Alternative Presented to Early Last Call Proposal for Downtown Bars
Industry wants establishments to stay open later, but take drinks away at 3 a.m.
ANCHORAGE - A proposal to limit the hours that downtown bars can serve alcohol will be up for public debate next week at the Anchorage Assembly. But the industry has a different plan they say will keep streets safer.
There’s no disagreement about the problem itself. Assemblyman Patrick Flynn said rowdy crowds cause trouble when the bars let out all at once.
“Something has to change,” said Flynn. “The current paradigm is unacceptable, people are getting hurt, property is getting damaged and behavior is frankly, terrible.
At an assembly work session on Friday members discussed Flynn’s proposal to make last call come earlier for some downtown bars. Flynn said the idea is that people could take their time drinking up and leave at a more leisurely rate.
But bar owners don’t like the idea of less time to sell alcohol. They have a plan to let bars stay open later but keep last call the same, and, when 3 a.m. rolls around, take people’s drinks away. Jess Hepper, owner of Platinum Jaxx, said he thinks the proposal would work.
“Once it is known that at 3 o’clock those drinks must be finished, I think the public in general will adapt," said Hepper. “They’ll know it’s got to be done before that or they are going to take it away.”
Police Chief Mark Mew said he thinks it’s possible the plan would work if the industry is willing to take alcohol away well before closing time.
“I think the police department would be much more confident in an experiment of this kind if the bars were willing to clear those drinks off the table,” said Mew. “If people were going to sit there for a while and sober up and drink coffee and have breakfast or whatever and that slowed the pace of the trickle onto the street, I think it's probably worth looking at.”
Mew said more discussion will be needed but he does see a positive side.
“I sense that all the different parties are a little closer to alignment than they have been in the past ,” said Mew.
The public hearing on the assembly proposal to limit alcohol sales at downtown bars will be held on Tuesday. Members said they have more information to consider and it’s unlikely they will vote on the ordinance at that time.