Following through on a proposal he made in November, State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) on Thursday introduced a bill that would allow bars in West Hollywood and five other California cities to stay open until 4 a.m.
The “Let Our Communities Adjust Late-night,” or Local Act failed in the legislature last year. That version would have granted all California cities the right to set bar closing hours as late as 4 a.m. Wiener’s new version would limit that right San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, West Hollywood and Long Beach — all of which have endorsed the idea. The West Hollywood City Council endorsed Weiner’s earlier proposal in a four to one vote in April of last year, with Councilmember Lauren Meister opposing extension of the bar hours.
The California Restaurant Association, California Travel Association and the California Hotel & Lodging Association have supported the alcohol serving hours extension. The idea is likely to provoke a debate in West Hollywood, a city that depends heavily on revenue from tourists (the hotel room occupancy tax is the single largest source of revenue to the city’s general fund). West Hollywood is known as a nightlife destination, with its Boystown gay nightlife district on the west side of Santa Monica Boulevard and the many clubs on the Sunset Strip and relatively new ones such as Delilah in the Center City area.
On the other hand, West Hollywood is the city with the most restaurant/bar liquor licenses per capita in all of Los Angeles County. Based on the number of restaurant/bar liquor licenses in 2015, WeHo by the Numbers reports that West Hollywood also ranks No. 1 in all of California in licenses per square mile, with 116. An organization called the Safe WeHo Leadership Council has been formed to develop ways to reduce alcohol-related problems in West Hollywood.
If Wiener’s bill passes and is signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, the West Hollywood City Council will have the right to decide whether to actually extend bar and restaurant drinking hours and on what days and until what hour, with a 4 a.m. limit.