District of Colombia Mayor Vincent Gray recently proposed his 2013 budget plan for the city of Washington.
In trying to avoid tax increases and service cuts, the $10M plan would raise an extra $5.3M by passing a law allowing DC bars, restaurants, lounges and nightclubs to serve alcohol until 4AM on weekends.
With “The Most Powerful City in the World” for a nickname, it’s difficult to imagine getting more press for the US capital. While politics will always be king, the Washington DC Nightlife and Entertainment community is thriving.
Live Nation venues like Warner Theater and the recently opened Fillmore Silver Spring bring world renowned music and comedy acts weekly. Productions like Fela!, Come Fly Away and more show regularly at Sidney Harmon Hall, the world famous Kennedy Center and other DC theater venues. The city is known amongst jazz and blue fans throughout America as the birthplace of the legendary Duke Ellington.
The above-mentioned activities however, are generally closed by Midnight.
Washington DC restaurants, lounges, bars and nightclubs provide invaluable revenue for The District primarily through sales tax on liquor. American nightlife meccas such as New York, Miami and Las Vegas not only have extended hours, they are also recognized as international destinations. Tourism thrives in these cities in part due to their ability to offer late night activities.
Allowing Washington DC nightlife venues to remain open until 4AM on weekends will create fresh buzz for a city dominated in the news by politics.
An extension of liquor sales on the weekends would cascade to the food, transportation, safety and tourism industries to name a few; and create more jobs in a rebuilding economy.
Nightlife entrepreneurs feel the extra hour will serve more than just their own business interests.
“It’ll be a tremendous boom for the DC economy; providing much needed revenue without effort from the government, or extra taxes on residents. Not only will it be generating more tax revenue, it will also generate more money in terms of salaries for nightlife employees and police details,”
– Panorama Productions owner Antonis Karagounis
DC council members concerned with stability and public rowdiness issues made the following comments:
“We don’t want any of that. We don’t want a Bourbon Street atmosphere.”
“Any suggestions about changing hours of alcohol sales will be met with concerns.”
“… concerned about people in cars, out later at night, drinking for longer periods.”
We feel it’s unfair to equate a 4AM last call with turning DC into one massive Bourbon Street party. The infamous New Orleans party destination is home to bars, restaurants, strip clubs and souvenir shops. All Mayor Grey wants is an extra hour at the bar.
We agree that there are issues that need to be addressed, but being out late in and of itself is not an argument against anything. People driving drunk is a concern whether it’s lunch time, happy hour, dinner or beyond.
If DC nightlife is granted an extra hour to serve alcohol on Friday and Saturday nights, it will potentially pay for over half of the Mayor’s proposed budget for 2013. If not from liquor sales tax, where will the money come from? Would you rather pay more taxes out of your pocket? Or would you rather have an extra hour at the bar and let the clubs pay to keep DC great?