Senator Wiener’s Legislation to Support Entertainment Venues in Economic Recovery Passes Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization

June 30, 2022

SACRAMENTO - Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) legislation to support entertainment venues, Senate Bill 793, passed the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization with a vote of 16-0.This legislation will now head to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. 

“It’s been a tough few years for our hospitality sector, and we need to do more to support these small businesses,” said Senator Wiener. “These businesses are an important part of our economy, driving tourism and employing many thousands of people. Plus, venues are a great community gathering space where we can see world class entertainers. We shouldn’t require these venues to jump through unnecessary hoops just to stay open.”   

SB 793, the Entertainment Venue Recovery Act, creates a new live music entertainment venue license to reduce the burden on these venues. Venues must currently conform to the qualifications of a restaurant license — requiring them to install expensive restaurant-grade kitchens — even though many do not fit into that category. The bill will also allow localities to zone for entertainment zones, where cities can allow local businesses to sell both food and alcohol during street fairs and similar locally created events.

Combined with other critical measures, SB 793 will help the hospitality industry bounce back from the devastating impacts of the pandemic, enacting common sense reforms, restructuring outdated laws, and allowing businesses more opportunities to succeed.

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated small businesses — particularly in the hospitality industry. Most music venues have been closed for the entire pandemic. Many hospitality businesses have permanently shut down since March of 2020, having not operated at full capacity, or at all, for so long. We have a responsibility to make it easier for small businesses to bounce back and stay open, and to ease the burden of unnecessarily difficult and antiquated regulations that keep these small businesses from thriving.

SB 793 will make changes to help entertainment venues and other hospitality businesses by:

Creating a new entertainment venue liquor license separate from a regular restaurant license. This new license will be specific to music entertainment venues, removing administrative time and significant infrastructure costs that currently exist when a music venue tries to get a liquor license.

Authorizes cities and counties to create an open container entertainment zone. This change will allow local governments to authorize outdoor festivals, street fairs, and live-music concerts where people can purchase and consume alcohol, including from surrounding businesses. Currently, cities can create open container zones, but brick-and-mortar businesses inside the zone are not allowed to sell alcohol into the street festival.