WEST HOLLYWOOD — City officials here are supporting a bill in the state Legislature that would allow cities to extend the sale of alcohol at bars, nightclubs and restaurants (but not liquor stores) to as late as 4 a.m.
The new five-year pilot program version of the LOCAL Act, which stands for Let Our Communities Adjust Late-Night, preserves complete local control in terms of decision-making and applies only to six cities whose mayors have expressed interest in the bill.
Joining West Hollywood in supporting the legislation are the mayors of San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, West Hollywood and Long Beach.
Earlier this year, the bill passed the state Senate but was stripped of all its provisions and rendered meaningless in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
The new bill does not automatically extend alcohol sale hours in the six cities. It simply creates the option for the cities to choose to extend hours. As with the previous bill, cities will have significant flexibility and can, for example, limit extended hours only to certain neighborhoods, only to certain nights of the week, or only to a few nights a year.
Local governments still will have to create and approve a plan, which the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control also will have to approve.
The bill also has a five-year sunset clause, which means the effects of allowing later service hours can be evaluated and then renewed or discontinued after five years.
“California is a diverse state with cities and neighborhoods that have different needs for nightlife, and we shouldn’t have a one-size-fits-all closing time,” said Sen. Scott Wiener, who introduced the bill. “Last year we had huge support for extending hours for bars and restaurants, and this renewed effort builds on that support.”
“Nightlife is an important part of West Hollywood, particularly for the LGBT community,” Mayor John Heilman said. “Cities like ours have a history of supporting a vibrant nightlife that celebrates our culture and grows our local economy. Expanding access to nightlife is a great idea and we can do so in a responsible, tailored way.”
“Cities should be able to choose for themselves whether extending nightlife hours would make sense for a community,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “This bill would give us the tools to look more closely at what is best for public safety and our economy and to make those decisions at the local level.”
When the Legislature reconvenes in January, Wiener will introduce the new bill that will contain the same provisions as the previous effort, except it will only allow eligibility in the six cities whose mayors have expressed support for the bill.
Those cities would still have to go through a public process, including developing a public safety and transportation plan, before extending alcohol sales hours passed 2 a.m. The bill applies to bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, not liquor stores.