Senator proposes last call for drinks at 4 a.m.

by Declan Desmond

03_20_13_News_LastCall_ThinkstockBar patrons dreading the words “last call” may have a savior in California Sen. Mark Leno, who proposed legislation that would allow bars and restaurants in California to serve alcohol until 4 a.m.

According to Leno, D-Calif., extending the time for the sale of alcohol past the current 2 a.m. cut-off would stimulate state and local economies.

“This legislation would allow destination cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego to start local conversations about the possibility of expanding nightlife and the benefits it could provide the community by boosting jobs, tourism and local tax revenue,” Leno said.

Making California’s biggest cities more competitive with tourist hotspots like Las Vegas and Chicago—where alcohol is sold after 2 a.m.—is another motivator for Leno. The senator cited research indicating the nation’s top 10 grossing night clubs and social venues were all in cities with extended serving hours, The Los Angeles Times reported.

According to Leno’s website, the proposed bill, SB 635, would give counties the power to submit local plans to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to extend alcohol serving hours past the current cut-off. The easing of restrictions would not apply to liquor stores.

Although the bill is backed by the California Restaurant Association and the California Music and Culture Association, among other organizations, it has been met with some early opposition.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was quoted in The Los Angeles Times, saying people “don’t need to have two more hours for drinking.”

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Robert Huff also voiced concerns that such a change might increase drunk driving.

In large college towns such as, San Diego, the prospect of extended drinking hours raises obvious questions about student safety and conduct.

“I do feel like it would affect student performance in school,” Communications junior Kevin Brown said. “I think 2 a.m. is pretty good where it stands … if people are really interested (in drinking) after 2 a.m., I’m sure they can go back to their houses, apartments, or dorms and continue that way.”

The bill is expected to be heard in Senate policy committees this spring.