By T.A. Hendrickson
The State Assembly has defeated a bill – SB 930 — to extend last call at bars in selected California cities from 2 a.m. currently to 4 a.m. The vote to kill the bill, on Aug. 24, was 31 to 25, with 24 Assemblymembers not voting.
The defeat in the Assembly means that the bill will not come before the State Senate.
Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, a Democrat who represents Northeast Los Angeles, voted with the losing side to allow a later last call.
SB 930 was the fifth try since 2013 to extend last call in California and the fourth attempt since 2017 to be championed by State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco).
Over the years, Carrillo has been a co-author and “yes” vote on unsuccessful bills by Wiener to extend last call.
The defeat of SB 930 in the Assembly came just weeks after the L.A. City Council passed a resolution of opposition to the bill. Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León, who represent NELA neighborhoods in Council Districts 1 and 14, respectively, voted with the City Council majority to oppose SB 930.
The L.A. County Democratic Party also submitted a letter of opposition to SB 930.
Opposition to SB 930 led its supporters in the state legislature to water down the bill before the vote this week. Originally, the bill would have allowed extended bar closing times as part of a pilot project in seven California cities. That list was reduced to three cities: San Francisco, West Hollywood and Palm Springs. In addition, the last call was changed from 4 a.m. to 3 a.m. during the week and 4 a.m. on weekends and holidays.
But those changes did not change the basic argument against the bill, namely, that additional hours of alcohol sales would expose the pilot cities and surrounding communities to the harms and costs of excessive drinking – including drunk driving and domestic violence.
Supporters of SB 930 positioned the bill as a pandemic relief measure for small business drinking venues. They acknowledged that “bars that survived [the pandemic] are now open at full capacity,” but said that smaller bars needed to stay open later to overcome the economic hardships of the pandemic.
In years’ past, supporters of a 4 a.m. last call have said that additional hours of drinking would attract more conventions to California and would enhance the state’s reputation as a nightlife destination.
The Assembly majority focused instead on the potential harm from more drinking. As Assemblymember Tom Lackey, a Republican representing Palmdale and a former California Highway Patrol Officer put it after the vote: “Thanks to the intense coalition fighting to kill SB 930, we once again saved lives by defeating this hurtful proposal.”