The City Council today passed the first pieces of its multi-part package of legislation to maintain safe, exciting Seattle nightlife while managing issues of concern to surrounding neighborhoods. Councilmember Sally Clark, chair of the Economic Development and Neighborhoods Committee, said, "This package was informed by months of deliberation and public input. It will genuinely balance neighborhood quality-of-life issues and our need for an exciting, successful Seattle nightlife scene." Councilmember Jan Drago said, "This package will help downtown residents and nightclubs live together."
The legislation passed today includes:
1) Direction to the mayor to staff a new nightlife enforcement unit that could issue fines and respond to neighborhood resident complaints in the evenings;
2) Strengthening of the city's existing nuisance code to allow for abatement proceedings if a nightclub violates occupancy standards three times within a year;
3) A new requirement that nightclubs write safety plans; and
4) Legislation requesting that the mayor's staff research and report back to Council with recommendations concerning club security staff training, zoning, promoter licensing and new enforcement authority held by the Washington State Liquor Control Board.
In September, the Council will decide whether or not to add a new licensing requirement to its nightlife package; whether to "smarten" Seattle's noise ordinance; and whether to create a Nightlife Advisory Board to advise how to keep Seattle a great place for nightlife; and help mediate disputes between neighbors and nightlife establishments.
Over the past eight months, the councilmembers have held a series of public discussions to understand the benefits and problems associated with Seattle's nightlife. That deliberation has allowed the Council to develop a more comprehensive package than was originally under consideration.
"The input of the hundreds of Seattleites who took the time to contact us has resulted in a package that keeps public safety as the city's paramount duty while supporting Seattle's nightlife," said Councilmember Clark. "It doesn't matter who arrived in a neighborhood first — urban residents or nightclubs. Today's reality is that neighbors and nightclubs have to learn how to coexist peacefully."
The Economic Development and Neighborhoods Committee will take public comment and possibly vote on a license for nightclubs at its Thursday, Aug. 16, meeting at the Highpoint Community Center, 6920 34th Ave. S.W. The meeting starts at 6 p.m.