4 a.m. Bar Bill Is About More Than Booze, Because... is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(Dec. 9, 2017, 6:15 a.m.) -- As reported (first again) on Dec. 6, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia told state Senator Scott Wiener (D, San Francisco) that Long Beach favors inclusion in a 2018 bill that would let six California cities (San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, West Hollywood and Long Beach ) that, with subsequent approval by their respective City Councils, would enable their city's bars and restaurants to serve alcohol until 4 a.m. As a result of what Mayor Garcia told him, Sen. Wiener says he'll now include Long Beach in his bill.

In our view, this is about more than booze.

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Mayor Garcia acted non-transparently and, in our opinion, basically usurped powers he doesn't have. Under LB's City Charter, the Council votes and sets policy; the Mayor has no power to do these things. LB's City Charter recognizes the Mayor "for all ceremonial purposes" and states that he "shall represent the City at large and utilize the office of Mayor to provide community leadership and as a focal point for the articulation of city-wide perspectives on municipal issues."

Applying this legal standard, Mayor Garcia didn't provide "community leadership" to articulate a city-wide" perspective on 4 a.m. bar/restaurant alcohol service. He evaded doing so. He didn't want public discussion, pro or con. He simply did what a downtown special interest group wanted. Is that what you want?

We only discovered what Garcia did only after state Sen. Wiener issued a release quoting Garcia as saying: "This bill clearly would not work citywide for us, it does give the city and local law enforcement the flexibility to allow special events in the Downtown Entertainment District. This option has been supported by the Downtown Long Beach Business Alliance, which manages our business improvement district."

But LB's Mayor has no power to limit 4 a.m. "last calls" to downtown or to "special events"; again, only the Council can do that. So what do you expect Council incumbents Lena Gonzlez and Suzie Price, now seeking second terms in office, will do when downtown LB bars/restaurants interests want 4 a.m. hours, and Belmont Shore bars and restaurants then likely seek similar treatment? What will other Council incumbents do when bars/restaurants in Bixby Knolls, the Zaferia, the Airport area and NLB want the same?

If LB's Council incumbents offer endless excuses or otherwise fail to agendize an item in the coming weeks to have a publicly recorded Council vote, with public testimony pro and con, on whether to oppose including LB in Sen. Wiener's 4 a.m. bar bill, Long Beach will be included in the bill. If those currently holding Council offices fail to take voted actions to remove LB from the 4 a.m. bar bill now, why would anyone believe they'll vote against the 4 a.m. hour later?

Council incumbents in districts 3 and 5 already face reform-minded challenges from Gordana Kajer (district 3) and Corliss Lee (district 5.) Others may surface in other Council districts in the coming weeks. If reform-minded Council challengers are elected in districts 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9 in April/June 2018, they'll be the ones making the decisions after July 15, 2018.

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