Bars, clubs and restaurants throughout California could serve alcohol until 4 a.m. instead of the current 2 a.m. if a bill proposed by State Senator Mark Leno passes later this year.
The law would “provide an opportunity for cities,” Leno says, to expand social and tourism offerings, increase local tax revenue and create jobs.
But the measure has raised a few eyebrows among community activists in the Mission District.
“It will put additional pressure on the neighborhoods in San Francisco, no question about the Mission as well,” says longtime Mission business advocate Philip Lesser.
“On 24th [Street], restaurants are closing between 8 and 9 p.m. and bars until 2 a.m.,” says Erick Arguello, president of the Lower 24th Street Merchants and Neighbors Association. “I think this is a good agreement to maintain the balance between neighbors and merchants. To have bars and restaurants opened until later in the morning may disturb the area.”
Like many neighborhoods in cities around the world, the Mission is undergoing rapid gentrification. Longtime Mission residents are trying to protect the character of the neighborhood and avoid rising rents while remaining open to some changes and newcomers.
It’s “a kind of a controversial hour that we are living [in],” says Lesser. “People who are residents see anything that increases intensification of nonresidential use as a potential disturbance.”
Months of debate and discussion are expected before the bill is voted on by the legislature. A first public hearing is scheduled for April 9, and the legislation may go through changes before coming up for a vote, possibly in September.
If the bill passes, cities and counties would have to create plans to be approved by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, according to Leno’s staff.
“Community concerns would be heard when the city decides to make a plan,” Leno says. “There’s no certainty that the Mission would be part of it.”
“Sacramento [is not] dictating anything,” he adds.
The proposal is expected to bring financial benefits to cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, but it has raised many questions about security and transportation pressures that might result from a 4 a.m. “last call for alcohol.”