There is new pressure to allow some cities in California to continue serving alcohol until 4 a.m.
In a city like San Francisco, people expect to be able to stay out late and have fun in bars and clubs and extending last call could help businesses trying to come back from the pandemic.
At Beaux in San Francisco’s Castro District, owner Tim Eicher said staying open later would help his bottom line. They had to close for several months and pivoted during the pandemic. He said business has generally rebounded.
“But there’s a lot of demand because people are ready to move out but at the same time we’ve had so many months without income, where rents are piling up still trying to recover from that,” Eicher said.
On Friday, State Senator Scott Wiener and Assemblyman Matt Haney came to talk about their new legislation. If passed, it would allow seven pilot cities, including Oakland, San Francisco, West Hollywood and Palm Springs, to extend liquor sales until 4 a.m.
They said California’s “one-size-fits-all” 2 a.m. cutoff didn’t work. Wiener introduced similar legislation in 2018, but former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it and said it would simply promote later-night drinking.
“There will be a different reception to the means we need to take to get these companies out of the pandemic,” Haney said.
Mayra Jimenez of the Alcohol Justice watchdog group said a later final appeal was just a dangerous idea.
“Driving under the influence, the reality is that we don’t have the infrastructure to deal with people driving after 2 a.m. on our highways,” she said.
“I take issue with the idea that when you actually finish determines, I also agree with Ben that having staggered closing times has many benefits for public safety,” said Vienna.
Wiener added that the bill would give cities options, including extending hours only on certain nights or certain neighborhoods. He said eligible cities should also work with law enforcement to develop appropriate public safety and transportation strategies.