Anchorage police say having bars open an hour longer without serving alcohol, as approved by the Assembly Tuesday night, is an experiment they’re willing to try if it makes the city safer.
Under the new ordinance, local bars can stay open until 4 a.m. serving food, with alcohol service still stopping at the 3 a.m. last call. The changes came after several violent incidents Downtown, as well as complaints from businesses about a wave of vandalism prompted by people being immediately forced out of bars at last call.
The additional hour is being billed as a chance for people to sober up inside, while they wait for a ride home.
“We’ll see how it works, but it’s a worthy experiment,” said Steve Smith, APD's deputy chief.
Assembly member Patrick Flynn, who represents Downtown Anchorage, had wanted bars to close an hour earlier at 2 a.m. -- but he’s willing to see if the added no-drinking hour works.
"I’m not sure we have the right answer, but we’ve got something that’s workable," Flynn said. "We’ll see how it goes."
To operate under the extended hours, a bar must change its conditional use permit with the city.
Flynn says any bar caught with people drinking inside after 3 a.m. will get a $3,000 citation -- if bar staff are aware of the drinking. If a patron is caught with a drink and the bar owner doesn’t know about it, the patron will get a citation.
A sunset provision will end the new rules next February, unless they're extended by the Assembly.
Contact Rebecca Palsha