State Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco wants bars to stay open until the wee hours of the morning: 4 a.m. to be exact. His revived bill, SB 930, aims to provide a financial boost to California’s pandemic-hit nightlife industry.
The legislation, first proposed Feb. 7, would extend liquor sales in bars, nightclubs and restaurants to two hours past the state’s 2 a.m. limit in seven California cities, including San Francisco. . Wiener is sponsoring the bill in partnership with Assemblyman Matt Haney, a longtime supporter of SF disco, to increase revenue for small businesses, according to their joint press release.
“Many bars and venues are still facing mountains of debt as a result of the past few years,” Wiener said in the statement. “Although we are 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 all the tools we can to help them survive, including allowing them to stay open until 4am. Nightlife is at the heart of who we are as a state, and our world-class bars and nightclubs deserve a fighting chance.
But some bar owners in The City question the logic of the two-hour extension. At the San Francisco Entertainment and Nightlife Summit in June and on social media, many nightlife entrepreneurs threw their support behind the SB 930. Others, like Peter Athanas, owner of the Kilowatt Bar in the Mission District, say there is no appetite for late opening hours. .
“They keep saying this is going to make people bounce back from the pandemic, but that’s hogwash,” Athanas said. “There are fewer people and more people have gotten used to staying at home. Every time there’s a negative story about COVID, people think, “I could stay home.” I don’t need to go out. We are nowhere back (to normal). »
That’s the purpose of the bill, supporters argue. If residents and visitors to California cities had the opportunity to go out later like their New York and Chicago peers, perhaps more of them would extend their evenings, as well as their spending.
Now in its fourth iteration since Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the bill in 2018, the current liquor control law amendment appears to have a chance of becoming law. It passed the Senate and went through the Assembly Government Organizing Committee this spring. When the Legislative Assembly reconvenes on August 1, the Assembly Appropriations Committee will consider the bill again.
Chris Hastings, owner of the Lookout bar in Duboce Triangle, is all about supporting workers in the service and nightlife industry.
“San Francisco is a world-class city with less than world-class nightlife. This could go a long way toward addressing that,” he said. “It would allow venues to hire better talent, bring in people from better communities. I think in general it would elevate the nightlife.
Each of the proposed participating cities — Cathedral City, Coachella, Fresno, Oakland, Palm Springs, West Hollywood and San Francisco — will have autonomy over which bars are approved and in which areas, Wiener told The Examiner.
Athanas of Kilowatt Bar expressed concerns about crime in the early hours of the morning. To opt in to extended nightlife hours, SB 930 requires municipalities to submit safety and public transportation mitigation plans. Haney sees this as a potential boon for urban planning.
“Hopefully jurisdictions will take advantage of this to increase their nighttime transportation options in particular,” Haney said. “We should have more access to buses and BART later at night, so people can get to where they’re going without driving… We could tie some of the revenue that (the program) would generate to public transportation. additional common late at night.
Weiner said that between community input and the processing of permits, implementing the bill, if passed, would take at least two years.
“We’re right on Haight and Clayton, so it wouldn’t be for local establishments like mine,” said Chris Dickerson of Hobson’s Choice. “But if it’s one of the clubs in SOMA where they don’t have (a lot of neighbours) to bother, I’m all for it. Why not let them make some more money? Makes perfect sense, but not for me; I have four apartments just above.
Haney pointed to areas like the Castro and other nightlife districts, many of which have venues already staying open later through various permits, when discussing where SB 930 could help small businesses. to thrive.
“There are a lot of hurdles in front of this industry, not just at the city and county level (at the level) but at the state level,” Haney said at the nightlife industry summit on last month. “We are going to pass (SB 930) this year. … The people of this state have realized how essential you are to their lives and their communities.
Athanas said the only real solution for San Francisco’s declining nightlife is time — time for people to feel comfortable in groups again and time for scientists to figure out just how much damage of the virus are really serious in the long term.
Wiener agrees that time is an important factor, which could partner with his bill to get his law degree.
“San Francisco is coming back, but it still takes time. Bars and nightclubs are overwhelmingly small businesses, and while some have closed, others have survived and are holding on by their nails,” he said. “We think it’s a timely step.”