State Sen. Scott Wiener’s third attempt to extend alcohol sales to 4 a.m. moved ahead with approval from the California Senate on Tuesday — and has better prospects in the governor’s mansion.
The Let Our Communities Adjust Late-Night, or LOCAL Act, would get a five-year pilot program rolling for select cities who have already expressed interest in extending alcohol sales at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants to 4 a.m., up from the 2 a.m. last call. San Francisco, Oakland, West Hollywood, Long Beach, and Fresno are among the 10 cities that would test out the new policy starting 2022.
“I am thankful to my colleagues for understanding the need for cities to have flexibility when it comes nightlife,” Wiener said in a statement. “California’s current rigid, outdated, blanket 2 a.m. closing time no longer makes sense. Nightlife is so important for the culture and economy of our cities.”
The latest iteration has a better chance than his 2017 push, which failed in committee, and the 2018 bill, vetoed by former Gov. Jerry Brown. But former San Francisco mayor and Gov. Gavin Newsom is friendly to nightlife as the owner of bars, restaurants, and wineries, even if they’re in a blind trust.
Cities like San Francisco would adopt their own plans, which may include limiting the extension to certain neighborhoods or streets, or even just select nights like New Year’s Eve. Alcohol and Beverage Control will provide final approval.
“I can’t tell you how embarrassing it is when visitors come from New York and Chicago, and we have to kick them out on the street at 2 a.m.,” said Heklina, drag queen and co-owner of Oasis, in 2017.
Where bars and restaurants are enthusiastic, opponents cite the need to address impacts on public transportation, emergency services, and police patrols.
“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.
If Newsom feels the same way, we’ll find out soon enough. The bill heads to the California Assembly before it reaches the governor’s desk.