Restaurants, bars and nightclubs in California would be able to serve alcohol for two additional hours – until 4 a.m. – under a bill that has been proposed at the Capitol.
The measure, SB635 by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, would allow cities and counties to petition state alcohol regulators to receive permission for the extended service and Leno said the bill would help California cities compete for tourism dollars that are lost to other cities that serve alcohol past 2 a.m.
“The bill offers cities an opportunity to create jobs, expand business and increase tax revenue,” Leno said. “It imposes nothing on anybody; it merely authorizes the opportunity.”
Leno said that he expects that, if the bill becomes law, cities like San Francisco would have a limited number of establishments that would be part of the extended service, including nightclubs, restaurants or other entertainment venues that already stay open past 2 a.m.
“This is not about your corner bar or the pub in the neighborhood,” he said.
Under the proposal, city or county officials would make a request to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control for extended service and that request would include the scope of establishments that would be covered. The state department would make the final decision on whether to grant the request.
The proposal is likely to raise concerns about bar patrons driving after drinking. Leno noted that many other cities serve alcohol until 4 a.m. and he said he has seen no evidence of increased incidents of alcohol-related traffic deaths in those areas, but he said he expects some opposition to the proposal based on public safety concerns.
Such a change could also affect demand for public transportation service, as more people would probably be taking buses later. BART ends its service about midnight daily, but starts running at 4 a.m. on weekdays. Weekend service begins at 6 a.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m. on Sundays.
It’s not clear how much of an economic boost would be created by allowing two additional hours of alcohol service, but doing so would help to create a new nightlife economy, said Rob Black, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association in San Francisco.
“I think a lot of people find when they come to San Francisco that it goes to sleep early,” Black said. “Our perspective is that it’s more of allowing, or creating, an opportunity where restaurants that have bar service would have a much better ability to be economically viable later in the evening.”
He said he thinks more high-end restaurants would offer late food service whereas current options for late-night eating consist mostly of fast food.
Jim Lazarus, senior vice president for public policy at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, said that group is looking at the proposal but has not taken a position. He said a booming population of young people in the city driven by tech companies is creating a demand for late-night options.
“I think it’s got to be looked at. People’s work habits are different. Their entertainment needs are different,” Lazarus said.
At the Tempest, a bar in San Francisco’s South of Market district, owner Joey Christensen said late-night service would undoubtedly boost the bar’s bottom line.
Christensen said the Tempest gets a late-night rush of people in the service industry coming in for a drink after they get off work and before last call.
“On Friday nights, I’m kicking out 50 people at last call,” he said. “For me and for our bar, it would benefit us.”
Source: SF Gate