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Assembly allows bars to stay open another hour on weekends, but not serve alcohol

Rosemary Shinohara
Bob Hallinen

Bars around Anchorage now have the option of applying to stay open an extra hour on Friday and Saturday nights, but not serve alcohol the last hour.

The Anchorage Assembly voted Tuesday night to let bars close at 4 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights instead of 3 a.m. -- the current weekend bar closing time -- so that patrons aren't all hustled out the door at the same time. Bars have to apply for a city permit to do this.

The idea grew out of frustration with chaos on the streets and sidewalks at bar break in downtown Anchorage when hundreds of drunken people pour out of the bars at once.

Downtown Assemblyman Patrick Flynn initially proposed in December that the large downtown bars be required to stop serving drinks an hour earlier than now, not later. Smaller bars and bars outside the downtown area would have been able to close at the same time as now.

But some bar owners protested.

Assemblymen Dick Traini and Adam Trombley drew up a new version of the proposal, calling for later weekend closings anywhere in town, not just downtown.

"We wanted to give them the safety hour they've been asking for for a year," Traini said Wednesday.

Doran Powell, general manager of Chilkoot Charlie's in Spenard and an officer of Anchorage CHARR, the Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association, told the Assembly on Tuesday that the Traini-Trombley version "is much more preferable to us."

Typically, 300 to 400 people leave Chilkoot's at bar closing, he said -- far more than be accommodated by local taxis at one time. With the later closing, people could wait inside for a second round of cabs or a roommate to come get them, he said.

Of Flynn's proposal, Powell said, "Closing an hour early seems punitive."

Silvia Villamides, director of Anchorage CHARR, also objected to Flynn's version.

"It will create two different closing times, one for downtown, one for across the city," she said.

The Assembly went with the Train-Trombley plan, with amendments proposed by Flynn.

"I'm not sure we have the right answer," Flynn said. "But I think it's worth a try."

The measure passed 10-1, with Debbie Ossiander against. Ossiander said since the measure was an effort to address a downtown problem, she didn't see the need to include bars outside downtown in the solution.

"I really don't get why expanding the hours in Eagle River is going to do anything for my constituents," she said.

The provision for a later closing time will be revisited in a year. If the Assembly takes no action a year from now, the later closings will no longer be allowed.

The measure takes effect in 30 days.

Reach Rosemary Shinohara at rshinohara@adn.com or 257-4340.


By ROSEMARY SHINOHARA
rshinohara@adn.com