Governor Brown will not sign SB 905, a bill approved by both houses of the California State legislature that would have allowed some interested cities like San Francisco, Oakland, and West Hollywood to pass their own legislation extending last call from 2 to 4 a.m.
“Without question these two extra hours will result in more drinking,” the Governor wrote in a letter explaining his decision to veto SB 905. “The business and cities in support of this bill see that as a good source of revenue. The California Highway Patrol, however strongly believes that this increased drinking will lead to more drunk driving.”
SB 905 was the latest — and most promising ever — legislative effort from State Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco to potentially extend last call. “Nightlife is central to the culture and economy of many of our cities,” he said in calling for the legislation, which would allow, but not require, some cities to extend their late night drinking hours.
Three Clubs’ co-owner Marc Smith, is baffled by Brown’s decision. Smith believes there’s something missing in the governor’s statement, and the state and businesses will miss out on extra revenue. “Does he have an alcoholic relative or something?” asks Smith. “I’m shocked that he would go out on something like that. I thought he’d be more progressive. As long as its regulated properly, this should be law.”
Smith adds that there’s a significant difference between last call at 1:30 a.m., and at 3:30 a.m. “At 1 a.m., there’s a sweet spot. The bar gets really busy, there’s a rush for last call, then we kick people out. At 1:30 a.m., they’re amped and excited, and still want to hang out. But by 3:30 a.m., they’re ready to go home.”
Governor Brown saw things differently. “California’s laws regulating late-night drinking have been on the books since 1913,” he writes. “I believe we have enough mischief from midnight to 2 without adding two more hours of mayhem.”
In a statement regarding the veto, Senator Wiener writes that “While I’m disappointed, we aren’t giving up. Cities should be able to decide locally what nightlife makes sense for their communities. I’ll introduce the bill again in 2019. Third time’s a charm!”