Politics Help Nightlife in Seattle

Does getting involved in local politics matter to you as a nightclub operator? Well maybe it should. In Seattle, Mayor Mike McGinn, who won the election due, in part, to backing from nightlife supporters last fall, is standing up for the nightclub and bar community by proposing staggered closing times beyond 2 a.m. for nightlife venues, among other issues. Last fall, McGinn ran on a pro-nightlife platform, which included issues such as increasing late-night patrols in hot spots and easing the tension between residents and nightlife management.

Last week, McGinn introduced his proposal at a press conference. The pro-nightlife initiative is comprised of staggered closing times plus stricter code enforcement, required training for bar security, meetings between nightlife businesses and their neighbors, an ordinance on noise-reduction, professional development for bar employees, more late-night transportation options and public-nuisance rules to assist police. You can read the full report here.

McGinn says the staggered closing times will help ease public safety issues. “Having hundreds of people on the street at 2 a.m. is not conducive to a peaceful community,” he says, according to The Seattle Times.

This idea is not McGinn’s, however. In fact, members of the Seattle Nightlife and Music Association pitched the idea to the Washington State Liquor Control Board six months ago, The Seattle Times reports. Members of the association developed strong ties with McGinn prior to his election and now meet with him on a regular basis.

Many in the area feel his connection to industry insiders is a bit too close for comfort, but nightlife operators say McGinn is a politician finally listening to the needs of the industry — an industry that has a strong economic impact on the city.

The staggered closing time initiative is far from a done deal — McGinn still intends to meet with neighborhood groups and community councils, and members of the state liquor control board told The Seattle Times they’ll need to see strong evidence supporting the new hours before changing state rules. But the introduction of the initiative just proves that sometimes politics really do extend the voice of the people. It also proves that nightlife operators who are proactive about working with government and voice their concerns effectively to politicians – rather than just complaining to one another – can make good things happen for their businesses.

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