife to thrive.”

The legislation provides a means for improving communication and resolving disputes between clubs and neighboring businesses and residents. It also provides resources to help nightclubs improve businesses practices and resolve regulatory issues.

In October 2005, Nickels formed the Nightlife Task Force to advise him on coordinating, planning and regulating nightclubs in the city. The task force is composed of club owners, neighborhood business owners and residents. The proposal reflects the significant contributions of the task force.

The effort was spurred by several high-profile incidents that raised concerns about public safety in and around some of the city’s popular nightspots. The city has worked with the Washington State Liquor Board to suspend the license of two clubs following violent incidents over the past year.

“I believe the nightlife premises ordinance is a much-needed first step in addressing the nightlife related problems that many Seattle neighborhoods have increasingly faced in recent years. With proper enforcement, this ordinance will ensure the public safety and quality of life in our communities, while maintaining and encouraging a vibrant nightlife in our city,” said Vafa Ghazi, task force member and Fremont Neighborhood Council president.

The mayor’s proposed legislation provides certainty and clarity to neighbors and nightclub and bar owners. It focuses the nightlife premises definition to get at the problems most people have been concerned about. Under the mayor’s proposal, the city will now codify a regulatory system developed with the advice of residents and nightclub and bar owners:

• Clubs that serve alcohol after 10 p.m. and have high occupancy levels are affected.
• Clubs must adhere to their occupancy limits. Overcrowding is a significant public safety hazard.
• Clubs must limit amplified noise levels.
• Clubs are responsible for litter within 50 feet around the club after closing.
• Nightlife premises must return complaint calls within 24 hours.
• Penalties range from fines to suspensions, depending on the gravity of the offense.
• A seven-member Nightlife Premises Advisory Board will be appointed to work with clubs, neighbors and the city on club issues.

The new nightlife premises regulations, coupled with the work of Seattle’s Joint Assessment Team, which makes sure premises are up to code, and stepped up tracking of city code and liquor license violations, should help ensure that Seattle’s growing number of clubs and bars are safe, vibrant places to have fun without undue impacts on Seattle’s neighborhoods.

Read the Fact Sheet - Acrobat PDF 24kb

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