California Senate Bill 905 was passed on Thursday, August 30th by the state Senate 28 to 8, and is now heading to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for approval. If signed, the legislation will launch a five-year test program that will allow nine cities (San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, West Hollywood, Long Beach, Coachella, Cathedral City, and Palm Springs) to push last call from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. At least 15 other states across the U.S. currently allow alcohol sales past 2 a.m.
The author of the bill, State Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, believes that by extending hours, businesses could benefit from extra revenue, and that mean more taxes would be paid into the coffers of the cities and the state on the whole. He said:
“It is a really overdue bill, California right now has a one-size-fits-all approach to last call where every bar, and nightclub, and restaurant in the state has to stop serving at 2 a.m., whether you’re in downtown LA or in a rural area. It makes sense to give our local communities some flexibility.”
The bill provides a great level of flexibility, each city has the final say on which factors will affect the closing times.
Also, the program ends after five years if lawmakers choose not to extend it. The Governor has until September 30 to sign the bill which won’t go into effect until January 2021. Only then will bars in the trial cities be allowed to begin applying for extended licenses.
Several members of the Senate are strongly opposed to the bill, including San Diego Senator Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher. She said in an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune:
“People are there drinking longer and that’s cause for concern,” she said “I understand San Francisco wants it, Los Angeles wants it. But we gotta monitor it closely. I’m looking for a net positive.”
What do you think? Do the benefits of the extension outweigh the risks?