Just my thoughts on things I think about. Music, politics, society, and unfortunately, religion.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

City Crackdown on Clubs

Last night Neumo's was packed with people from the music community out to hear what City Council candidates have to say about the music community. One of the questions asked was about issues with urban density and noise. They all said they supported a vibrant music and club scene and that people who move downtown need to deal with that. But a conflict is arising in a City where the Mayor is supporting the music community, says he wants Seattle to be a 24 Hour City, but also wants a lot of residents living downtown in the same areas that have been the hotbed of music and nightlife for decades. And the City is choosing to come down on clubs, not developers or residents, so we have a preview of where this conflict might head. A mixed message for sure.

To deal with this The Mayor has a PLAN. The plan calls for a team of city employees to spend every Friday and Saturday night between early July and September inspecting the more than 80 nightclubs downtown. But no similar checks on developers noise insulation and building to code. And no police crackdown on the actual drug and violent crimes happening on the street corners of Belltown and Pioneer Square.

Instead, The City has created a Joint Assessment Team, which will also include firefighters making sure clubs are meeting safety codes and city revenue and consumer affairs inspectors checking business licenses and whether clubs are paying the admission tax.

At times, they will be joined by Liquor Control Board agents, inspectors with Public Health -- Seattle & King County and the city's Department of Transportation, looking for crowded sidewalks or blocked roadways.

According to an article in today's PI (http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/230713_nightclubs30.html) the City says "We're not out there to shut people down or find violations," .... "But we need to get a better handle on what actually is going on." Some of these ideas they are taking from cities like Sacramento, LA and Giuliani's New York. In those cities they have been adapting Sidranesque civility rules concerning nightlife. We need to be sure that does not happen in Seattle!

Having been in the business for many years, I have yet to be in a club where the Police, Fire, Liquor or Health boards show up to just see what is going on. They are looking for violations. Not to be too cynical, but the music community needs to watch this with an eye to protecting ourselves. This could be a good pro-active plan by the City to take out the bad clubs who have not been regulating themselves, or it could be another attempt by the City to harass a now thriving music community as has happened in the past. Let's give Mayor Nickels the benefit of the doubt - he has been excellent on music issues so far, working to get rid of the Teen Dance Ordinance, creating a rational noise ordinance, opening the Music Office, working with the music community to come up with decent liquor rules protecting all ages shows, etc.

But let's also remember that the City Attorney who worked on this plan also took a strong anti-postering position in the court of appeals (but who also supports all ages shows), and the Police who are leading this secretly fought behind the scenes to support the Teen Dance Ordinance and kill all ages shows by lobbying the Liquor Board to change rules that would make them it impossible to do mixed use shows and who don't arrest the crack and heroin dealers in the streets. And let's not forget that until the last few years The City of Seattle was pro-actively ANTI-MUSIC, shutting down the music scene every time it has started to be successful here as far back as the 1930's Jazz scene. This is the next battle line between the Police who are driving this and the music community. We need to make sure the Council and Mayor temper this with some pro-music politicking. Let's make sure the City does not go back to it's evil Anti-Music ways.

So please everyone, write to the Mayor and City Council and let them know you are paying attention and that you support music and a vibrant nightlife downtown. They need to hear from you!

Write to them asap at

Greg Nickels (Mayors.Office@seattle.gov); Jan Drago (jan.drago@cseattle.gov); Richard Conlin (Richard.Conlin@seattle.gov); Richard McIver (richard.mciver@seatle.gov); Jim Compton (jim.compton@seattle.gov); Peter Steinbrueck (peter.steinbrueck@seattle.gov); Nick Licata (Nick.Licata@Seattle.gov); David Della (David.Della@Seattle.gov); Tom Rasmussen (tom.rasmussen@seattle.gov); Jean Godden (Jean.Godden@Seattle.gov)