People of Northwest Public Radio
Bar Hours Extension Denied
Wed May 30, 2012
Wash. Liquor Board Rejects Seattle's Extended Hours Request
The Washington State Liquor Control Board has turned down Seattle’s request to set its own hours for bars and nightclubs.
All bars and nightclubs in Washington state must stop serving liquor by 2 a.m. Seattle officials including police chief John Diaz, had supported allowing extended hours. They said staggered closing times would work better for police.
But Liquor Control Board chair Sharon Foster said she believed extended hours would cause more public safety problems. And she said neighboring cities would feel the consequences as well.
Foster: “We heard this theme from citizens, law enforcement and city officials outside the city of Seattle, the concern ‘what happens when people migrate from neighboring cities to drive in and out of a city with extended hours or 24-hour alcohol service?’”
One board member disagreed. Chris Marr said the passage of Initiative 1183, which ended state liquor stores , shows “growing public support for expanded access to alcohol.”
Marr: “Our decision today represents an opportunity lost. And quite frankly I think it also begs the issue of what exactly is the role of this three-person board in the wake of I-1183. If it’s not to oversee a healthy, public dialogue on complex, contentious issues that deal with alcohol access, then exactly what is it?”
The timing of Seattle’s request may have also hurt its chances with the board. Chair Foster said she’s already concerned about the fivefold increase in liquor outlets due to Initiative 1183. This week state stores will cease operating and private stores will take over.
Copyright 2012 KUOW