The extended hours of alcohol sales would only apply to some Coachella Valley cities

SACRAMENTO – Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, and Assemblymember Matt Haney, D-San Francisco, have co-authored legislation to allow – but not require – seven pilot cities three of which are in the Coachella Valley, to extend sales of alcohol at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants (but not liquor stores) to as late as 4 a.m.

SB 930 preserves complete local control in terms of decision-making and applies only to the seven cities whose mayors or City Councils have expressed interest in pursuing later hours: San Francisco, Oakland, West Hollywood, Coachella, Cathedral City, Fresno, and Palm Springs.

Alcohol Sales at Bars Could be Extended to 4 a.m.

Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia

The idea has the initial support of mayors in Cathedral City, Coachella and Palm Springs and Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia.

“As long as we can work with public safety to ensure strong safety measures are in place, this pilot program offers additional economic enhancement opportunities for Coachella Valley businesses,” Garcia said. “Communities like ours that rely heavily on tourism remain disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and we must continue looking for ways to support small businesses and boost economic recovery.”

Alcohol Sales at Bars Could be Extended to 4 a.m.

Mayor Ernesto Gutierrez

Cathedral City Mayor Ernesto Gutierrez told Uken Report that he supports the legislation — at least on a trial basis.

“I’m for it,” Gutierrez said. “It will benefit the casino the most. That’s our biggest entertainment venue.”

Agua Caliente Casino Cathedral City opened its doors to the public just before Thanksgiving in 2020.

Most restaurants in Cathedral City close at 11 p.m. so Gutierrez said he does not see much benefit for them.

Alcohol Sales at Bars Could be Extended to 4 a.m.

Mayor Steven Hernandez

Coachella Mayor Steve Hernandez also supports the legislation.

“For a few years now, we have been working to extend the hours of operation,” Hernandez told Uken Report. “One, we know people binge drink trying to finish off their last drink(s) before closing.  There is a safety consideration. And two, the extended hours will help our local businesses.”

SB 930 will help struggling bars, restaurants and nightclubs – particularly those that serve marginalized communities like the LGBTQ community – bounce back from the pandemic and help reinvigorate our cities. Many hospitality businesses suffered greatly because of the pandemic and have not fully bounced back since March 2020. SB 930 will support nightlife, culture, music, tourism, small businesses, and middle-class jobs, according to Weiner.

Wiener has previously introduced similar legislation. In 2018, then-Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the legislation.

Alcohol Sales at Bars Could be Extended to 4 a.m.

Mayor Lisa Middleton

“City Council supports inclusion of Palm Springs as one of the pilot cities in Senator Weiner’s legislation that would allow limited 4 a.m. closing alcohol sales,” Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton said. “The legislation has not passed and has yet to be considered by the Governor. Should it become law I would look forward to our review of specific applications for 4 a.m. closings, the safety plan of such applications and the PSPD assessment of such plans. It is very premature to assume approval or speculate regarding any specific or potential application. “

The proposed legislation passed the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization by a vote of 12-3. It will now head to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

“Many bars and venues are still facing mountains of debt as a result of the last few years,” Wiener said in a prepared statement. “Although we’re now in a very different phase of the pandemic and the bars that survived are open at full capacity, many of these small businesses are still struggling. We need to give them every possible tool to help them survive – including allowing them to stay open until 4 a.m. Nightlife is a core part of who we are as a state, and our world-class bars and nightclubs deserve a fighting chance.”

Each pilot city will decide for itself whether to remain at California’s blanket 2 a.m. closing time or extend later. Cities that choose to extend hours will have to go through a community outreach process, work with law enforcement agencies, and formulate public safety and transportation plans.

SB 930 does not automatically extend alcohol sale hours in these seven cities – it simply creates the option for the cities to choose to extend hours or to stick with the current 2 a.m. closing time. Cities will have significant flexibility and can, for example, limit extended hours only to certain neighborhoods or streets, only to certain nights of the week, or only to a few nights a year. Local governments still will have to create and approve a plan, reviewed by Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), to allow for later service hours with full community input. Each extended hours permit will also have to go through normal ABC review, with full public notice.

The bill has a five-year sunset, which means the results of allowing later service hours can be evaluated and then renewed or discontinued after five years.

In addition to Wiener and Haney, SB 930 is co-authored by Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles). The City and County of San Francisco is supporting SB 930.


Image Sources

  • Ernesto Gutierrez: City of Cathedral City
  • Mayor Steven Hernandez: City of Coachella
  • Cheers: Pexels