Mayor McGinn Lays Out Seattle Nightlife Initiative at Press Conference

L to R: Hunter Gatherer Lodge proprietor Marcus Lalario, Mayor Mike McGinn, and Jeff Steichen, General Manager of Showbox at the Market and Showbox SODO

Last night at the Century Ballroom on Capitol Hill, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, Councilmember Nick Licata, and the Office of Film and Music unveiled the Seattle Nightlife Initiative, the entirety of which can be downloaded on the Mayor's website over here.

The 8-point initiative outlines an agenda for improving safety for club patrons and employees (by requiring mandatory training by the Seattle Police Department as part of the state's Nightclub Liquor License approval and renewal process), as well as ways to preemptively work with communities surrounding nightclubs to resolve noise complaint and nuisance issues. The latter involves what the initiative describes as a streamlined approach to the enforcement of the noise ordinance. Considering much of what was a concern with the previous approaches to enforcement was a lack of clarity and a seemingly random approach to targeting clubs, I found it reassuring the initiative recommends a complaint-based system (i.e., it has to come from a neighbor, not an officer), and that fines can only be issued after one warning, AND only after a dBC level of 80 is measured inside the complaining residence with the windows and doors shut.

The other 5 points in the initiative include the potentially exciting (and controversial) introduction of flexible liquor service hours (via a proposed pilot program to theoretically launch this fall), the welcome expansion of safe, late night transportation options, and the development of an interdepartmental Code Compliance Team to coordinate enforcement across city, county and state agencies. I have heard some club owners voice valid concerns about the transparency of such an agency, but as long as the level of dialog between the Mayor's Office and the music community continues to flow as well as it has of late, I feel refreshingly optimistic about what was put forth. Again, it's a lot of information, and much more than should be analyzed in an overnight blog post, but you can read the entire initiative over here, and eventually watch the press conference itself via the Seattle Channel's website (I'll post a link when this becomes available).

Afterwards, McGinn stopped by the Hunter Gatherer Lodge down the street, to mingle on the club's sunny deck with other key local music community leaders, including Showbox General Manager Jeff Steichen, Sportin' Life baroness Jennifer Petersen, Obese Productions owner Meli Darby, and HG Lodge proprietor Marcus Lalario. Much remains to be seen on how the new administration will impact (and hopefully improve) relations between the music and nightlife community and the Mayor's Office, but seeing him on such a down-to-earth and accessible level is a positive sign in my book.

The Mayor, the City Council and City Attorney will all solicit public feedback on the plan from now until September 15. For more info, visit their website.

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