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Belltown’s New A-hole Tax

The Seattle City Council today unanimously agreed that a real solution to nightlight crime is generally unattainable and instead gleefully imposed a new “tax” for acting like a drunken jerk downtown. Without a doubt, this is the solution we have all been looking for! The absolutely insurmountable fee of ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS will serve to ensure civil obedience and calm the drunken masses.

What a misguided publicity stunt…

The Seattle City Council today unanimously passed what some have called the “meat-head ordinance,” which will allow Seattle Police officers to give $100 tickets for after-hours disturbances in Seattle’s nightlife districts.

Licata said, “This bill passed because groups on all sides of this issue were willing to make compromises. The new law should address most of the behavioral problems police encounter when crowds leave the bars. It provides them with a preventive alternative to address unruly bar patrons on the sidewalks.”

The law allows Seattle police officers to give $100 citations between midnight and 5 a.m. in public areas for fighting, threatening another person, or making unreasonable noise. The ordinance applies in Downtown Seattle, Belltown, and other business districts throughout Seattle


6 Comments on "Belltown’s New A-hole Tax"

  1. Rohan Singh | August 2, 2010 at 5:22 pm |

    I’m skeptical about how the noise portion of this ordinance could ever be enforced in a way that wouldn’t cause due process challenges. For example, officers have taken to using measuring tapes and decibel meters so that normal noise ordinance citations can stand up in court. That works since the target of a noise citation is a house or other building.

    But how do you provide any level of evidence like that against a single person, who may be surrounded by other noisy people? If I happen to walk through a noisy crowd at an intersection at 1 AM, should I now be worried about getting a $100 ticket? This seems to create more of a mess than it solves.

  2. Though, if it works, I am happy to have another deterrent from the bridge, ferry and kids from the south that come here and have no respect for our community. I cannot tell you how many nights I have woken up to drunk girl and her boyfriend screaming and fighting about some girl he looked at the wrong way or some boy she danced with, etc, right outside of Copper Cart, under my balcony on a Tuesday at 1:30am. This happens 2-3 times a night, always the same story, always different people.

    I am curious though, where does this money go? Can it go to hiring more police officers for the Downtown/Belltown areas?

    I know another way the city can earn thousands of dollars on a weekend… Stand in my alley and write tickets for public urination. If you stand on my balcony from 1:45am-2:15am, you will see probably 17-20 dudes taking a piss behind a garbage can, in the alcove, etc. If each one received a ticket of $100, bam, almost $2000 in just 30 minutes per evening.

  3. Um, Rohan, due-process challenges? Do you work for the ACLU? Nobody is going to get a ticket for walking through a busy intersection, the noise ordinance is likely going to target the idiots who sit in their cars in the parking lot at 1st and Bell and play their music at ridiculous volume until 4 AM… As for where the money goes, can I suggest it being used to demolish the Copper Cart and replace it with a Russian-built nuclear reactor, an explosives-testing facility, or a germ warfare lab, you know, anything safer for the community than that current gang-infested hell-hole. We can probably pay for any viaduct replacement plan by stationing officers in front of Copper Cart, Venom, and the Belltown Billiards-to-Ohana corridor, throw in a few by Amber and Twist and we’d be able to buy every resident of Seattle his or her own light rail train…

  4. It seems like every single solution that the council passes has to do with giving people tickets.

    The problem isn’t the fact that there aren’t laws.

    The problem IS the fact that there aren’t enough police to enforce them.

    There are PLENTY of laws already on the books, there just aren’t enough boots on the ground to do anything about it. This measure is just a distraction that the council would like to you pay attention to come election season. It’s a joke and will do nothing in terms of preventing crime or solving the problem.

  5. Jesse, I agree that we need appropriate police staffing levels, but we have a multidimensional problem that policing alone cannot solve:

    – Too many liquor establishments in too small an area catering to a narrow demographic of young binge drinkers who drive in from out of the area.

    – A handful of uncool club owners who don’t care about the impact they have on the community (amid a larger group of responsible club and restaurant owners), aided by their friends on the liquor control board.

    – Building owners who lease to problematic clubs, trying to stay afloat while commercial tenants flee to Capitol Hill, SLU and Ballard.

    – Apathetic homeowners and renters who post snarky comments on message boards but have never been to city hall or a community meeting.

    – All of this in a dense cluster of social services for addicted, homeless and mentally ill people.

    Looking long, I think the people of Belltown need to do what Capitol Hill has done: organize and get involved to change our destiny. As community members, we *already have* power and influence, we just need to use it. Let’s form creative partnerships between building owners, businesses and residents. Invite architects and artists and entrepreneurs to generate ideas. Learn from other cities who have solved similar problems.

    So yeah, more policing is good. Enforcement is good. Flexible closing hours, maybe good. But let’s work hardest on the front-end of the problem.

  6. If the bars in Belltown helped out with getting people off the streets when they close (like Venom has security go out with flash lights and tell people to move it along) we wouldn’t need more laws to curb these stupied a**hole alcholics from doing things that are stupied and ignorant after hours. But noooooo, they are too busy counting the money they made. None of these bars in Belltown give a rats a** about the neighborhood (especially Tia Lous-the owner of that place sneaks around to put up an outside deck without getting a permit-but got caught-hahaha you dumb a**). Maybe if the bars did care we would not have so many problems with the drunks breaking the laws we have. I’m all for anything that teaches these drunks some manners otherwise they should stay in their own neighborhood and destroy it if they haven’t already.

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