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California Bill Aiming To Change Bar-Closing Time To 4 AM Faces Criticism In San Diego

A flight of six sampler beers, July 3, 2010.

Credit: QuinnDombrowski via Compfight

Above: A flight of six sampler beers, July 3, 2010.

San Diego opponents of legislation that would allow cities around the state to extend the closing time for bars to 4 a.m., from the current 2 a.m., said Tuesday the bill would create problems that would spread into the community.

The substance abuse prevention advocates spoke out against SB 384, introduced by Sen. Joel Anderson, R-El Cajon, and Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco. They proposed to allow the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to license establishments to sell adult drinks for an extra two hours if the business complies with local requirements.

San Diego opponents — who also included representatives of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Pacific Beach Community Planning Group — contend that an extension would create extra burdens for law enforcement, strain the ABC and exacerbate crime.

San Diego opponents of legislation that would allow cities around the state to extend the closing time for bars to 4 a.m., from the current 2 a.m., said Tuesday the bill would create problems that would spread into the community.

Transcript

“The degree of quality of life is going to continue to decrease, and that doesn’t make any sense,” said Lisa Bridges of the California Alcohol Policy Alliance.

Point Loma resident Lucky Morrison agreed.

“The effect it’s had on this community, it’s become a drinking destination, as opposed to an arts and crafts community,” said Point Loma resident Lucky Morrison.

Wiener named the bill the Local Act.

"Nightlife is crucial to the economy and culture of many of our cities, and we should be doing more to empower our communities to support nightlife," Wiener said.

He added that the bill, which passed the state Senate and is now before the Assembly Appropriations Committee, is a "nuanced approach to empower — but not require — local communities to extend alcohol sales hours."

Local state Senator Joel Anderson co-authored the bill, and said the approval process means “locals, law enforcement, and community leaders all have to agree before the proposal goes to the ABC for further review.”

In comments in March to the publication CityBeat, Anderson said, "you always run the

risk of DUIs whether it's 4 o'clock in the morning or 2 o'clock in the morning or 3 o'clock in the afternoon. I think you can stay out past 2 a.m. and not overdo it."

Chris Shaw, who owns four local bars including Mo’s in Hillcrest, said staying open until 4 a.m. is not that big of a deal.

“The police department and the ABC really control how many security guards we have to have, how many patrons, how our patrons act when they are outside the building, we have to have so many security guards on the outside of the building as well. So from 2 to 4 it’s not much difference,” said Shaw.

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