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Wiener’s late-night bar bill ‘gutted’ by Assembly committee

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Senate Bill 384 proposed allowing local governments to decide whether to extended alcohol service hours as late as 4 a.m. (Emma Chiang/Special to SF Weekly)

Frequent bar-goers should take a shot if they saw this one coming.

A California Assembly committee Friday stalled a bill by State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, that would allow communities to lengthen hours that bars can to stay open to 4 a.m.

The Assembly Appropriations Committee replaced the bill’s language. Instead of allowing localities to choose to extend bar hours, it now calls for a task force to study the issue.

Wiener’s office said this essentially “gutted” the bill, and decried the move.

“There’s no need to study anything,” Wiener said in a statement. “There’s nothing radical about letting local communities decide for themselves whether to let their bars and nightclubs go later.”
Senate Bill 384, known as the “LOCAL Act,” or Let Our Communities Adjust Late Night, would allow local governments to extend alcohol service hours to a time between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. with the authorization of the state Department of Alcohol Beverage Control.
Some opponents, however, decried the bill as dangerous.

The California Alcohol Policy Alliance launched a statewide campaign against Wiener’s bill, arguing it would lead to more frequent drunk driving.

However, the bill also had major endorsers, including the Los Angeles Times, whose editorial board wrote that the law cutting bars off at 2 a.m was anachronistic, an 80-year-old relic with no basis in scientific fact.

Wiener, for his part, said he would keep pushing to pass his bill as it was originally intended.

“It’s embarrassing that California shuts down its nightlife so early,” he said. “We’re not going to give up. Nightlife matters to our economy and culture, and California’s one-size-fits-all approach to closing time needs to be reformed.”

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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