By Rebecca Palsha
Channel 2 News
4:32 PM AKST, January 9, 2013
Some Downtown bar owners want permission from the Anchorage Assembly to extend their business hours beyond the mandatory 3 a.m. last call, staying open for another hour or two to serve food and non-alcoholic drinks after the liquor stops flowing.
Backers of the idea, under which some businesses might be open until 5 a.m., say it could help curb some of the violence the city has experienced during the past year, including a deadly Oct. 28 shooting outside the Platinum Jaxx nightclub.
The Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association proposed the idea Wednesday morning to the public safety committee of the Anchorage Assembly. The industry group is looking at alternatives to Assembly member Patrick Flynn’s proposal that would close Downtown bars with a capacity of 125 people or more an hour earlier, at 2 a.m.
CHARR's president, Ivan Ramos, says its proposal would avoid the current big rush of people being forced onto the streets each night at last call.
“It would allow, create a trickle effect,” Ramos said. “It would allow a lot of the patrons to stay inside and take their time to leave. As of right now, when the bar closes, everybody has to be outside the door -- so you’re having probably close to two or three thousand people all at once on the streets.”
Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew says he’s willing to look into the proposal.
“On its face, I’m not seeing anything that makes me think we can’t talk about this,” Mew said.
One of the co-owners of Platinum Jaxx, Jess Hepper, says he’d like to be able to hire off-duty police officers who could patrol the Downtown area. The officers would be paid from fees raised by area bars, with the money put into a fund managed by a group like the Anchorage Downtown Partnership.
“What I’ve found is simply even a car out front with their lights on, people walk out and see that and they just disperse,” Hepper said.
The Anchorage Assembly will discuss some of the suggestions at its Friday work session.
Contact Rebecca Palsha
Copyright © 2013, KTUU-TV