He Said, She Said: CW Nevius And Donna Sachet Square Off Over Booze Until 4 AM Proposal

When State Senator Mark Leno proposed Senate Bill 635, which would let certain California businesses provide beverage service until 4 a.m., the response was immediate, both for and against. Now two local personalities are squaring off over the proposal, one worried that extending last call from 2 to 4 AM could increase assaults, the other saying that a later last call is just what this city needs to have a “dynamic social scene.”

When Leon’s proposal was announced, Mayor Ed Lee reacted with worry, saying “We have to think very carefully about that…Some would suggest that alcohol at certain hours is not the best thing combined with traffic.”

Presumably, this alcohol and traffic combination is being dealt with in the at least nine states and more than two dozen cities, including New York City, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas and New Orleans, that also have extended closing times.

“Many cities in California have dynamic social activities that are vital to their economies, but they lack the flexibility to expand their businesses,” Leno said in a statement.

Leno said the legislation would allow cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego “to start local conversations about the possibility of expanding nightlife and the benefits it could provide the community by boosting jobs, tourism and local tax revenue.”

The bill would allow jurisdictions to submit a local plan to the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to extend alcohol serving hours up to 4 a.m. The extension would only apply to on-sale establishments like restaurants, not off-sale ones like liquor stores.

The legislation is supported by the California Restaurant Association, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and the California Music and Culture Association.

At least one Op-Ed columnist agrees with those supporters: Drag personality Donna Sachet, writing for the Chron, describes the proposal as “a refreshing breath of fresh air.”

“This is an idea whose time has come” Sachet writes. “Let’s offer urban California environments and urban people a more diverse, vibrant night life while benefiting from increased tourism, tax revenue, and jobs.”

Writing for the same publication, columnist CW Nevius takes the opposite stance, saying the proposal “sounds like a prescription for problems to me.”

“Imagine the 4 a.m. crowd rolling out of the bar down the street from your apartment,” Nevius cautions, citing a European study that “found that for each hour of extended closing hours, assaults increased 16 percent.”

Where do you fall on the issue? Are you Team Chuck or Team Donna?

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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