Wiener’s 4 a.m. Last Call Bill Gets an Encore

State Sen. Scott Wiener introduced a third bill to allow alcohol sales until 4 a.m. under a five-year pilot program.

Columbus Cafe (Photo by Christopher Victorio)

For the third time, state Sen. Scott Wiener is pushing forward a bill that would allow several cities to grant nightlife establishments the ability to sell alcohol until 4 a.m.

The San Francisco politico announced on Tuesday he would introduce SB 58 as the new iteration of past bills, neither of which succeeded. The first in 2017 failed to leave committee, and Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the second attempt this past September. But that’s not stopping Weiner, who has now added the element of pilot cities that could decide how to proceed with the state’s approval.

“California’s century-old, rigid, 2 a.m. closing time — which applies equally in large urban areas and small farm towns — stifles our night-time economy,” Weiner said in a statement. “We should embrace nightlife and give local communities the ability to tailor their nightlife to their own needs.”

Nine cities that have already expressed interest — San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, West Hollywood, Long Beach, Coachella, Palm Springs, and Cathedral City — would be allowed into a five-year pilot program. The Let Our Communities Adjust Late-Night (or LOCAL) Act would give these cities the option to extend alcohol sales not at liquor stores with or without restrictions to certain streets, neighborhoods, or nights of the week.

Nightlife hubs like Polk, Valencia, and Castro streets could become a central part of that conversation in San Francisco, should supervisors need to hash out late-night rules. Venues such as DNA Lounge and the Stud have joined in Wiener’s past efforts.

“San Francisco is a world-class city,” said Honey Mahogany, a co-owner of the Stud, in 2017. “Which is why we need to adopt new thinking about this law.”

Opponents have pointed to extended alcohol sales as a stressor on public transportation, emergency services, and police patrols. But the nine cities would have to go through a community-outreach process that includes plans for such issues, including public safety.

When Brown vetoed the bill in September, he cited additional drinking not as a potential revenue source, but as the cause of an increase in drunk driving.

“I believe we have enough mischief from midnight to 2 [a.m.] without adding two more hours of mayhem,” Brown wrote in his veto notice.

But Brown is out, and this time, the ball is in Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom’s court.

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