An apparently divided Public Safety Commission last night voted to ask the West Hollywood City Council to take a stand against a California assembly bill that would allow WeHo and five other cities to extend alcohol sales and serving hours to 4 a.m.
The bill was introduced in January by State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). If passed and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, it would allow West Hollywood, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Long Beach to extend alcohol serving hours from the current 2 a.m. limit to 4 a.m. All six of those cities have endorsed the extension. The West Hollywood City Council endorsed an earlier and unsuccessful version of Wiener’s bill in April 2017 in a four to one vote, with Councilmember Lauren Meister voting against it.
Public Safety Commissioner Robert Oliver introduced the motion last night asking the City Council to take a stand against Wiener’s bill.
Oliver disputed the argument that extended hours only will affect the six cities named in Wiener’s bill, each of which will individually decide whether or not to implement the extended hours. He noted that many of those at WeHo’s bars and clubs live elsewhere, and there is a risk of them driving long distances while inebriated.
Oliver also said that comparing West Hollywood to cities such as Las Vegas and New York City, which permit alcohol sales until 4 a.m., didn’t make sense because most New Yorkers use public transit, and Las Vegas partiers are likely to be staying nearby on the Strip.
“I hope it’s not a done deal that our city will support this,” Oliver said. “I think we can oppose the legislation itself and then, if it passes, consider whether to adopt the change in our city.”
Commission Chairwoman Ruth Williams said she agreed “100 percent” with Oliver. Williams said the extended drinking hours might lure people from afar to drink in West Hollywood, increasing the possibility of crime here.
Capt. Sergio Aloma of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station said the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department has a representative in Sacramento lobbying against Wiener’s proposal.
“I don’t think that we should fool ourselves in thinking that local impact is going to be contained in the City of West Hollywood,” Aloma said. “Two hours of additional drinking certainly is going to have impact on cities outside West Hollywood. I also think it’s going to impact our local trauma centers …
“We’re going to absolutely have to rethink our staffing model and our deployment of deputy service. At 4 a.m., we don’t have the same staffing we have at midnight or two a.m.”
Aloma also noted that sexual and other violent assaults occur at local bars and clubs and that extended drinking hours might increase those incidents.
Oliver’s motion passed a four-to-two vote, with commissioners Desiree Sol and Amanda Laflen abstaining. Neither explained why she didn’t vote. Voting for the bill were Oliver, Williams and commissioners Jeffrey Waack and Marcy Norton. Commissioner Tory Berger was absent.