Don’t count on extended bar hours in trio of valley cities just yet

As currently written, legislation would see Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Coachella eligible to participate in a five-year pilot program.
Bars such as this one on Arenas Road in Palm Springs would be allowed to serve alcohol until 4 a.m. under a law being discussed in Sacramento.
Bars such as this one on Arenas Road in Palm Springs would be allowed to serve alcohol until 4 a.m. under a law being discussed in Sacramento.

A proposal to extend bars hours in six California cities, including three in the Coachella Valley, has a long way to go before it gets anywhere near reality here, city official said this week.

Driving the news: California State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has tried and failed twice to pass legislation allowing bars to remain open until 4 a.m. in cities chosen for a pilot program. He’s trying again with SB930, which is currently working its way through Sacramento and scheduled for its next committee hearing in early August.

  • In 2018 a similar bill passed in both the Assembly and Senate but was vetoed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown.
     
  • In 2019 his effort passed the Senate overwhelmingly but was defeated in the Assembly.

Flash forward: As currently written, the new version of the legislation would see Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Coachella join San Francisco, West Hollywood and two other cities eligible to participate in a five-year pilot program.

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  • “We know nightlife is so incredibly important for our culture and for our economy,” Wiener said during a news conference last month in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood. “When you think of why people move to cities, one of them is that they want to have a vibrant nightlife, be able to have fun and enjoy themselves.”

Zoom in: During a July meeting of the Main Street Palm Springs business association, Mayor Lisa Middleton said even if the bill receives the governor’s signature, it doesn’t mean alcohol would be served later at area nightclubs, restaurants and bars.

  • “Almost all of the bars and restaurants in the city have a conditional use permit that specifies they can only remain open until 2 a.m.,” Middleton said of the situation in Palm Springs. “We have been supportive of that pilot, but would want to look very closely at any facility that asked to go from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. in a safe manner.”
     
  • “The law is the law,” added Palm Springs Police Dept. Lt. William Hutchinson, who oversees an area of the city that contains most of its bars. “We’ll work with that and see what impact it has down the road.”
  • The city of West Hollywood has already approved allowing the later alcohol service should the state law pass.

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