California rejects bill to extend bar hours to 4am in 3 cities

California lawmakers on Wednesday rejected legislation that would have allowed West Hollywood, San Francisco and Palm Springs to allow weekend alcohol service until 4 a.m. in bars, nightclubs and restaurants.

Senate Bill 930 by State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) would have allowed each city to extend liquor sales until 4 a.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and certain holidays and until at 3 a.m. every other day. Under current law, these businesses can sell alcohol until 2 a.m.

“SB 930 is a local control bill that allows cities to decide what nightlife is best for their communities and small businesses,” Wiener and Assemblyman Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) said in a statement after the defeat of the bill in the Assembly. “We are assessing whether there is a pathway to get the bill out of the Assembly.”

Wiener said the extended hours would have helped small businesses struggling to get back on their feet after the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also said the addition of nightlife would have helped unify LGBTQ communities in West Hollywood, San Francisco and Palm Springs. The leaders of the three cities had asked to be included in the pilot program.

In 2018, Wiener introduced a similar bill, which the then government vetoed. Jerry Brown.

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

Wiener tried again in 2019 with a bill that would have allowed extended liquor sales in 10 cities, but failed to pass the Assembly. On Wednesday, the Assembly rejected its latest version, which passed overwhelmingly in the Senate in May.

Republicans and Democrats spoke out against the bill during a House debate, expressing concern that longer hours of service would lead to more drunk drivers on the streets .

“Extending these hours of duty so that people become debilitated, mixed with the fatigue factor which also poses an extreme threat to public safety, is asking for death. I promise you there will be deaths, unnecessary deaths, if we pass this bill,” said Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), a retired California Highway Patrol sergeant. .

Wiener and Haney called this argument “misleading”. Haney, who advocated for the bill in the Assembly, said research showed no increase in drunk driving in states, including New York and Hawaii, where bars and discos serve alcohol beyond 2 am.

“We found that there was no correlation between states with late closing hours and higher rates of drunk driving,” Haney said. “We need to re-examine our unique, top-down approach to nightlife in our state. This restricts business; it hurts economic activity.

After the bill was defeated, Haney requested that it be allowed to be reconsidered later – a procedural decision that offers a slim chance of success.

California allows the sale of alcohol from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. for bars, nightclubs and restaurants. These rules have been in place for over 80 years.

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