California State Senator Proposes Bill to Extend Last Call in Some Cities

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There's a renewed push to allow some California cities to keep serving alcohol until 4 a.m.

In a city like San Francisco, people expect to be able stay out late and enjoy themselves in bars and clubs and extending last call could help businesses who are trying to come back from the pandemic.

At the Beaux in San Francisco’s Castro District, owner Tim Eicher, said that staying open later would help his bottom line. They had to close for several months and pivoted during the pandemic. He said that business has generally bounced back.

“But there is a lot of demand because people are ready to go out but at the same time, we had so many months without income, where the rent piles still trying to recover from that,” said Eicher.

On Friday, State Senator Scott Wiener and assembly member 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 alcohol sales as late as 4 a.m.

They said California’s "one size, fits all" 2 a.m. cutoff doesn't work. Wiener introduced similar legislation in 2018 but former governor Jerry Brown vetoed it and said it would simply promote more late night drinking.

“There will be a different reception to the ways that we have to step up for these businesses coming out the pandemic,” Haney said.

Mayra Jimenez with the watchdog group Alcohol Justice said a later last call is just a dangerous idea.

“Driving under the influence, the reality is that we don’t have infrastructure to take on folks driving later hours than 2 a.m. on our highways,” she said.

“I dispute the notion, that when you actually end determines, that I also agree with Ben that having staggered closing times has a lot of public safety benefit,” Wiener said.

Wiener added the bill would give cities options, including extending hours only on certain nights or neighborhoods. He said qualifying cities would also need to work with law enforcement to develop appropriate public safety and transportation strategies.

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