Late-night boozebags will be raising a toast to State Sen. Scott Wiener this week, as his proposal to move last call for alcohol to as late as 4 a.m. has successfully passed the California Senate Appropriations Committee. The Let Our Communities Adjust Late Night Act, acronymized as LOCAL, was approved by the Senate Public Safety Committee in late March and according to a release from Wiener’s office will now be voted on by the full State Senate this week “with the deadline for passage being June 2."
The possibility of being able to serve drinks until 4 a.m. has been pushed for by many in San Francisco's nightlife community for years believing, probably rightly, that the nightlife scene suffers because of it, especially in the age of Uber and Lyft when most people aren't risking DUIs to get themselves home after a night at the clubs.
The passage of this proposal through committee does not move last call to 4 a.m., and even passage of the bill would not guarantee late-night alcohol service. Even if the full state senate, the full assembly, and Governor Brown approve this bill — and none of them have yet — the bill would merely give California municipalities (or counties, in unincorporated areas) the option of moving back the alcohol cut-off at bars and stores until as late as 4 a.m.
“The state of California has a one-size-fits-all approach,” Sen. Wiener told SF Weekly shortly after introducing the bill in February. “Every single community, every single venue in California must stop serving liquor at 2 a.m., from the Oregon border to the Mexican border. It just doesn’t make sense.”
“Communities can decide for themselves what makes sense in terms of alcohol service hours,” he added. “For some communities, it makes sense to stick with 2 a.m. For other communities, it may make sense to extend it to 3 a.m. or 4 a.m., or a few venues, or in a certain part of the city.”
The bill faces opposition from a handful of law enforcement groups, and an alcohol industry watchdog group called Alcohol Justice who helped defeat a similar proposal in 2013. “This is a bad idea because nothing good happens after 2 a.m. at bars and restaurants where alcohol is served,” Alcohol Justice executive director Bruce Lee Livingston told the Weekly.
That 2013 defeat of essentially this exact same bill (the previous version was authored by then-State Senator Mark Leno) was driven by DUI concerns, as opponents worried the geographically different last call times would foster more late-night drunk driving. We’ll see whether that concern sobers the legislature again this time, as the state Senate votes on the measure between now and Friday. If passed, it would go before the Assembly for approval, and then to Governor Brown for consideration.
Related: Best Post-2 A.M. Eats In San Francisco