Citizens of the night surely will rejoice at a California senator's proposal to allow cities like Los Angeles to extend last call from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. Unfortunately, it appears that citizens of the night don't vote in great enough numbers to prevent the forces of temperance from blocking this bill.
A similar bill by Sen. Mark Leno was shot down in 2013 by the Senate Committee on Governmental Organization. Groups opposed to it included Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). And once again the organization is saying this isn't the best path for the Golden State.
"MADD supports uniform closing times for establishments that serve alcohol to avoid creating the dangerous possibility that patrons will bar-hop for that one last drink — a dangerous scenario that all too often increases the risk of drunk driving," national spokeswoman for the group, Becky Iannotta, said via email.
Sen. Scott Wiener's recent bill, the Let Our Communities Adjust Late Night Act, would allow municipalities to extend serving hours with the approval of the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Cities could, if they wished, extend hours only on certain days of the week or only on specified holidays, according to the bill. They also could limit the hours to "specific areas" of town.
Wiener argues that those two extra hours could provide a lot of extra business for the state's multibillion-dollar hospitality industry. Wiener notes that New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Miami, Las Vegas and New Orleans are among the major U.S. cities that allow drinking later than 2 a.m.
The bill is backed by the California Restaurant Association and the California Music & Culture Association, among other groups. The music and culture group's co-chair, Ben Bleiman, said in a statement, "Nightlife is a major economic and cultural driver in California."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
"This bill represents a crucial opportunity for California’s cities and towns to choose to join the ranks of those across the country and the world offering truly world-class nightlife for their residents and visitors," he said.
Although Wiener is a San Francisco Democrat, the nightlife industry in the state's largest city would stand to gain the most from two more hours of alcohol sales. The question is whether that extra booze would imperil people on the streets so early in the morning.
When Sen. Leno tried this in 2013, the group Taxpayers for Improving Public Safety suggested that staggering bar closing times was a better policy than dumping drunks on the streets at 2 a.m.: Police, public transportation, taxis and ride-hailing apps wouldn't be simultaneously slammed.
Wiener said in a statement that his law would allow cities to "benefit economically and culturally from a strong nightlife presence."