Longer Drinking Hours Mean Less Problems And More Revenue
A proposal has been put before the California legislature that would allow cities and counties to petition for extended alcohol serving hours.
Currently, bars must close at 2 a.m. This would allow them to stay open until 4 a.m., if the cities and counties so choose.
And it should pass quicker than you can down a shot.
Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who put forth the bill, argues the state is losing revenue and even tourists to other states because last call is too early. “The bill offers cities an opportunity to create jobs, expand business and increase tax revenue,” he said.
California bars close way too early. Los Angeles likes to think of itself as a world-class city in terms of culture but it can’t compete on that level when it comes to nightlife because the bars close at 2 a.m. In other places bars are open until 4 or even later.
In California, the bars actually have last call at 1:30 and kick everyone out by 1:45 because the bars have to be dark and empty at 2. And that’s simply way too early. I’m not one for places to be open until dawn, but it’s crazy that we have to down our drinks at 1:30. Bar owner cringe when they have to clear out a full, happening bar, and those concerned about the state’s budget revenue should cringe, as well.
At a time when budgets are strained and services and jobs are being cut, a huge source of revenue is sitting behind locked doors.
But revenue is not the only benefit to be derived from bars staying open later. It will actually help cut down on problems and fights at closing time.
This is because people will leave at scattered times rather than pile into the street all at once. Some accustomed to leaving at 2 will do so, people like me will call it a night around 2:30, maybe 3, and after that, the crowds will continue to decrease.
As it is now, most people are not ready to go home, not on a Friday or Saturday night. They want to stay out, and so they hang out in the streets by the bars. And when large numbers of people are in the same place at the same time, there is a lot of potential for trouble.
This is counter to most people’s logic, but those people don’t go to bars. I do, and I’ve seen tense situations arise when all the people from all the bars in an area are put together at the same place at the same time. If bars are allowed to stay open until 4, people will leave at different times, between 2-4, and there will be less chances for fights and other problems to arise.
For the most part, the biggest troublemakers will be the ones still out to 3 and it will be easier for police to isolate and identify them if they try and stir up any trouble. And from what I’ve seen, the troublemakers need large groups to stir up their trouble.. They move about the crowd saying and doing things hoping to find someone to react to them. If there are fewer people on the street than there are fewer chances for trouble.
Extending the closing time could also cut down on drunk driving for the same reason. With people leaving at different times, police will easier be able to watch for people staggering to cars. And with fewer cars leaving at the same time, impaired drivers will be easier to spot.
To those who argue that people will drink more, that’s only partially true. Most people might have a couple more, sure, but then again knowing they would be out later, they would start their drinking later.
One other positive effect that helps in all these areas is that some people binge drink the last half hour or so, and by giving them more time, they will space out their drinks. So they will not get drunk, or as least as drunk.
It’s time this state got hip with its drinking laws. And staying open until 4 is long-overdue legislation.