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California Governor Vetoes Bill That Would’ve Allowed 4 a.m. Last Call

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California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed SB 905 on September 28

Bartender squeezing juice from fresh lime in a glass using a citrus press and splashing it out making an alcoholic cocktail
By Maksim Fesenko via Shutterstock

Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the Late Night Bar Bill, or Senate Bill 905 last week on Septmeber 28. SB 905 would have adjusted the last call time to 4 a.m. in the cities of Los Angeles, Long Beach, West Hollywood, Palm Springs, Oakland, and San Francisco.

Governor Brown added comment in a letter to the California Senate, where he shared the reasons for turning down the law:

“Without question, these two extra hours will result in more drinking. The business and cities in support of this bill see that as a good source of revenue. The California Highway Patrol, however strongly believes that this increased drinking will lead to more drunk driving.”

Three Clubs’ co-owner Marc Smith, is baffled by Brown’s decision. Smith believes there’s something missing in the governor’s statement, and the state and businesses will miss out on extra revenue. “Does he have an alcoholic relative or something?” asks Smith. “I’m shocked that he would go out on something like that. I thought he’d be more progressive. As long as its regulated properly, this should be law.”

Smith adds that there’s a significant difference between last call at 1:30 a.m., and at 3:30 a.m. “At 1 a.m., there’s a sweet spot. The bar gets really busy, there’s a rush for last call, then we kick people out. At 1:30 a.m., they’re amped and excited, and still want to hang out. But by 3:30 a.m., they’re ready to go home.”

Jay Krymis co-owns WeHo’s Fubar, the Mezcaleros in Long Beach and Downtown, and Padre in Long Beach. He shares a similar sentiment as Smith’s concerning SB 905:

“(SB 905) was only for a five-year trial period. I can speak from first-hand experience from working at bars in Philly and New Jersey where we’d close at 3 a.m. In a business where the margins are really slim, those extra hours makes a huge difference. It doesn’t mean that people are raging until 4 a.m. Plus, it’ll trickle down. People will have additional dinners later. It won’t just affect bars and clubs, but all industries around nightlife.”

Smith and Krymis believe Brown is short-sighted to point the finger at drunk driving. According to Smith, Three Clubs parking lot is mostly empty, as most of his patrons use a ride share service. “Does (Brown) think California citizens are less responsible?” asks Krymis. “The present 1913 law is dated. Drunk driving is still an issue, but with drunk driving awareness, public campaigns, and ride sharing, it’s less of an problem.”

Krymis and Smith also see another missed opportunity for Los Angeles. Smith sees New York and New Orleans easily managing a late last call for many decades. Krymis says, “Now we can’t compete as a world class city. I thought we’d catch up with New York and Chicago, and finally be on pace.”

This is the third time State Senator Scott Wiener introduced SB 905 for approval, which cleared both state houses earlier this year. Senator Wiener said in a statement that he’ll reintroduce the bill for the third time in 2019, when a new governor is in office.

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