Board votes down Seattle's late bar hours

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by KING 5 News, Associated Press

KING5.com

Posted on May 30, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 29 at 9:26 PM

Poll:
Do you favor bars staying open as late as 6:00 a.m.?

Washington's Liquor Control Board voted 2-1 Wednesday against allowing Seattle to permit bars to serve alcohol past 2:00 a.m.

Board Chair Sharon Foster and board member Ruthann Kurose voted against the city's proposal. The only supporting vote came from board member Chris Marr, a former state senator from Spokane.

Foster voiced concerns about public safety and the burden neighboring cities would bear as a result of Seattle's late closing times. Marr said voting down the proposal represents "a huge opportunity lost."

Keeping bars open as late as 6:00 a.m. was a part of Mayor Mike McGinn's Seattle Nightlife Initiative, which also addresses transportation options, noise and public nuisances. Click here to read the Seattle Nightlife Initiative

Seattle Police stood with McGinn in favoring the proposal, citing it would stagger crowds that flood out of bars at 2:00 a.m., making the streets more manageable. Critics disagreed, saying crime and mischief would increase with drunken behavior.

"The city does want to look at the the option of extending bar hours. It doesn't mean we're going to, but we need to have the ability to apply," Assistant Seattle Police Chief Paul McDonagh said in an interview on KING 5 Morning News Wednesday before the vote was held.

Seattle business owners agreed extended hours would help increase profits. But with people coming from out of town for a late drink, skeptics said intoxicated drivers would put others at risk on the road.

Washington's Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs came out against the proposal, arguing suburbs and neighboring cities will also experience problems.

Leading up to Wednesday's vote, the Liquor Control Board held four hearings around the state and heard objections from other cities. In addition, public comment was extended for a month to collect more feedback.

KING 5's Drew Mikkelsen, Lindsay Chamberlain, Natasha Ryan, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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