Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz introduced a motion Wednesday asking the council to oppose a bill in the state Legislature that would allow bars in seven cities — including West Hollywood — to stay open until 4 a.m., citing concerns over a potential increase in drunk driving and alcohol-related deaths.
Senate Bill 930, introduced by Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, would authorize a pilot program extending the hours that bars, restaurants, taverns and nightclubs in the select cities can sell alcohol from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. The other cities are: Cathedral City, San Francisco, Oakland, Fresno, Coachella and Palm Springs.
In a news conference Wednesday, Koretz called the proposed legislation a “deadly excuse for a business growth bill that does more to threaten the innocent public than helping a few bars increase their nightly revenue.”
Though the extended drinking hours would occur in West Hollywood, Koretz believes that drivers would end up crossing through his West Los Angeles district after 2 a.m. and then return to Los Angeles in the early morning hours.
“Some will drive right up to the early birds who are driving to work or taking their kids to a far-out school, and aren’t used to interacting with drunk drivers,” Koretz said.
The West Hollywood City Council voted 3-2 last month to allow the city to take part in the pilot program.
“Many of us have explored and exhausted our options for innovative ways to continue paying our employees and keep doors open,” David Cooley, the owner of a West Hollywood bar, said to the Los Angeles Times in an email.
Cooley added that the program would be good for the hospitality industry and allow for more tax revenue that the city could allocate to community services such as public safety.
There have been numerous unsuccessful attempts since the early 2000s to extend alcohol service hours in California.
In 2018, then-Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill that would have applied to Los Angeles, Long Beach, West Hollywood, Palm Springs, Oakland and San Francisco, citing the potential increase in drunk driving.
“California’s laws regulating late night drinking have been on the books since 1913,” Brown wrote in a letter to the legislature at the time. “I believe we have enough mischief from midnight to 2 without adding two more hours of mayhem.”
Koretz believes that Los Angeles and neighboring cities will bear most of the impact if the bill passes.
SB 930 is set to appear before the state Assembly Appropriations Committee next week.
“I’m letting my colleagues know we can’t get fatigued now and give up after years of fighting,” Koretz said. “This bill is built to be fast- tracked and Jerry Brown isn’t there to stop it this time.”