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Senator Scott Wiener (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Wiener Attempts take two on Extension of Alcohol Sales

Bars, Nightclubs, and Resturants would be permitted to sell Alcohol until 4 A.M.

By Sean Brown, December 18, 2018 1:18 pm

Some select cities will get a second shot at keeping their nightlife festivities open later as State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) is hoping that soon-to-be Governor Gavin Newsom will be more-fond of Senate Bill 58 than Governor Jerry Brown.

Passed by the state legislature earlier this year, but eventually rejected by Governor Jerry Brown, SB 905 would have allowed San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, West Hollywood, Long Beach, Coachella, Cathedral City, and Palm Springs to extend their nightlight hours and alcohol sales until 4 a.m.

Now, after Wiener “vowed to bring back this effort to support nightlife, culture, music, tourism, small businesses, and middle class jobs,” he has re-introduced SB 905 in the form of Senate Bill 58, which would allow – but does not require these municipalities to prolong their current 2 a.m. closing time another 2 hours.

It is important to note, the bill would not apply to liquor stores.

“California’s diverse cities deserve laws that fit their economic and cultural needs,” said Senator Wiener.

He also added, “California’s century-old, rigid 2 a.m. closing time – which applies equally in large urban areas and small farm towns – stifles our nighttime economy. Nightlife is so important for the culture and economy of our cities. We should embrace nightlife and give local communities the ability to tailor their nightlife to their own needs.”

Although Senator Wiener claims that his bill is bipartisan, not all lawmakers are in support of the idea as Assemblymember Jay Obernolte (R-Big Bear Lake) is one of the only Republicans backing the bill from the right. Obernolte is also listed as a co-author on the bill along with fellow Assemblymemnbers Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles).

Furthermore, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the bill stating, “I am returning Senate Bill 905 without my signature. This bill would authorize nine California cities to extend the hours businesses can serve alcohol from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. Without question, these two extra hours will result in more drinking. The businesses and cities in support of this bill see that as a good source of revenue. The California Highway Patrol, however, strongly believes that this increased drinking will lead to more drunk driving. California’s laws regulating late night drinking have been on the books since 1913. I believe we have enough mischief from midnight to 2 without adding two more hours of mayhem.” Wiener has argued otherwise.

Despite the ruling by Brown, there is good news for the Senator. Not only has Governor-Elect Gavin Newsom said he will go further to sign many bills that Brown did not, but every city included in the bill appears to have the support by each Mayor.

Newsom is also a significant founder in the company PlumpJack which is a group of restaurants, bars and hotels. It isn’t clear if this could cause any legal issues pertaining to self-interests, but it would certainly boost his attention on the matter.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said, “every community has its own needs, and cities should be able to make informed decisions about what nightlife hours make sense for residents, visitors, and neighborhoods.” And Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said, “this legislation gives us the flexibility to tailor our nightlife scene to attract tourists and conventions while protecting the character of our quieter residential neighborhoods.”

The bill also calls for a five-year pilot program that wouldn’t start until 2022, however, Wiener has hinted that this deadline will be expedited to an earlier start date around 2020 or at the latest, 2021.

The first hearing on the bill is expected to take place in mid-March or early April.

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