Senate Bill Could Allow Cities to Extend Last Call

Proponents say the bill would bring more money to local cities and help small businesses like late-night cafes.

A new bill making its way through the state legislature could allow bars and clubs across California to stay open until 4 a.m.

Currently, bars are required by law to close down at 2 a.m.

The legislation, known as the "LOCAL Act," or Let Our Communities Adjust Late Night, would allow local governments to extend alcohol service hours to a time between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. with the authorization of the state Department of Alcohol Beverage Control.

If passed, cities would not be required to extend hours for serving alcohol.

Proponents say the bill would bring more money to local cities and help small businesses like late-night cafes. They also say the bill will bring Californian cities closer to other cities that offer nightlife for residents like New York City and Washington, D.C.

The bill is authored by State Sen. Scott Wiener, (D-11th District), representing San Francisco. One of the co-sponsors of the bill is State Senator Joel Anderson (R – 38th District) who represents El Cajon.

In San Diego, a change in last call could create a different atmosphere in the Gaslamp Quarter.

Groups opposed to the bill will meet Tuesday to speak out against the proposed legislation.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the California Alcohol Policy Alliance say keeping the bars open until 4 a.m. will impose more alcohol-related issues for law enforcement. They believe extending the hours of alcohol service would require more law enforcement patrolling the city.

Communities interested in extending their hours must develop a plan identifying the affected areas and obtain a law enforcement assessment of the public safety impact. In addition, they must demonstrate support from local residents and businesses, as well as the availability of transportation.

The proposal does not apply to liquor stores, and individual businesses would still need to apply to the ABC for an extended hours license.

The legislation is backed by a coalition of business and hospitality groups including the California Restaurant Association, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, the California Music and Culture Association, the California Hotel and Lodging Association, the Hotel Council SF, San Francisco Travel and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

Cities that allow alcohol service beyond 2 a.m. include Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York City, Buffalo, Las Vegas, Louisville, Atlanta, Miami Beach and New Orleans.

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