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Last Call for Alcoholic Drinks Extended in California to 4 a.m.

For all you Californians that envied New Yorkers of their “last call” hours of 4 a.m. (or even 4:30 a.m.) now may put that envy to rest. Technically, the last call would be 3:45 a.m. to allow the "hard closing" by 4:00 a.m.

For as long as I can remember (which is a pretty long time) the “last call” was always at 2 a.m. Around 1:45 a.m., the bar server would announce “last call for drinks.” That’s when you either ordered your “last” drink or knew it was time to get home (or at least out of the bar).

However, that may change soon enough. That is because the California Senate just passed Mr. Scott Wieners’ bill entitled SB905 on May 30, 2018. The Bill will administer a pilot program to extend the hours of selling alcohol to 4 a.m. However, the program will be tested only in 7 cities throughout California: Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Long Beach, Palm Springs, San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento. Interestingly, San Diego is excluded.

But don’t get too excited too fast. The Bill only “allows” these cities to extend the hours to 4 a.m. It does not however require the cities to do so. Meaning, restaurant and bar owners will need to obtain an authorization (basically a permit) to sell alcohol beverages beyond 2 a.m. Unfortunately for business owners, this means that not all of those that apply will get a 4 a.m. permit. Here in Los Angeles, the permit process to sell alcohol beverages require a labyrinth of paperwork and can take more than 6 months for approval. This goes for all the cities included in this Bill.

But don’t fret as the Bill does not go into effect until January 1, 2021. That will give all businesses (including those that don’t intend to sell alcohol beverages) ample time to prepare for permits and to open longer hours.

For those businesses that are granted a new permit, it may increase their revenue as well as those of surrounding businesses (that don’t sell alcohol like the pizza joint next door or a coffee shop). Also, it will most likely increase the revenue of transportation services, such as Uber, Lyft, and regular taxis. And, of course the collection of application fees, permit fees, and other fees will likely boost each city’s local revenue.

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