Seattle’s Nightlife Finds Growing SupportOctober 1, 2009 By: Bryan Bass
Recently, we covered the growing groundswell of support in Seattle for political candidates who are supportive of nightlife and bar venues and their operators, which came just a few scant weeks after New York City’s own Nightlife Preservation Community gave a supportive push to nightlife-friendly candidates. It appears as though politicians have opened their eyes to the reality that the nightclub and bar crowd has some political clout after all.
Meanwhile, back in the Pacific Northwest, mayoral candidate Steve McGinn released a new position paper outlining a potential about-face for the Emerald City in terms of its support of nightlife and entertainment venues. Current mayor Greg Nickels and city attorney Tom Carr have long been a spur in the boot of operators. They actively pushed anti-nightlife legislation, peaking with Nickels’ 2006 proposal that would have forced operators to apply for special licenses and prevent littering, violence and drug use in areas around their venues or be immediately closed by the city, and then Carr’s botched 2007 nightclub raids that resulted in dismissals for all arrested.
McGinn’s new platform is based on honoring existing venues and tweaking legislation to find a happy medium between the venues and the neighborhoods where they reside. McGinn noted that residential development “must not be able to drive out existing nightlife establishments,” in a statement addressing the irony of complaints from residents enjoying life in newly redeveloped areas. It’s a similar problem that the Nightlife Preservation Community is attempting to address in New York, where nightlife venues are making neighborhoods favorable to developers — Manhattan’s Meatpacking District and West Chelsea neighborhoods being prime examples — and are then getting pushed out or punished.
The remainder of McGinn’s platform seems a little strange for politicians these days, as it is rooted in common sense. He favors staggering closing times on venues to cut down on rowdiness and the potential for incidences when venues close and their occupants pour out into the streets. Additionally, he added that late-night patrols should be increased in “hot spot” neighborhoods, transportation choices should be available within those areas until at least 3 a.m. and any new developments built near existing bars or clubs should be required to build sound-proofing measures into their plans.
"Nightclubs, bars, pubs and other music venues — along with Seattle's many bands, DJs and entertainers — deserve a safe and supportive environment to earn their living,” McGinn said in a statement. “Similarly, residents living near music venues have the right to enjoy their homes in safety and peace." A fundraiser is planned for the end of the month for McGinn and local attorney Pete Holmes, who is challenging Carr in the race for city attorney.
It’s just another step toward politicizing nightlife and using the drawing power and reach of the venues to impact local government. With the Nightlife Preservation Community’s roots firmly planted on the East Coast and growing support starting to impact elections on the West Coast, the voices of the club-goers and owners are growing more powerful by the day!