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Bill could extend last call for alcohol to 4 a.m. in some cities

March 18, 2013 |  6:31 am

Leno
Last call could come a little later in some California cities if one bill becomes law.

State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) has introduced legislation that could extend the last call for alcohol in some California cities until 4 a.m., saying doing so could boost the state's economy by drawing in tourists.

The state's major cities, Leno contends, are at a disadvantage competing with Las Vegas, New York and Miami for tourists who want a lively nightclub scene because of a California law that cuts off alcohol sales at 2 a.m.

"This legislation would allow destination cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego to start local conversations about the possibility of expanding night life and the benefits it could provide the community by boosting jobs, tourism and local tax revenue,'' Leno said.

Currently, the state allows the sale of alcohol from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. for bars, nightclubs and restaurants. Leno's bill would let cities get permission from the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to allow their nightspots to extend their hours for serving alcohol.

Leno cited a study by the market research firm Technomic Inc. that found the top 100 grossing social and night life venues in the country generated $1.5 billion last year and 15 of them were in the Los Angeles area.

But all of the top 10 venues are in cities that have extended hours, including Las Vegas, New York and Miami, the firm found.

Not everyone is sold on the idea.

Leno's proposal is "terrible,'' said Alan Dymond, president of the Studio City Residents Assn. Dymond said many clubs and restaurants along Ventura Boulevard back up to homes affected by noise and traffic at closing time.

"For our members, that extension of hours would just increase the aggravation,'' Dymond said.

Senate Republican leader Robert Huff of Diamond Bar said Leno's proposal raises a lot of questions, including its effect on drunk driving rates, and needs more study.

Some of the same concerns explain the opposition to the idea by Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, according to spokesman Steve Whitmore. People, he said, "don't need to have two more hours for drinking.''

The bill, SB 635, is supported by industry groups, including the California Restaurant Assn. and the San Francisco Council of District Merchants.

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— Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) has introduced a bill that could extend the last call for alcohol in some California cities until 4 a.m. Above, Leno at the Capitol in Sacramento earlier this month. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

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