In 2016, California State Senator Scott Wiener introduced the LOCAL Act up in Sacramento, with the aim of giving local communities the ability (and choice) to regulate when establishments such as bars and restaurants would close, possibly upping the last call timing from 2am to 4am. Ultimately the bill failed to make it out of committee, although it received a lot of support and media attention before it was ultimately turned down.
But Wiener’s battle isn’t over just yet. He has now introduced the idea of a scaled-back “pilot” program version of the original LOCAL Act with the intention of focusing on a few statewide municipalities to gauge consumer interest and iron out any issues as they arise. And, as it goes, three of those chosen locations are in Southern California.
According to a post by Wiener on medium.com and a related press conference, the Northern California senator wants the focus of this pilot to be in key major areas including San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Long Beach, and West Hollywood. The choice is obvious, considering these communities represent the largest concentration of statewide nightlife as well as population. Moreover, the move seems to be a smart one as the more targeted approach has earned support from each city’s mayor.
The new legislation and pilot aims to offer each city the opportunity to run the program for just five years, after which an evaluation will take place to examine whether the initiative should expand to the entire state.
Wiener was quick to clarify:
To be clear, this bill will not automatically extend alcohol sales hours in bars, nightclubs, and restaurants in these cities. Rather, it will simply create local control by allowing locally elected officials (i.e. the city council or Board of Supervisors) in the six cities to deliberate and decide if it makes sense to extend hours.
What does this mean? Simply put each of the targeted areas for the pilot can make their own choices on whether to extent the hours, to only change them for a few nights of the year, or perhaps to only introduce the changes to specific areas of their city or even to compromise by allowing last calls to move to 3am instead of the possible 4am limit.
Ultimately, Wiener’s approach is one we are behind, especially when you factor in the simple reasoning behind it: we need to destigmatise nightlife while returning control to those who live and serve in the affected communities.
As reported by the LA Eater, Wiener and his supporters are hoping the bill can be introduced in January of 2018.