California lawmakers try again to extend bar hours to 4 a.m.

A Democratic lawmaker who once supported the fight to keep bars, restaurants and nightclubs open late on Friday said he will try to change state law again, arguing that the nightlife is prolonged. can have a major impact on tourism, small businesses and the local economy.

State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) announced SB 930, a bill that marks his third on the subject, authorizing the sale of alcohol from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. to nightlife establishments in seven cities including San Francisco, West Hollywood and Palm Springs . All cities are required to be included in the five-year pilot program, he said.

“For too long, we’ve had a general rule that all alcohol service must end at 2 a.m.,” Wiener said Friday at a news conference in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood. “We know nightlife is incredibly important to our culture and economy. When you think about why people move to cities, one of them is that they want a vibrant nightlife, to be able to have fun and enjoy themselves. ”

Wiener says that small businesses have struggled to get back on their feet during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that expanding nightlife will unify marginalized communities.

“The nightlife was once a paradise for the LGBTQ community. It’s our living room, our space, where we come together and even find our mate,” said Honey Mahogany, a partner at Stud, a historic nightlife venue is the oldest operating LGBTQ nightlife venue in San Francisco, said due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

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

In 2018, Wiener introduced a nearly identical bill, SB 905, passed both the National Assembly and the Senate but was vetoed by the then Government. Jerry Brown.

“We have enough mischief from midnight to 2 a.m. without another two hours of mess,” Brown wrote in his veto notice.

In 2019, Wiener tried again with SB 58, would have allowed overnight alcohol sales as part of a pilot project in 10 cities, instead of the seven listed in the new bill. It through the The Senate overwhelmed by a vote of 28-6 but was defeated in Congress.

“Now is the time to get this done. We are not a city without nightlife,” said Congressman Matt Haney of San Francisco. “In many cases, these businesses are the first to close and the last to open. Giving them a few more hours will, in many cases, make the difference to whether they survive or not.”

Wiener hopes that Newsom, a former mayor of San Francisco with a background in the restaurant industry, will have an open mind on the matter if the bill reaches his desk.

Historically, opponents of the bill have been concerned about the potential for increased drunken driving and sexual violence incidents due to the two-hour extension to the nightlife. And some of Weiner’s fellow Democrats may not be ready to make the change.

“It doesn’t seem like a good idea to potentially harm communities that are already struggling to keep communities safe,” said Democratic Senator Dave Cortese. Democratic congressman Dave Cortese, whose county includes much of Santa Clara County, said. Cortese added that he is still undecided on how he will vote on the bill this summer.

If enacted, each pilot city would have full control over how alcohol regulations are applied. Cities will have the discretion to limit such extended hours to certain neighborhoods or even streets, and may also choose days of the week or year that businesses can extend. their. Each business that decides to participate will have to go through a standard licensing process to obtain a liquor license for those additional hours.

Maria Davis, owner of St. Mary’s in Bernal Heights, says the only reason she’s still in business is because of COVID-19 innovation policies like takeout cocktails and outdoor seating.

“I think there is a real misconception that because our doors are open and restrictions have been lifted, that means we are going strong. But we don’t,” Davis said. “Watching those important dollars walk out the door at 2 a.m. is painful.” California lawmakers try again to extend bar hours to 4 a.m.

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