Closing Time to Change?
Assembly proposes legislation that would allow bars to stay open until 5 a.m.
ANCHORAGE - In an effort to make Downtown Anchorage safer at night, Anchorage Assemblyman Dick Traini proposed Ordinance 42, which would allow bars to stay open until 5 a.m.
Under this ordinance, bars would have last call at the same time they do now, but patrons would have more time to leave. That means they could leave in smaller groups.
Traini said when the doors close, a big crowd isn't good for anyone. "Push hundreds of people out the door, and that just doesn't work well for anybody. Doesn't work for the people that live down there."
Jess Hepper, a Platinum Jaxx owner, said allowing patrons to leave gradually could make the exit more peaceful. "It allows people to, if there is a problem, to come back in the building where previously was actually illegal for us to allow anybody to come back inside the building after 3 a.m."
Assembly members worked with Alaska Cabaret Hotel Restaurant and Retailers Association, or CHARR, to write the legislation. "It's allowing for that safety hour for there to get more cab service, allow people to not have to wait outside in the cold in the middle of winter." Hepper said.
The ordinance would apply citywide, though smaller establishments, like Humpy's, say it won't make a big difference to them. Humpy’s General Manager Pete Burns said, "After about 11:30 or 12 we don't have the clientele that a lot of the nightclubs [have], to where this [ordinance] is more tailored to are having larger crowds."
Bar owners would have to apply to be part of the program. Not every alcohol-serving establishment would automatically be allowed to stay open later.
Pending how upcoming labor discussions go, the measure could come before the Anchorage Assembly in two weeks.
No matter the size of the establishment, bar owners and city officials hope this program will make Anchorage streets safer at closing time.