Club Crackdown

Ongoing discussions regarding nightlife regulations reached a boiling point during a recent Seattle City Council meeting, where some bar and nightclub owners claimed proposed measures could kill their business.

At the core of the debate was a four-part proposal by councilmembers Jan Drago and Sally J. Clark that would create new regulations for the industry.

First, the proposal would create a new licensing requirement for Seattle nightlife establishments. It would also establish an enforcement unit to issue fines and respond to complaints, and the city’s noise and nuisance ordinances would be strengthened. Finally, a nightlife review board would be formed to mediate disputes, hear appeals of penalties, and assess and advise on the subject.

Those that violate the new regulations could face suspension or revocation of their licenses, and penalties for noise violations of up to $6,000.

At the council meeting, some business owners said the proposed regulations are a step in the wrong direction, and that the problem lies with the lack of adequate policing, the West Seattle Herald reported.

Matthew Darling, the owner of café and club Skylark, said he didn’t understand why a new provision would require business owners to patrol 50 feet around the premises of their establishments for at least 30 minutes after closing time when his club has never had any problems with drugs or violence.

"That’s my responsibility," Darling said. "Policing an entire block of residences and businesses shouldn’t be."

Tim Hatley, a lobbyist hired by the city’s Nightlife and Music Association, told the Herald the council isn’t taking into consideration the economic impact the new proposals could have on the music and nightlife industries.

Clubs and taverns are reportedly some of the biggest employers in the city, and produce the most revenue among the music sector.

Councilmember Clark said the city must continue to work to find a solution that will meet the needs of all parties.

"A great club scene is important – as evidenced by the thousands of people who make it a regular part of their lives in the Seattle area," Clark said in a statement. "At the same time we cannot lose sight of the fact that public safety is the city’s paramount duty. In addition, we got an earful from people in every part of the city about noise."

The council is expected to vote on the proposal June 21st.