California lawmakers are trying again to extend bar hours to 4 a.m.

A Democratic lawmaker who has championed the fight to keep bars, restaurants and nightclubs open late said Friday he would try again to change state law, arguing that extended nightlife could have a major impact on tourism, small businesses and local economies.

State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) announced SB 930, a bill that marks its third time on the subject, that would allow the sale of alcohol from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. for nightspots in seven cities including San Francisco, West Hollywood and Palm Springs. All cities, he said, have applied to be included in a five-year pilot program.

“For too long we’ve had a one-size-fits-all rule that all alcohol services should end at 2 a.m.,” Wiener said Friday at a news conference in San Francisco’s Castro district. “We know that nightlife is so important to our culture and to our economy. When you think of the reasons why people move to cities, one of them is that they want to have a lively nightlife, to be able to have fun and have fun.

Wiener said small businesses were struggling to get back on their feet during the COVID-19 pandemic and that an expansion of nightlife operations would unite marginalized communities.

“Nightlife has been a haven for the LGBTQ community. This has been our living rooms, our space, where we come together and even find our partners,” said Honey Mahogany, partner at Stud, a historic nightlife spot that was once the oldest LGBTQ nightlife spot in San Francisco, but is temporarily closed. due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ben Bleiman, a Tonic Nightlife Group partner, said: “When we have people traveling from out of town and we tell them they have to leave for the night, they can’t believe it.”

Currently, California allows the sale of alcohol from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. for bars, nightclubs and restaurants – rules that have been in place for more than 80 years, since 1935 when the 21st Amendment ended the nationwide ban on the sale of alcohol.

In 2018, Wiener introduced an almost identical bill, SB 905, which managed to pass through both the Assembly and the Senate, but was vetoed by the Governor at the time. Jerry Brown.

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

In 2019, Wiener tried again with CS58, which would have allowed the sale of alcohol overnight as part of a pilot project in 10 cities, instead of the seven listed in the new bill. This past the Senate overwhelmingly with a vote of 28 to 6 but was defeated in the Assembly.

“Now is the time to do it. We’re not a city without nightlife,” said San Francisco Assemblyman Matt Haney. “In many cases, these businesses were the first to close and the last to open. Giving them a few more hours, in many cases, will make the difference in whether or not they survive.

Wiener hopes Newsom, a former San Francisco mayor with a background in the restaurant industry, will have an open mind about the issue if the bill reaches his office.

Historically, opponents of the bill have worried about a possible increase in drunk driving and incidents of sexual violence as a result of the two-hour extension of nightlife. And some of Weiner’s Democratic colleagues may not be ready to make the switch.

“It seems like adding two more hours of potential damage to a community already struggling to keep its constituents safe is not a good idea,” said Democratic Sen. Dave Cortese, whose district encompasses a large part of Santa Clara County. Cortese added that he has yet to decide how he will vote on the bill this summer.

If passed, each pilot city would have full control over how the liquor rules are enforced. Cities would have the discretion to limit these extended hours to certain neighborhoods or even certain streets, and could also choose which days of the week or year businesses could extend their hours. Each business that decides to participate should follow the standard licensing process to obtain a liquor license for these additional hours.

Maria Davis, the owner of St. Mary’s in Bernal Heights, said the only reason she’s still in business is because of innovative policies during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as take-out cocktails and indoor seating. the outside.

“I think there is a real misconception that because our doors are open and the restrictions have been lifted, that means we are thriving. But we’re not,” Davis said. “Seeing those critical dollars come out at 2 a.m. is painful.”

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