Jack Shea
Staff Writer

California senator Scott Weiner is pushing for late-night California restaurant and nightclub sales with a new bill: the Let Our Communities Adjust Late Night Act (LOCAL).

In a press release, Weiner’s office stated that the bill will allow, “but does not require, local governments to extend hours of alcohol service beyond 2 a.m. and up until 4 a.m., limited to areas zoned for late-night entertainment.”

LOCAL, coined by supporters of the bill, is drawing the attention of businesses, safety enforcement officials, and communities across the state of California, especially in its major cities.

In an interview with KPCC LA, president and chief executive of the Central City Association Jessica Lall said, “Nightlife is a major economic driver for downtown [Los Angeles] providing jobs and enlivening the city’s core, and it also encourages more people and businesses to come down.”

She continued by arguing that LOCAL works to “give communities local control [and] increase education and outreach efforts” to utilize safe transportation, such as rideshare applications and taxis.

Businesses and downtown communities across the state are stoked. However, University of Southern California professor Steven Sussman encourages caution.

“In terms of the cost-benefit analysis, we gotta look at those countries [where alcohol laws go well-over 2:00 a.m.] and where they’re ‘successfully implementing these things.’ There are some deficits. If there is a risk of people [drunk] driving at 4:00 a.m., educational campaigns are not going to do it for everybody,” he said on the KPCC news station.

Smaller cities and towns across the Golden State are reacting differently. This is seen in Santa Barbara’s lack of interest. Home to diverse local wines and a lively nightlife, Santa Barbara holds onto its beach town vibe with strict noise ordinances, influencing the culture and style of alcohol sales.

Megan, a head server at Tupelo Junction Cafe on State Street who declined to give her last name, said, “I don’t think it will impact Santa Barbara culture that much. I’m sure all the late night restaurants will be happy they can serve alcohol later, but I don’t think it would affect their hours.”

Santa Barbara restaurants and clubs are more about the experience and culture of Santa Barbara rather than having the longest hours or partying all night long. They are very different venues than, for example, downtown Los Angeles’ and may not express any interest at all. The same can be said throughout the entire Santa Barbara area. Isla Vista’s close residence to the University of California, Santa Barbara suggests little likelihood of a plan needed to change its alcohol sales.

“In general, I don’t think it’s a good idea to drink that late. For profit-wise, I don’t know if it works or not,” said Fumait Sato, manager at Arigato Sushi on State Street. Other downtown Santa Barbara and Isla Vista restaurants and liquor stores declined to comment.

Maybe LOCAL misses out on Santa Barbara’s interest, but San Francisco businesses and hospitality groups are forming coalitions in support of the new bill. The type of energy it seems to be generating suggests California might be seeing nightlife changes coming soon for its major cities.