Wednesday, December 17, 2008

“Last Call” Compromise

The DC Council succumbed to pressure from concerned US Senators and ecumenical and community groups last night and moved a special inauguration week “last call” in District bars to 4 a.m. from the 5 a.m. cutoff announced last week.

Under rules laid out in last night’s 9-4 vote, bars can remain open twenty-four hours from January 17-21, but may only serve alcohol until 4 a.m. Bars that wish to extend their hours past 2 a.m. weekdays and 3 a.m. weekends must pay a registration fee of $100 for bars and restaurants and $250 for nightclubs, the Washington Post reports.

The new 4 a.m. closing time is a compromise to vent off anger from various sources. Community groups said the DC Council rode roughshod over legally binding agreements between communities and bars about noise and operating hours when it announced last week without prior public notification that bars would have been able to serve alcohol until 5 a.m.

Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Bob Bennett (R-Utah) protested drawing police away from inauguration security to contend with drunken crowds on the streets of places like Adams Morgan. The Downtown Cluster of Congregations sided with Sens. Feinstein and Bennett noting that the current level of police presence in Adams Morgan hasn’t been able to prevent a string of recent homicides in the popular nightlife neighborhood.

Meanwhile, the bureaucratic disconnect between the DC Council and DC Metro remains. With the dust settled, the 4 a.m. “last call” compromise appears likely to stand, but Metro has yet to amend its hours of operation past 3 a.m. January 17, midnight January 18 and 19 and 2 a.m. January 20.

After celebrating late into the night in District bars during inauguration week, throngs of revelers trapped in the city by insufficient transportation infrastructure will have to find their way back to their lodgings on foot, in the dark, in late January, or wait for Metro to begin operating.

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