Fact Sheets

Stop Leno’s 4 a.m. Bar Bill

Taxpayers Would Pick Up the Bloody Tab

sb635 stop lenos bar bill

Senator Mark Leno has stunned public health and safety advocates and communities of California by introducing Senate Bill 635 (SB 635)pdf. The 4 a.m. bar bill would allow alcohol to be served from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. if a city or county claims it will be “convenient” or “necessary”. 
There will be an arms race of bars, restaurants and nightclubs competing for the 4 a.m. licenses. With reckless disregard for public health and safety, owners will claim job development, tax revenue, and more tourist dollars, while disregarding substantial evidence of increased alcohol-related harm and cost.

SB 635 indeed will create jobs for first responders arriving at bloody early morning traffic collisions and cleaning up after fights.
  • sf world series drunk burning bus 180x130 cropped enhancedThere are few if any mass transportation options in California from 2- 4:30 am
  • State Highway Patrol and police will have to monitor DUIs and drunk driving much later into the night
  • CHP and police will respond to more late night traffic collisions
  • Police will have to break up later drunken fights and respond to assaults
  • Neighbors will endure 2-4:30 am noise, fights and auto accidents
  • There will be endless public hearings and litigation by cities and counties over bars and restaurants trying to extend their hours
  • Emergency transport and emergency rooms will see alcohol-related injuries and alcohol poisonings in the wee hours of the morning
  • Overall government cost, injury and alcohol-related death will increase
  • Taxpayers and neighbors will pick up the tab for Senator Leno’s 4 a.m. bar bill.


The first hearing on this bill will be in Senate Committee on Governmental Operations on April 23 and it must be defeated. Take action in two important ways!

1. Take action by clicking here.

2. Send an organization or agency letter of opposition to the Senate Governmental Organization Committee by Thursday April 4 by fax 916-445-5258 and copy by fax to Alcohol Justice at 415-456-0491. Put it on YOUR ORGANIZATION”S LETTERHEAD. Copy the suggested text below and customize it to your point of view. Your letter is extremely important. docClick here to download a Word version of the letter. 




Senator Roderick D. Wright
Senate Committee on Governmental Organization
1020 N Street, Rm. 584
Sacramento, CA 95814     Fax (916) 445-5258

RE: OPPOSE SB 635 (Leno) Alcoholic beverages: hours of sale

Dear Chairman Wright:

We are deeply concerned about the policy implications and public health and safety costs to the state, county and local governments associated with extending hours of alcohol sales from 2 AM to 4 AM.

Approximately 10,000 people a year die from alcohol related, preventable harm. Alcohol-related harm costs the state $38.4 billion annually. This $38.4 amount includes the total alcohol-related cost of crime, injuries, traffic accidents, and illnesses that plague California with a closing time for alcohol sales of 2 a.m. Adding more hours of alcohol consumption will only increase those problems and costs.

There is no evidence that postponing last call at bars will magically reduce harm when consumers hit the streets at 4 a.m.

Local entities do not have the law enforcement capacity to deal with bars and restaurants 2 a.m. – 4 a.m. and the public nuisance after 4 a.m.

  • There is little to no mass transportation available in most cities at 4 a.m., meaning that this legislation could directly contribute to more drunk driving and preventable traffic collisions, injury and death – and burden on emergency rooms.
  • The biggest nuisance and crime problem for ABC licensees is around restaurants that are steadily turning themselves into late night drinking establishments after they slowly roll up their food service. Those growing problems between 10 p.m. to 2 p.m. are what the legislature should be grappling with, not trying to extend the problem times even further.
  • As written, the bill does not include a planning process requiring cities to create late night districts; it only forces a one-by-one consideration of licenses.
  • The bill will thus lead to endless one-by-one hearings on licensees who need a finding of Public Convenience and Necessity to be allowed to get the 2 a.m. – 4 a.m. license. Community input into the PCN process is notoriously difficult, and many planning departments, city councils and boards of supervisors routinely grant the finding of PCN any time an application is made without adequate community input.
  • California communities, overburdened with alcohol-related harm both economic and social, do not have the resources to mitigate the additional harms of late night drinking. Since the passage of Prop 26 in 2010, the ability to increase fees at all levels of government has been effectively squashed. Cities and counties will not be able to adequately charge for harm, as they can no longer mitigate for health and human safety costs without a 2/3 vote locally – nearly impossible to reach with the untold ability of alcohol corporations to throw money into local initiatives.
  • In modern California cities, we are trying to promote health lifestyles and dense housing near transportation hubs. This legislation moves entirely the other direction in public policy, promoting more alcohol drinking, promoting less sleep, and promoting noise, nuisance and safety concerns near dense downtown development.
  • There is no ABC capacity to regulate late night bars. Already ABC has one staff person for every 1000 licenses, and they just do not work past midnight. Time and time again, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has noted diminished enforcement capacity, allowing them to attempt to address only the most serious offenses. Continuing to sell alcohol to already-inebriated adults is not one of them. Thus, the burden will fall once again to local police, fire, emergency response, and neighborhood residents to deal with the fallout of public health and safety problems that two more hours of alcohol consumption will produce.

SB 653 is simply an ill-conceived gift to restaurants that want to morph into bars and remain open even later. Without compensation for local costs of enforcement, compliance, and mitigations to ensure that the public health and safety are protected, we respectfully requests that you forcefully oppose this bill in the Senate Committee on Governmental Organization.

We cannot conceive of amendments to this bill that could make it palatable for families, children and neighbors of licensees that wish to make a few bucks more between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.

However, we do not oppose promotion of activities between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. that promote fun and healthy behavior as long as they do not involve extending alcohol sales hours or creating nuisances. Jobs and economic development after 2 a.m. are possible, but this graveyard shift booze bill belongs in the graveyard.


(your name here)


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