LA bars could stay open longer if new state bill is approved

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Good news for night owls and surly East Coasters: A new bill making its way through the state legislature would give towns across California the ability to extend bar hours to 4:00 a.m.

Right now, 2:00 a.m. is last call time throughout the state, but a bill proposed by State Senator Scott Wiener seeks to give individual communities more leeway to set hours as they see fit. This week, the bill cleared the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee and faces one more committee before going before the full assembly (it’s already been approved in the senate).

“Nightlife plays a huge role in our culture and economy,” Wiener said in a statement issued Wednesday. “California is a large and diverse state, and this bill recognizes that a one-size-fits-all approach to nightlife doesn’t make sense.”

Known as the LOCAL (Let Our Communities Adjust Late Night) Act, the bill would apply to restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, but not liquor stores. Not surprisingly, it has enjoyed the support of trade groups representing bar and restaurant owners, as well as local organizations like the Los Angeles and West Hollywood Chambers of Commerce.

Ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft have also expressed support for the bill, which would presumably give bar patrons in some cities a little more time to realize they need a designated driver.

Some anti-drunk driving activists have been less enthusiastic. Last week, protestors gathered outside LA City Hall to oppose the bill, arguing it would lead to more drunk drivers being on the road at times when many begin their early morning commutes.

The bill was co-authored by several Southern California legislators, including Assemblymembers Matt Dababneh and Miguel Santiago, who represent Encino and eastern Los Angeles, respectively. State Senator Ben Allen, who represents Santa Monica, is also a co-author.

The participation of so many officials representing the LA area suggests that communities in the region could be quick to extend bar hours if the bill should become law.

It’s unclear what kind of infrastructure demands longer lasting nightlife would place on the city, but it’s probably worth noting that the last Metro trains currently roll out of Downtown LA a little after 2:00 a.m.

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