State Senator Scott Wiener's bill that would allow cities to decide if bars and clubs may serve alcohol past the current 2 a.m. statewide last call has passed a first test: The Senate Public Safety Committee approved the bill in what Wiener calls a "huge step forward."
Wiener introduced the legislation last month, criticizing the "one-size-fits-all" state approach for small towns and big cities alike. Covering the bill, which Wiener is calling "Let Our Communities Adjust Late Night Act" (LOCAL), the Los Angeles Times presented the case for the later last call as a potential "answer for safer nightlife."
That argument even invoked Oakland's Ghost Ship fire, which feels like an unfortunate stretch. Still, it's a strong counterargument to the typical safety concerns voiced about nightlife — usually the talk is reflexively critical or negative.
"For years, nightlife was approached as a problem to be managed, but we’ve worked hard to change that narrative,” Wiener tells the LA Times. But he argues it's actually a booming industry waiting to be further tapped. “It’s a $6-billion industry in San Francisco, and the nighttime economy supports hundreds of thousands of jobs that are accessible to people without a college degree. We should embrace that."
Wiener also made a cultural argument for nightlife: “Nightlife plays a critical role in what makes cities unique,” he told the paper “Especially for LGBT people, nightlife helped us find our community. It matters a lot.”
The bill, SB 384, closely resembles one presented — and doomed — four years ago by another state senator from San Francisco, Mark Leno. But, as Wiener's office points out in a press release, "the committee's action today represents the first time a committee of the California Legislature has ever approved this bill." All seven members of the committee lent it their support.