SACRAMENTO – Senator Mark Leno has introduced legislation that would give local communities across the state the option to expand social and tourism offerings, increase local tax revenue and create jobs through the extension of beverage service hours. SB 635 would allow local jurisdictions to partner with the state to develop plans that could expand these services until 4 a.m. at restaurants and night clubs that go through a full public approval process.
Pursuant to federal law, states are allowed to regulate beverage service hours. SB 635 would align California with at least nine states and dozens of cities that have successfully implemented extended or flexible closing times. Currently, at least 25 cities and towns have late-night service hours, including Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York City, Buffalo, Las Vegas, Louisville, Atlanta, Miami Beach, New Orleans and Albany. In addition, many cities across the globe have extended or flexible service times, including Barcelona, Tokyo, Berlin, Rio de Janeiro and Sydney. This bill would allow California cities to compete on an even playing field with these cities and states for valuable tourist dollars and increased job opportunities.
“Many cities in California have dynamic social activities that are vital to their economies, but they lack the flexibility to expand their businesses,” said Sen. Leno, D-San Francisco. “This legislation would allow destination cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego to start local conversations about the possibility of expanding nightlife and the benefits it could provide the community by boosting jobs, tourism and local tax revenue.”
SB 635, is supported by the California Restaurant Association, Golden Gate Restaurant Association, California Music and Culture Association, and San Francisco Council of District Merchants.
“Music, entertainment and nightlife in vibrant cities like San Francisco are significant economic engines for their entire regions, said Henry Karnilowicz, president of the San Francisco Council of District Merchants Associations, which has advocated for small businesses for more than 60 years. “Local businesses catering to urban areas that embrace late-night social scenes should have the option to responsibly diversify their company models to attract more international visitors and meet the needs of residents, including those who work unconventional shifts.”
Current California law limits the sale of alcohol between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m. for on- and off-sale establishments. SB 635 would allow a county to submit a local plan to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to extend hours up to 4 a.m. The expanded hours would apply only to on-sale establishments, which include restaurants and night clubs. It would not apply to off-sale establishments such as liquor stores.
“Uniform closing times put significant stress on public transportation systems and the law enforcement agencies tasked with managing and dispersing large crowds of patrons when they all leave the clubs at 2 a.m.,” said Matt Gray, executive director of Taxpayers for Improving Public Safety. “This proposal gives locals the ability to tailor their beverage service hours to the individual needs of the community in order to help alleviate these pressures.”
Social industries are critical to California’s local economies. According to a recent study, nightlife establishments in the City of San Francisco generated $4.2 billion in spending in 2010. They supported the city’s economy by drawing new visitors, employing 48,000 workers, purchasing more than $1.5 billion in goods and services from other local businesses, and generating $55 million in local tax revenue.
A quarter of the nation’s top 100 grossing social and nightlife venues are located in California, including 15 in Los Angeles and seven in San Diego. San Francisco has two of the top 100 clubs, and Sacramento has one. The country’s top 10 late-night establishments are located in cities that have extended hours, including Las Vegas, Miami Beach and New York City.
SB 635 will be heard in policy committees in the Senate this spring.