California bill would allow West Hollywood, Long Beach, Los Angeles to sell alcohol until 4 a.m.

A new state bill described as a 5-year pilot program would give six cities local control to extend alcohol sales at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants to 4 a.m.

The bill only applies to cities whose mayors have said they support the bill:

  • Long Beach
  • Los Angeles
  • Oakland
  • Sacramento
  • San Francisco
  • West Hollywood

Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who authored the new bill, introduced a similar piece of legislation last year that would have applied to the entire state, but it died in committee.

Wiener is expected to introduce the pilot-program bill by Feb. 16, the deadline for this legislative session.

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Graciela Lopez, right, enjoys a drink with a friend at a space for queer women in West Hollywood. A new state bill described as a 5-year pilot program would give six cities local control to extend alcohol sales at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants to 4 a.m. Photo: Graciela Lopez.

DIFFERENT NIGHTLIFE NEEDS

“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,” Wiener said in a statement. “Nightlife is central to the culture and economy of many of our cities, and they should be empowered to choose to extend alcohol sales hours if it makes sense for that city. This bill offers a nuanced and responsible approach to give cities local control to extend alcohol hours.”

The 5-year pilot program, called the LOCAL Act, which stands for Let Our Communities Adjust Late-Night, does not obligate any business in the six cities to remain open. Instead, it gives bars, nightclubs, and restaurants the option to stay open as late at 4 a.m. Liquor stores are excluded from the bill.

THE PROCESS

The bill would establish a process involving local government and law enforcement, the general public, and the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control to extend the sale hours of alcohol to a specific time between 2 and 4 a.m. in specific areas. Extended alcohol sale hours could be conditioned to include only specific days of the week or certain holidays.

The state’s nightlife and hospitality industry generates billions of dollars and employ more than 1 million Californians, according to a statement from Wiener. 

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About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBT community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBT students.