California Mulls Extending ‘Last-Call’ to 4 AM, Boosting Night-time Economy Pilot law taking effect in 2025 would allow 7 cities to extend the cut-off point for selling alcohol from 2 to 4 a.m., providing a much-needed boost to small-businesses and nightlife venues struggling to recover from the pandemic.

By Main Street Sentinel Staff

A proposed law in California heralds good news for nightlife venues struggling to recover from the pandemic and for transplants from the “city that never sleeps” who long for a taste of home.

Should it pass into law, Senate Bill 930 launches a pilot program, starting in 2025, allowing venues in seven cities to serve alcohol until 4 a.m., potentially extending ‘last call’ by two hours in San Francisco, Fresno, Oakland, Cathedral City, Palm Springs, Coachella, and West Hollywood.

State Senator Scott Wiener, who authored the law, told the New York Times that “for some of these small-businesses, this could be the difference between being viable and not being viable.” And, in either case, he explained, the law simply gives cities the “flexibility to decide what closing time works for them,” allowing them to manage its implementation as they see fit.

The proposed law is not without its critics, however. Paul Gruenewald, a senior research scientist at the Prevention Research Center of Berkeley, stated that “more alcohol” equaled “more problems.” Analysis from the C.D.C. seemed to support this statement, though its findings have not been updated in over 10 years and are based on studies conducted outside the United States.

While similar laws to update regulations in force since 1913 have been proposed and vetoed in the past, most recently by former Governor Jerry Brown, the tide seems to be turning as Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to support the measure.

For some like David Cooley, owner of the Abbey in West Hollywood, this is good news as many nightlife venues are running out of options for “ways to continue paying…employees and keep doors open.”

Now, if only California could pass laws to keep public transit open till 4 a.m., its cities might finally give New York a run for its money.