LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – An effort to allow California bars to extend last call to 4 a.m. continues to generate controversy on both sides, as a vote looms on the issue in the California Assembly.
California Senate Bill 384, known as the LOCAL Act, was authored by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). It would allow California communities to individually decide whether to extend alcohol sales at bars, nightclubs and restaurants passed 2 a.m. The extended hours would not apply to liquor stores.
Currently, 20 cities — including New York, Miami and Las Vegas — allow alcohol sales past 2 a.m. The state Senate has already passed SB-384, which is now before the Assembly. A vote is expected to take place within the next few weeks.
Weiner was joined by several local politicians and business owners at a news conference Friday morning in the Broadway Theater District to try and drum up support for the bill.
“This bill, fundamentally, is about local control,” Weiner said. “No community would be forced to allow their bars and nightclubs to go past 2 a.m. Every community will be able to decide for itself.”
Proponents argue it would invigorate night life, and, in turn, business.
“People could choose to stay later in downtown restaurants and venues,” said Jessica Lalla, president of the Central City Association. “There would be more jobs, more local revenue, and more chances for downtown businesses to thrive.”
“If you’re going to the Oscars, the Emmys, the Grammys, you’re probably going to be ending up in West Hollywood,” said David Cooley, owner of The Chapel At the Abbey bar. “And when you say you have to go home at 2 o’clock, they just want to celebrate a little bit more.”
Opponents argue the passage of the bill would lead to more drunk driving crashes, emergency room admissions and alcohol-related assaults and injuries. Last month, dozens of people held a rally against the bill outside Los Angeles City Hall. One of those people, Sonny Skyhawk, saw his granddaughter killed by a drunken driver when she was 21.
“People that are going to work at 4 o’clock in the morning are going to encounter, unfortunately, these people that are just leaving those bars and are intoxicated,” Skyhawk told CBS2 back in June.
The California Restaurant Association, California Travel Association and the California Hotel & Lodging Association are among those that support the bill.
Alcohol Justice, the California Alcohol Policy Alliance, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Los Angeles Drug and Alcohol Policy Alliance are among those against it.