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D.C. Council Member Aims to Amend Bar Hours

A D.C. Council member filed formal notice today that he intends to propose a new emergency law that would alter the terms of the council's legislation that extended the hours of operation for bars and nightclubs during inauguration week.

Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) was among the 9-4 majority that last week approved the bill that allows bars, nightclubs and restaurants to serve alcohol until 5 a.m. — several hours later than normal — and stay open all night from Jan. 17-21.

But Wells, in consultation with his colleagues, is crafting a revised bill that would roll back some of the new rules and set tougher restrictions on the nightlife establishments, his chief of staff Charles Allen said today. Wells filed notice in the D.C. registry to offer his emergency bill at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Among the changes being considered, according to Allen:

* Rolling back alcohol service from 5 a.m. to 4 a.m., the same as New Year’s Eve;
* Potentially excluding Sunday, Jan. 18, from the extended hours;
* Creating a registration date and nominal fee for establishments interested in staying open later.That would give police a list of places to monitor and force owners to make a decision before inauguration week begins.

“There’s a lot on the table,” Allen said. “We haven’t finalized the language. The council member is speaking to colleagues.”

Also, council members said they did not intend for last week’s legislation to over-ride the “voluntary agreements” many bar and nightclub owners have signed with neighborhood groups. Those agreements often set strict limits on such things as operating hours and live music.

The voluntary agreements are likely to remain enforceable, said Doxie McCoy, a spokeswoman for council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D).

The legislation was the idea of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, which brought it to the council. With more than 1 million people expected to come to Washington for inauguration week, restaurant, bar and nightclub owners stand to make healthy profits.

But this week, Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Bob Bennett, who are on the committee that is planning President-elect Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony, sent a letter to Gray and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) objecting to the extended hours over concerns about public safety. The Downtown Cluster of Congregations, a non-profit ecumenical group, also has objected.

Today, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance W. Gainer, who is involved in security planning for the inauguration, said it was "crazy" to allow bars to stay open until 5 a.m.
"There’s not much redeeming social value to be out drinking at 5 in the morning," said Gainer, former chief of the Capitol Police. "It creates more problems."

Fenty, who had been opposed to including nightclubs in the bill, has pledged to sign the legislation into law, saying it was the council’s prerogative.

By David A Nakamura  |  December 11, 2008; 3:44 PM ET  | Category:  Entertainment , Food & Dining , Security
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Comments



Cowards. Stand up to Congress and stand up for your constituents.

Posted by: AngryLiberal | December 11, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

This is a good start...but the entire legislation should be thrown out. I have been a resident of DC for many years. And I am not opposed to drinking. BUT I don't know anyone who wants to stay out until 4am drinking. The entire world will be watching us during the inauguration celebration. Do we want them to see a bunch of rowdy drunks? I don't. Let's not cash in on a great moment in the history of this country. Please.

Posted by: mysammy | December 11, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

"BUT I don't know anyone who wants to stay out until 4am drinking. "

Who gives a damn who you know? When did the activities of the people you know form the basis of law? If noone wants to stay ou tuntil 4AM drinking, then the bars will respond and close when the last customer leaves.

Posted by: nathanmboggs | December 11, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

What a stupid waste of time and effort. What is DC doing with its homeless population? Its crime problem? It's crummy metro system? Oh, right, those aren't as important as letting a bunch of visitors drink until 5am for 5 days in row.

Posted by: hacksaw | December 11, 2008 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Bob Bennett--the prince of hypocrisy, okay for him to "sin" because he can "control himself." Who else but the pious losers of Youtah would elect such a pathetic liar?

Di Fi--fancies herself the "voice of reason" in California politics. Unfortunately, she is a rich and dried up old biddy completely out of touch with anyone not a multimillionare white.

Not that it really matters, but regardless of the Hope that Obama has attemped to objectify, it is obvious that the Repugs are going to take everyone down with them. For this reason, I would recommend getting as plowed as possible and paying a personal call on your oppressors.

Posted by: lambcannon | December 11, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Dear Mayor Fenty:

Please tell the US Congress to go to hell. The city is going to desperately need those extra tax receipts, when the rest of their tax revenue base gets clobbered in 2009 due to our disintegrating economy.

Most of the DC residents doing the complaining are a bunch of wealthy sops, who aren't going to desperately need the services provided by the city.

Posted by: awesom0 | December 11, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

In this economy, when the travel and tourism industry is suffering - especially bar/restaurant owners - why is it that we are not rallying behind supporting this extension?

This is unprecedented and there will be MILLIONS of people coming into our area. Not only will it ensure that local establishments can make HUGE profits that may carry them through tough times, but imagine how long it's going to take EVERYWHERE to simply get a table! The extended hours are needed for both reasons.

Have we really become a society where we can't adjust our lifestyles for a matter of 4 days to help an entire industry during a hard economic crisis? (Yet isn't it funny that we expect that entire industry to bow and bend to us by tailoring what they can do 365 days a year).

We are such a selfish people.

Posted by: rkcolbert | December 11, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Cowards. Stand up to Congress and stand up for your constituents.

Posted by: AngryLiberal | December 11, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse
******************************
No kidding. These things make me so angry (and I am not a district resident!)

Posted by: suzannepdc | December 11, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

What a stupid waste of time and effort. What is DC doing with its homeless population? Its crime problem? It's crummy metro system? Oh, right, those aren't as important as letting a bunch of visitors drink until 5am for 5 days in row.

More useless rants for the idiot crew.

Posted by: askgees | December 11, 2008 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Dear Mayor Fenty:

Please tell the US Congress to go to hell. The city is going to desperately need those extra tax receipts, when the rest of their tax revenue base gets clobbered in 2009 due to our disintegrating economy.

Most of the DC residents doing the complaining are a bunch of wealthy sops, who aren't going to desperately need the services provided by the city.


I guess you really have no idea who is in charge of you're city do you? Congrees that's who. Fenty is what you refer to as a token. I really hope you don't think the city could actually save the tax earned fro the 10 extra hours the bars wou;d be open for 2009 do you????

Posted by: askgees | December 11, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Can we finally start to see what our elected officials are? they are a bunch of cowardly opportunist serving their self interest above and beyond anything else.

Sadly, they see an opportunity to capitalize then hear a little rumblings of people that simply commute to DC for work and they choke up and get nervous. today it's bars, tomorrow it's schools, next week it's anything else in DC Government.

I could care less about the bars staying open, especially until 5 AM. My issue is the council does a knee jerk reaction, and then thinks about it! that's a failure of governance. why did they not plan this out, look at the various impacts. what really happened was a number of bars in their districts called with a great idea on staying open and making lots of money with the 4 million folks coming to town, and they jumped on it.

Posted by: oknow1 | December 11, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

In this economy, when the travel and tourism industry is suffering - especially bar/restaurant owners - why is it that we are not rallying behind supporting this extension?

This is unprecedented and there will be MILLIONS of people coming into our area. Not only will it ensure that local establishments can make HUGE profits that may carry them through tough times, but imagine how long it's going to take EVERYWHERE to simply get a table! The extended hours are needed for both reasons.

Have we really become a society where we can't adjust our lifestyles for a matter of 4 days to help an entire industry during a hard economic crisis? (Yet isn't it funny that we expect that entire industry to bow and bend to us by tailoring what they can do 365 days a year).

We are such a selfish people.


Well said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: askgees | December 11, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

askgees: Go troll somewhere else.

Posted by: awesom0 | December 11, 2008 5:51 PM | Report abuse

The extension should be allowed to stand. I live on U St. near a great number of these bars and you know, I'm personally more than willing to put up with the extended hours because they'll help local businesses make some money in a time when tourism dollars will be down. People need to stop being so selfish and realize that this is only a four day extension of hours here and helping this industry is important to all of us who are district residents. I'm sick of Congress getting involved in local matters. I'm also upset at the supposed neighborhood advisory councils that are supposed to be standing up for our neighborhoods being 100% in the pocket of a holier than thou crowd who is more concerned about whether these extended hours will effect their sleep than whether they could help out our local economy. You folks decided to live in an area populated with nightlife -- deal with it, I do.

Posted by: rawk | December 11, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

If McCain had won then this issue wouldn't even be on the table. No way would the DC want to allow people to party all night for a Republican.

Hypocrites.

Posted by: Efffyew2 | December 11, 2008 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Either this country stands for freedom, or it doesn't.

Freedom means government doesn't decide your bedtime. Freedom means taking responsibility for yourself.

Americans can handle freedom just fine, thanks.

Posted by: DupontJay | December 11, 2008 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Efffyew2: Are you kidding!? If McCain had won, this wouldn't be an issue because the city wouldn't have at least a million people coming to town. It would have been a sizeable crowd like for other inaugurations, but not like this one.

Besides, we already have what Republicans need late at night: 24 hour CVS locations with Ben Gay and Milk of Magnesia available anytime.

Posted by: TracyDC | December 11, 2008 8:59 PM | Report abuse

But they might consider excluding Sunday for extended hours? Do they have to invoke religion into all of their decisions? It's governmental and political, not religious. Church-state separation needs some support here.

Posted by: kirk2 | December 11, 2008 9:10 PM | Report abuse

While Feinstein and Bennett are worrying about bar hours, security plans for the inauguration are not yet in place. Nor are plans to help Metro accommodate visitors. Nor are plans to evacuate millions of people if something bad occurs.

Posted by: Gatsby1 | December 12, 2008 1:10 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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