Closing time for bars in the District could be pushed back an hour if Mayor Vincent Gray gets his way, but some worry the move might create a "Bourbon Street atmosphere" in some neighborhoods.
In his $10 billion budget for 2013, Gray tries to avoid major tax increases or too many service cuts. Gray’s budget would raise an extra $3 million a year by allowing bars to stay open an extra hour -- 4 a.m. on weekends.
That's meeting some early resistance from council members worried about neighborhood stability and public rowdiness already. Ward 1 Councilman said the city might as well allow casinos, too, if it is going to allow that “Bourbon Street atmosphere."
“Any suggestions about changing the hours of alcohol sales will be met with concerns in Ward 4,” Councilwoman Muriel Bowser said.
Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells expressed concern about drunken driving and people drinking for longer periods of time.
Trio owner George Mallios welcomed the idea, saying there are people who don’t have to get up early and want a place to go late.
Some retail businesses worry late night bars could affect the retail mix.
“It makes it more difficult, I think, to run day-to-day businesses if the bars get too rowdy and stay up too late,” said David Schaefer, of Urban Essentials on busy U Street.
The bar hour proposal will take weeks to work out and wouldn't become effective until at least late this year.
Many bars in the District have voluntary agreements with their neighborhoods that could affect whether some bars could take advantage of the longer hours.