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Follow-Up: Bill Allowing 4 a.m. Bar Closings In LB (If Council Agrees) Introduced in Sac'to, Supported By Mayor Garcia 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.
(Jan. 22 2018, 11:35 a.m.) -- Following-up on a story first reported on Dec. 6, state Senator Scott Wiener (D, San Francisco) has now introduced a bill -- SB 905 full text here -- that would let the City Councils in six California cities -- San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, West Hollywood and Long Beach -- decide whether to allow their city's bars and restaurants to serve alcohol until 4 a.m. Senator Wiener has indicated that he's doing so after Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia voiced support for the action.

In a release, Sen. Wiener quotes Mayor 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." [The same quote by Mayor Garcia was included in a Nov. 28, 2017 release before the bill text quoted below became visible.]

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Under the bill, the six named cities (including LB) could only get the 4 a.m. closing time if their City Council does the following:

(1) Designates a task force comprised of members, including at least one member of law enforcement and one additional member of the California Highway Patrol, to develop a recommended local plan that meets all of the following requirements:
(A) Shows that the public convenience or necessity will be served by the additional hours.
(B) Identifies the area that will be affected by the additional hours and demonstrates how that area will benefit from the additional hours.
(C) Shows significant support by residents and businesses within the additional hours service area for the additional hours, pursuant to a determination by the local governing body.
(D) Includes an assessment by local law enforcement regarding the potential impact of an additional hours service area and the public safety plan, created by local law enforcement, for managing those impacts that has been approved by the local governing body. The assessment shall include crime statistics, data derived from police reports, emergency medical response data, sanitation reports, and public health reports related to the additional hours service area.
(E) Shows that transportation services are readily accessible in the additional hours service area during the additional service hours.
(F) Includes programs to increase public awareness of the transportation services available and unavailable in the additional hours service area and the impacts of alcohol consumption.
(G) Includes an assessment of the potential impact of an additional hours service area on adjacent cities, counties, and cities and counties, including, but not limited to, nearby law enforcement agencies.
(H) Indicates that the qualified city chooses to participate in the pilot program.
(2) Based upon its independent assessment, adopts an ordinance that satisfies the elements of the local plan, including the requirements of subparagraphs (A) to (F), inclusive, of paragraph (1), and submits the ordinance to the department.[of Alcoholic Beverage Control.]



Under LB's City Charter, LB's Mayor has no power to limit 4 a.m. closings to downtown or to "special events." Only the Council can do that. So what do you expect will happen when Belmont Shore bars and restaurants want the same treatment as those downtown? And those in NLB, Bixby Knolls, the Zaferia, the Airport area?

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." But Mayor Garcia didn't provide "community leadership" to articulate a city-wide" perspective on 4 a.m. bar/restaurant alcohol bill. He did the opposite; he avoided public discussion, pro or con.

Mayor Garcia easily could have, but didn't, send the issue to the Council's "State Legislation Committee" (Austin, Mungo, Gonzalez, whose members he chose) or to the full City Council, whose members are supposed to discuss, and allow public testimony before setting policy on pending state legislation. (Some other cities included in Sen. Wiener's bill were already on record supporting 4 a.m. closings in a previous version of the bill that stalled last year.)

Senator Wiener says SB 908 simply allowing local "choice," which rings hollow coming from the author of SB 35 that imposes Sacramento dictates on cities like Long Beach, weakening and in some cases erasing local choices on land use, parking and housing. And yes, LB-area state Senator Ricardo Lara (D, LB-Huntington Park) -- who voted for SB 35 -- has joined as a named co-author of SB 905.

This isn't the end of the world. The City Council has the ultimate check and balance on this. But it is what happens when City Councilmembers let a Mayor take powers he doesn't have and use them to suit special interests, while Councilmembers shrug powers we give them in elections like the one coming up in April.

And yes, in our opinion these are the kinds of things that LB elections should be about.

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