Assembly delays consideration of proposal for earlier bar times

Rosemary Shinohara

The Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday night postponed until Feb. 26 consideration of a proposal to require the largest downtown bars to stop serving drinks an hour earlier than now.

The proposal, by downtown Assemblyman Patrick Flynn, is intended to reduce chaos that occurs outside the bars at closing time, when everyone pours out into the street.

Police Chief Mark Mew last week characterized the downtown scene at bar closing as "a frat party." Often fights break out, or there's other trouble at the bar break.

But some bar owners protested Flynn's idea, and two other Assembly members are proposing a different plan -- to let downtown bars that want to, to stay open later than current city law allows, but not serve alcohol. Under this plan, downtown bars could stay open until 5 a.m. on weekends.

The idea would be for patrons to trickle out after last call for drinks, instead of all leaving at once, said Assemblyman Adam Trombley. He and Dick Traini are sponsoring the proposal.

The Assembly voted to send all versions to the city's Public Safety Advisory Commission for comment at the commission's Feb. 13 meeting before moving ahead.

If Flynn's measure is approved, the largest bars --those with a capacity of 125 people or more -- would cut off alcohol service at 1:30 a.m. instead of 2:30 a.m. weekdays, and 2 a.m. instead of 3 a.m. weekends. Smaller bars and all bars outside of downtown could keep serving an hour longer.

The idea behind Flynn's proposal would also be to get people to leave the bars in a more gradual fashion.

Few people testified Tuesday night, since the issue will come up again in February.

But one speaker, Chilkoot Charlie's owner Mike Gordon, said, "I think we're making progress."

Gordon said if downtown bars are allowed to stay open later, so should bars outside downtown. Chilkoot's is in Spenard.

"I think it gives downtown an operational advantage," he said.