Hearing on Extending Bar Hours Until 3am/4am on Tuesday, April 17

Photo by PoPville flickr user pjcoleman

On March 23rd, we spoke about the possibility that bars may soon be able to stay open later. Council Member Jim Graham writes:

Dear Friends, I want to have maximum public comment on the recent budget proposal to extend the hours of service of alcohol in the bars from 2 AM to 3 AM, weekdays, and from 3 AM to 4 AM on weekends. This proposal will have significant impact on businesses and on the residents of our neighborhoods.

For that reason, I have set up a hearing just on this issue, scheduled to begin in the early evening so as to enable persons to voice their opinions on this.

I welcome public testimony at this hearing. I have requested, and expect to receive, a detailed impact statement from ABRA as part of the hearing.

Please contact Malcolm Cameron at (202) 724-8191 if you wish to sign up to testify. It is also very helpful if you bring 15 copies of your written testimony to the hearing. The Hearing will be held on Tuesday, April 17 at 5:00 p.m. in room 500 of the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW as part of the FY 13 Budget Oversight process.

35 Comment

  • I predict the usual barely-literate nimbys will show up and prove categorically that this one-hour extention is the tool of the devil (i.e., whitey).

  • Staying up until 3am is difficult enough as it is.

  • Elza, whether it’s 2, 3 or 4, it is not mandatory that you participate, either as owner or patron.
    Didn’t Graham already have a hearing on this? What, he feels like he didn’t do an adequate job getting the whiners out to testify??

    New residents unite! Show up and tell Graham to keep his hands off of our developing 24 hour city.

    • Completely agree! Anyone who cares about the noise, trash, drunk people slamming car doors and blasting radios, etc. at 3:00am on a Tuesday should be slapped. Just because residents live in the area does not mean they should be heard.

    • Haha, I was joking. My automatic reaction was, ugh! Now I’m going to get peer pressured into having to stay up even later! I like my sleep!

      But yeah I have zero issues with this proposal. Bring on the red bull.

    • Your city? Hardly.

      “Just because residents live in the area does not mean they should be heard.”

      Yea, actually, it does. The same way it does for schools and roads and bike lanes and everything. The residents opinions are important – they should not be the only factor, but they sure as hell should be A factor.

      Maybe when ya’ll get to be out of your 20’s – you might care about being woken up at 3:30 am on a Tuesday when you have to work at 8 am. I doubt it.. compassion and cooperation seem to be 20th century concepts.

  • I really don’t think there is a captive enough audience for this in DC and it certainly isn’t going to make the money the District thinks it will.

    The metro system ridership in the 1:00am to 2:00am window on Saturday (the booze train as it is currently called) is 2100 rides per hour as it is. The entire metro only sees 2100 people during that hour as it is. Granted, it isn’t an easy comparison because not everyone who is out is riding metro, but I doubt many people at all are going to be in DC bars regularly until 4:00am

    • get real

      • I did, and gave actual numbers to work with. Late night Metro ridership is a pretty good “bar barometer”.

        Now you try. Just how many people do you think are going to be in DC bars at 4:00am on the average Saturday?

        If the nations second largest, most heavily ridden public transportation system only currently gets 2,100 riders an hour between 1-2 am, there aren’t many people out and about at the bars at 2:00am, there will be even fewer at 4.

        Oh, and for comparison, Metro sees 5000 rides in the midnight to 1:am hour, so metro ridership falls off 60% in that 1-2am hour.

        Keep the trend going and (if) metro was open to service the late night drunks at 4am, there would 300 people using the system during that 3-4am time frame.

        • you really think late night ridership on the weekend is really a great “bar barometer?” You must be joking. Only 42% of those working in the “center core” -Washington and parts of Arlington County – use mass transit and that’s weekday ridership. Metro ridership simply isnt the right gauge. You must live way out in VA or MD. I use the metro when I can on the weekend but it is far from regular. I dont know many people that consistently ride the metro home on the weekends after drinking.

          • Riding the Metro home after drinking is pretty common, if you live near a Metro station. I suspect that your intuition that Metro ridership might not be an accurate gauge of bar patrons is correct, but your assumption that a Metro rider probably would live way out in MD or VA makes no sense. Anyway, Joker is right that keeping Metro open longer would not be cost-effective and is probably not realistic considering the system’s financial condition.

  • Allison

    The only reason I mind this one is if it is not matched by a corresponding increase in metro hours. I worry about drunk drivers.

    As for the noise issue, if you’re gonna wake me up at 2, you’re gonna wake me up at 3. And if you’re going to wake me up at 3 on a weekend, you are going to wake me up at 4. I’m getting woken up in the middle of the night regardless of when the bars close, so I don’t think that’s really the right grounds on which to oppose this.

  • Considering the cost in extended police coverage of areas like Adams Morgan and the lack of late-night (I hope that hyphenation was correct) Metro, I’d be surprised to see this pass. If it does, the world won’t end, but I don’t see any real benefit for the city. I don’t care either way, but I think the naysayers will carry the day.

  • You might oppose this if it was your work day that was getting extended by an hour!

    • Or you might welcome the chance to make an extra hour’s worth of tips.

      • Allison

        I wonder if there is a pattern as to whether people tip better at the beginning of the night or the end of the night.

        Speculation: People tip better at the beginning of the night because they haven’t blown a bunch of money yet, so they’re not feeling stingy.

        Opposite speculation: People tip better at the end of the night because they’re piss drunk and just don’t care.

        Any bartenders in the house who can weigh in as to whether people tip better at beginning or end?

        • Both are true for different people, so on average its about the same at the beginning and the end of the night.

  • I feel like I love nightlife at least as much as anyone else, but I think changing bar closing times from 2 to 3 (on weeknights) and 3 to 4 (on weekend nights) is going to create hassles for the city and its citizens that any additional revenue isn’t going to outweigh.

    Metro is not in a good position to be able to expand its service (if anything, they’re considering cutting back), so a later closing time would mean even more drunk people on the roads than there are already. This is a serious public safety issue that shouldn’t be underestimated.

    A lot of people who work in bars — bartenders, waitresses, DJs — also have day jobs. Being up late at night can be hard enough for us as it is. Sure, there are way more potential patrons than there are bar employees, but employees (unlike bar owners and bar patrons) can’t really opt out of the later hours without quitting their jobs.

    And maybe most importantly, later closing times would present quality-of-life issues. For example, people who live in Adams Morgan currently know that there’s no point in trying to find street parking on a Friday or Saturday night until about 2 a.m.; this proposal would change that to 3 a.m. And that’s not even counting quality-of-life issues related to noise, trash, etc.

    I’m sure this thread is going to end up with the usual false binaries — “If you don’t like it, move to Bethesda/Reston/etc.” Sigh. I suppose the so-called NIMBYs could be equally reductionist and say, “If you want a later bar closing time, move to New York”??

  • If this proposed action is justified in any way by stating it would increase tax revenue, I would propose an alternative suggestion. Let liquor stores open on Sundays. Wine and beer stores are open, why not liquor stores?

    • Allison

      Although I agree that liquor stores should be able to be open on Sundays (law based on an outdated religious grounds) I don’t know if this would be an alternative to solve the tax revenue problem. Right now, people just have to stock up on bottled liquor at other times of week instead of on Sunday; while opening the store on Sunday makes it more convenient, I’m not sure it moves more merchandise overall, just shift its purchase point in time. With bars, however, the later hours would presumably allow more consumption, thus more taxes. Still don’t think the measure is the right way to raise revenue.

  • I think giving people and businesses the freedom to choose is a good thing. I suspect many bars will continue to close at 2am/3am because the crowd at many bars is already getting a little thin by that time. If there are specific bars that are causing problems late night, whether 2am, 3am or 4am, then deal with them individually. Give the freedom to the people and businesses though.

  • So, umm, this hearing will start in the early evening and go til, like, 3 or 4 a.m.? 😉

  • As someone affiliated with the service industry, I don’t think you will see every bar in the city using these extended hours. As stated earlier these rules will be optional, and many individual bars have independent agreements with their neighborhood associations/property management companies to close at a certain time which most likely won’t change.

    In addition I personally think that between 2-3 AM on weekends is like witching hour for many bars and you won’t get as many quality customers just more people that are likely to cause a problem. The only good customers one might get are fellow service industry employees who get out earlier.

    Despite this I think that if a bar thinks it will be good for business to keep employees later, they should have a right to as long as they follow the rules regarding noise and crowd control.

  • Dc is full of people who dont know how to drink past one, much less 4am
    As a manager, i would say no.

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