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Governor Says No to ‘Two More Hours Of Mayhem’

Vetoes 4 AM Closing Time for Alcohol at Bars and Restaurants

By Sean Brown

Has our libertine governor transformed into Carry Nation?

Senate Bill 905 authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) would have allowed nine California cities, including San Francisco, to extend the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants from 2AM to 4AM.

In striking down the legislation, Governor Brown said that “Without question, these two extra hours will result in more drinking.”

In response to the veto, Senator Wiener said that “California’s one-size-fits-all closing time doesn’t make sense. When it comes to nightlife you can’t compare downtown Los Angeles or San Francisco to small town. We are focusing all of our cities to conform to the same closing time regardless of the varying needs and wants of the local community.”

In pressing his bill through the Legislature, the Senator noted that, “social and nightlife venues are an economic driver in many communities, and the State’s food service and entertainment industries generate billions of dollars in consumer spending and employ well over a million Californians.  This optional tool for local control over nightlife will increase tax revenue and tourism as well as revitalize business districts.  No city would be required to allow alcohol service past 2 a.m.  Rather, the bill allows these six cities to opt in: pure local control.”

The Senator also drew what he believes is an unequal playing field for these nine cities when compared to international tourist spots saying, “currently our California destination cities are at a disadvantage when competing with cities both nationally and internationally for tourists, conventions, and conferences” which have later alcohol serving times.

Echoing these points, the California Music & Culture Association said “SB 905 is a well-balanced solution that provides local control over night-life while helping to grow our travel and tourism industry.” The California Chamber of Commerce, the California Travel Association and the California Restaurant Association backed up that support.

California Governor Jerry Brown (Via gov.ca.gov)

The Governor wasn’t convinced, noting in his veto message that while “businesses and cities in support of this bill see that as a good source of revenue” the California Highway Patrol “strongly believes that this increased drinking will lead to more drunk driving.”

The Alcohol Policy Panel of San Diego County noted that if the bill passed, 76% of the state’s population would be affected.  “They will experience increases in alcohol consumption and related problems including violence, emergency room admission, injuries, alcohol-impaired driving, and motor vehicle crashes.”

In siding with the opposition, Governor Brown added one final editorial punch to his veto message, stating, “I believe we have enough mischief from midnight to 2 without adding two more hours of mayhem.”

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