Senate Passes Senator Wiener’s Bill Allowing Cities to Choose to Extend Nightlife Alcohol Sales to 4 AM

May 21, 2019

Sacramento –  Today, Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) bill to allow – but not require – ten pilot cities to extend sales of alcohol at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants (but not liquor stores) to as late as 4 a.m. passed the Senate with a 28-6 vote. It will now head to the Assembly for committee hearings in the coming weeks.  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 ten cities whose Mayors or City Councils have expressed interest in pursuing later hours: San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, West Hollywood, and Long Beach, Coachella, Cathedral City, Fresno, and Palm Springs.

Last year, this same bill, numbered SB 905 and authored by Senator Wiener, passed the Legislature with broad bi-partisan support, but Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the bill. At the time, Senator Wiener vowed to bring back this effort to support nightlife, culture, music, tourism, small businesses, and middle class jobs.

As with the previous version of the bill, each city will decide for itself whether to remain at California’s blanket 2 a.m. closing time or extend later. And, as with the previous version, cities that choose to extend hours will have to go through a community outreach process, work with law enforcement agencies, and formulate public safety and transportation plans.

“I am thankful to my colleagues for understanding the need for cities to have flexibility when it comes nightlife,” said Senator Wiener. “California’s current rigid, outdated, blanket 2 a.m. closing time no longer makes sense. Nightlife is so important for the culture and economy of our cities. Our entire state will benefit from allowing cities the flexibility to extend their nightlife if they see fit.”

SB 58 does not automatically extend alcohol sale hours in these ten cities – it simply creates the option for the cities to choose to extend hours or to stick with the current 2 a.m. closing time. Cities will have significant flexibility and can, for example, limit extended hours only to certain neighborhoods or streets, 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. Each extended hours permit will also have to go through normal ABC review, with full public notice. The bill 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.

The LOCAL Act continues to have bipartisan and geographically diverse support. Assemblymembers Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles), and Jay Obernolte (R-Big Bear Lake), and Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley) are co-authors. SB 58 also has the support of San Francisco Travel, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, the San Francisco Bar Alliance, the California Music and Culture Association, the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, CalTravel, Lyft, and Uber.

The LOCAL Act establishes 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, including developing a public safety and transportation plan. Local communities also have complete flexibility to permit alcohol sale hours to include only specific days of the week or certain holidays. 

Full text of the bill can be found here.