Senator Wiener to Bring Back Bill to Allow Cities to Choose to Extend Alcohol Sales to 4 AM
San Francisco – Today Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) joined nightlife supporters, labor, community members, and business leaders to rally around support for a renewed effort to allow – but not require – cities to extend sales of alcohol at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants (but not liquor stores) to as late as 4 a.m. The new 5-year pilot program version of the LOCAL Act, which stands for Let Our Communities Adjust Late-Night, preserves complete local control in terms of decision-making and applies only to the six cities whose Mayors have expressed interest in the bill: San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, West Hollywood, and Long Beach.
Earlier this year, the bill (allowing local control throughout California), passed the Senate with a 2/3 bipartisan vote led by Senator Wiener and Senator Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) and garnered significant support in the Assembly. Unfortunately, the bill was turned into a “study bill” (i.e., stripped of all its provisions and rendered meaningless) in the Assembly Appropriations Committee and Senator Wiener chose not to move the gutted version forward. At the time, Senator Wiener vowed to bring back this effort to support nightlife.
The bill does not automatically extend alcohol sale hours in these six cities – it simply creates the option for the cities to choose to extend hours. As with the previous bill, cities will have significant flexibility and can, for example, limit extended hours only to certain neighborhoods, only to certain nights of the week, or only to a few nights a year. Local governments still will have to create and approve a plan, which ABC will also have to approve, to allow for later service hours with full community input. The bill also has a five year sunset, which means the effects of allowing later service hours can be evaluated and then renewed or discontinued after five years.
“California is a diverse state with cities and neighborhoods that have different needs for nightlife, and we shouldn’t have a one-size-fits-all closing time,” said Senator Scott Wiener. “Last year we had huge support for extending hours for bars and restaurants, and this renewed effort builds on that support. Nightlife is central to the culture and economy of many of our cities, and they should be empowered to choose to extend alcohol sales hours if it makes sense for that city. This bill offers a nuanced and responsible approach to give cities local control to extend alcohol hours.”
The LOCAL Act continues to have bipartisan support in various parts of California. In addition to Senator Wiener’s lead authorship, the bill is co-authored by Assemblymembers Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), and Jay Obernolte (R-Hesperia).
“As the Assemblymember representing downtown Los Angeles, I am proud to again be a principal co-author of Senator Weiner’s legislation, to allow communities like ours to set their own alcohol beverage ‘closing times,” said Assemblymember Miguel Santiago. “Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world. Every day, we attract tourists from across the globe to experience everything our region has to offer, especially our vibrant nightlife. This narrowed proposal is a great step forward for our city and others across the state that thrive on evening entertainment.”
“As a strong proponent of local control, I think it’s entirely appropriate for cities to determine what’s right for their community,” said Assemblymember Jay Obernolte. “Ultimately, I support giving each municipality the choice on how their local businesses operate without any state interference.”
This effort to allow greater local control over late night service hours also has the support of San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, and West Hollywood Mayor John Heilman. (See quotes below)
When the Legislature reconvenes in January, Senator Wiener will introduce a new bill that will contain the same provisions as the previous effort, except it will only allow eligibility in the six cities whose Mayors have expressed support for the bill. Those cities would still have to go through a public process, including developing a public safety and transportation plan, before extending alcohol sales hours passed 2 a.m. The bill applies to bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, not liquor stores.
In making this announcement, Senator Wiener was joined by supporters of the bill at the Eagle Tavern in the South of Market neighborhood of San Francisco. The western SOMA neighborhood is central to San Francisco’s nightlife, particularly for the LGBT community. At the press conference, members of the nightlife community spoke in favor of the bill, including representatives from the California Music and Culture Association and renowned drag queens Heklina and Honey Mahogany.
Also in attendance were leaders from San Francisco’s hospitality, business, and tourism industry, as well as representatives of the Teamsters, who spoke about the value and importance of nightlife in providing jobs, tax dollars, and business opportunities. Business representatives included the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, San Francisco Hotel Council, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and San Francisco Travel. California’s nighttime and hospitality industry, including food service, bars/clubs, restaurants, and live music, generate many billions of dollars in consumer spending and employ well over a million Californians. Tourism in California generated $117.5 billion in spending in 2014 and supported over a million jobs.
The LOCAL Act will establish a process involving local government, local law enforcement, the general public, and the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) to extend the hours of alcohol sales to a specified time between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. in specific areas. Extended alcohol sale hours could be conditioned to include only specific days of the week or certain holidays.
Quotes from Mayors
San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee: “Senator Wiener’s bill is a thoughtful measure that will allow a handful of cities to extend beverage service hours, providing local economies the chance to expand tourism offerings, increase tax revenue, and foster an active, vibrant nightlife. The bill strikes a perfect balance by introducing new opportunity while still providing local jurisdictions the ability to prioritize the public safety of our neighborhoods and determine – business by business – whether such an extension is desirable.”
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf: “In Oakland we embrace the cultural and economic benefits that nightlife brings to our community. Allowing our city to explore extending nightlife hours can bring more of that culture out of the shadows so that we have a stronger, safer nightlife.” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti: “Cities should be able to choose for themselves whether extending nightlife hours would make sense for a community. This bill would give us the tools to look more closely at what is best for public safety and our economy, and to make those decisions at the local level.”
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg: “Sacramento is in the middle of a real revitalization, and we need more tools to draw visitors and conventions, as well as to support music and nightlife in our city. Through smart, responsible local decision-making, we can be a proud leader in the effort to expand and grow nightlife in California.”
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia: “I want to thank Senator Wiener for including the City of Long Beach in this bill. While this bill clearly would not work citywide for us, it does give the city and local law enforcement the flexibility to allow special events in the Downtown Entertainment District. This option has been supported by the Downtown Long Beach Business Alliance, which manages our business improvement district.”
West Hollywood Mayor John Heilman: “Nightlife is an important part of West Hollywood, particularly for the LGBT community. Cities like ours have a history of supporting a vibrant nightlife that celebrates our culture and grows our local economy. Expanding access to nightlife is a great idea and we can do so in a responsible, tailored way.”
Quotes from Supporters
Ben Bleiman, California Music and Culture Association and the San Francisco Bar Owners Alliance: “This will would - finally! - allow these California cities who chose to do so to extend their operating hours to match other world-class nightlife cities in the U.S.A and abroad. Currently, we are at a huge disadvantage when competing with cities like Chicago, Washington D.C., New York City, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Miami Beach, and New Orleans, all of whom have late-night service hours beyond 2 a.m.”
Gwyneth Borden, Executive Director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association: “San Francisco is frequently ranked as the best food city in the United States, with tourists listing food as one of the top reasons for visiting, yet many are disappointed that our eateries close much earlier than in other parts of the world. Allowing for later hours of alcohol service makes it sustainable for restaurants to be able to offer greater dining options after 10 pm."
Joe D’Alessandro, President and CEO of San Francisco Travel Association: “Tourism is San Francisco’s number one industry providing significant economic benefits to the people and workforce of our City and our important small business network. Permitting bars to extend their hours allows San Francisco to stay competitive in the night life scene with cities such as New York, Chicago, and Washington D.C. who are all vying for a share of the business, leisure and convention market.”
Jim Lazarus, senior vice president of public policy for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce: “We should determine at a city level how to best attract and support local nightlife businesses. We can’t take a one size fits all approach when it comes to nightlife in San Francisco neighborhoods. What’s best for one neighborhood might not be best for another, and this legislation allows us to capitalize on nightlife as an economic driver, increase jobs and local tax revenue, when deemed appropriate in a specific area of the City.”