San Francisco could be a leader in extension of alcohol sales hours

Extending the hours during which alcohol could be sold makes sense in a city like San Francisco, which has a dynamic and diverse nightlife scene that draws people from around the Bay Area, country and world.

But state Sen. Mark Leno’s legislation to allow municipalities to decide whether they want to extend the current alcohol-sales cutoff time from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. instantly created opposing sides and nothing in between.

Summarily discounting or blindly endorsing the proposal is dangerous. Testing its merits is the prudent approach.

Detractors across the state have rolled out a doomsday scenario, saying this would endorse an unhealthy lifestyle, not work in communities lacking late-night public transit, and worsen the effects of demon rum on taxpayer dollars and human lives.

What they fail to note is that the legislation would leave it to individual municipalities to decide whether extended alcohol sales would benefit their economies.

Supporters cite greater entertainment options and a possible jobs boost. But they dismiss the concerns of their detractors at their own expense.

Each California municipality should decide for itself the impacts of such a change, and all sides should have equal say in any rule changes. Maybe start with a few bars and liquor stores, then go from there.

Consider California’s track record of regulating medical marijuana dispensaries. When other cities were struggling with unregulated pot clubs only several years ago, San Francisco developed a comprehensive way to license, tax and monitor its establishments. This is widely regarded as a success.

While medical marijuana regulation is clearly not the same as extended bar hours, it’s safe to say that San Francisco has a history of trying to tackle controversial issues in order to find a meaningful solution.

The best solution for legislators is to allow this bill to go forward. After all, what could be more conservative than directing more regulatory power to the local level?

editorialsOpinionpublic safetySan Francisco

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