Seattle City Attorney wants to stagger closing times for bars



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Posted on February 25, 2010 at 11:29 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 25 at 11:38 PM

SEATTLE - If 5 p.m. is happy hour, 2 a.m. is the witching hour. It's when most bars and nightclubs shut down, and their patrons spill onto the streets.

"They call it the push out," says Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. "And what you get is the hundreds and hundreds of people out on the street, and it overwhelms, it's noisy and really poses a strain on our public resources."

Mayor McGinn campaigned on this issue believing if certain bars were allowed to close past the state mandate of 2 a.m., it might make for a safer city.

Now City Attorney Pete Holmes is working on a proposal, which would be part of a larger piece of legislation on nightclub safety. He says, to avoid that mad rush of one closing time, the plan would be to stagger the closing times of Seattle bars and nightclubs.

Many bar owners support it, since they have the responsibility of watching out for overconsumption.

"For one we could sober up some people, if they're had a little too much to drink, they're not pushed out on the streets to drive their cars," says bar owner Mike Meckling.

But some residents who live in nightclub neighborhoods say the idea is hard to swallow.

"People don't sober up they keep drinking more. In fact it would be okay with me if they close at midnight," says Vickie Shanks, who lives on Seattle's Capitol Hill.

Holmes says this proposal is in its very early stages. No word tonight on whether the Washington State Liquor Control Board, which sets the 2 a.m. mandate, would even consider staggered closing times.