Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill on September 28 that would have extended alcohol sales hours to 4 a.m. in nine California cities, including Long Beach, via a pilot program.
“California’s laws regulating late night drinking have been on the books since 1913,” Brown stated in an announcement about the veto. “I believe we have enough mischief from midnight to 2 [a.m.] without adding two more hours of mayhem.”
Senate Bill (SB) 905 would have allowed nine cities to adopt a five-year pilot program, which would have been a test for permanently extending hours for alcohol sales. Cities besides Long Beach that would have been eligible to adopt the pilot program included Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Coachella, Cathedral City, Palm Springs, Oakland, San Francisco and Sacramento.
Brown stated that certain California businesses and cities saw the opportunity for SB 905 to create a source of revenue. Yet, the California Highway Patrol believed the bill would have increased the number of drunk drivers.
Alcohol Justice, a nonprofit group and self-proclaimed “industry watchdog,” has advocated for Brown to veto the bill since it was introduced to the state legislature. The group expressed their gratitude for Brown’s decision to veto the bill in a statement.
Michael Scippa, public affairs director for Alcohol Justice, believed the five-year test would not have qualified as a proper pilot program. “A true, scientifically designed ‘pilot project’ would cover only a small sample, not over 76% of the state’s population,” he stated. “Virtually the entire state would have been exposed to additional alcohol-related harms if Governor Brown had not vetoed the bill.”
Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell of the 70th District, which includes most of Long Beach, voted against SB 905. He also agreed with the decision to veto the bill. “The bill was, what we call in Sacramento, ‘veto-bait’ all along because the governor, like myself and others, recognized that this bill would have had significant public safety impacts across the State of California if it were to be signed into law,” he said.
Mayor Robert Garcia told the Business Journal in April that he thought the opportunity for extended hours of alcohol sales could create more jobs and increase the city’s tax base, which would then be reinvested back into the community. Yet, he stressed that the pilot program would have to be controlled in order provide responsible entertainment in the downtown area.
Principal author of the bill, State Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, announced in a statement on September 28 that he would introduce the bill again next year in order for cities to decide locally what nightlife works best for their communities. “Our 2 a.m. blanket closing time is a bad leftover policy from over a century ago,” he stated. “It is a shame that we will continue to stifle our nightlife economy, but I remain committed to modernizing these outdated laws.”