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The five-year pilot program is one signature away from being enacted.

Mike Pomranz
Updated September 06, 2018

America’s two biggest cities are two of America’s biggest party cities as well. But when it comes to a night out, New York has always been able to hold at least one thing over Los Angeles’s head. In The City That Never Sleeps, bars can stay open until 4 a.m., but even at Hollywood’s liveliest bars, the service of alcohol is required to stop at 2 a.m. However, Los Angeles is now just one small step away from leveling the playing field.

Last Thursday, California Senate Bill 905 was passed by the state Senate by a vote of 28 to 8, and, as of yesterday, is officially enrolled and heading to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for approval. Once signed, the legislation will launch a five-year pilot program that will allow nine cities, if they so choose, to push back the time of last call from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m.

San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, West Hollywood, Long Beach, Coachella, Cathedral City, and Palm Springs are all included in the bill which is notable for the level of flexibility it provides. Each city has leeway on factors like which neighborhoods, days of the week, or even times of the year they want to extend legal drinking hours.

“It is a really overdue bill,” State Sen. Scott Wiener, who represents San Francisco and introduced the bill, told the Sacramento Bee. “California right now has a one-size-fits-all approach to last call where every bar and night club and restaurant in the state has to stop serving at 2 a.m., whether you’re in downtown LA or in rural area. It makes sense to give our local communities some flexibility.”

Importantly, once enacted, the program would end after five years if lawmakers choose not to extend it. Even as it exists right now, the bill is a compromise: Originally, Wiener proposed giving cities across the entire state the option to push back last call until 4 a.m. but that failed to garner enough support.

Gov. Brown has until September 30 to sign the bill. But don’t start adjusting your planner yet: The law won’t officially take effect until January 2021—an extremely long time away in party years—and even then, that’s only the date when bars could start applying for these extended licenses. For the time being, you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here for the next two hours.

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