Sen. Scott Wiener introduced this legislation, and it passed handily—27 to 9 with four not voting—in the Senate on May 31. GGTA and many other neighborhood and grass-roots groups are opposed to this bill, while several business and industry groups support it. Mayor Ed Lee is on record supporting it, so if it passes the Assembly and is signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, we’re sure that San Francisco will eagerly embrace the opportunity to keep bars and nightclubs open later.
Why is this a problem?
Our main concern is that residents who live in the vicinity of bars and nightclubs are routinely subjected to drunk people and their antics, including public urination, noise, littering, vandalism and other unpleasant and criminal behavior.
Supporters claim this bill will reduce “binge drinking” because people will have an extra two hours to leisurely consume alcohol. If people can’t consume enough alcohol from the time bars open through 2 a.m., we can’t see how their behavior will improve with two extra hours to drink.
Common sense dictates that this will only prolong the misery for those living near nightlife for another two hours. Also, many groups are concerned more impaired drivers will be on the roads during morning rush hours.
Another of the supporters’ arguments is that other cities’ bars stay open until 4 a.m., so we need to keep up to be competitive for tourist dollars. Maybe our lack of hotel rooms, Moscone Center renovations, public safety issues and other problems could be to blame? Even then, tourism is still robust here and throughout California. Also, if you research this issue as it pertains to New York City, you’ll see most neighborhood community boards there have effectively stymied most of the licensees from staying open until 4 a.m. because it’s bad for their quality of life.
Another argument of supporters is to bluntly say, “If you don’t like it, move.” They’re obviously blissfully unaware of the financial hardships associated with moving out of a rent controlled apartment, for one. And for another, San Francisco, with its limited geography, has intertwined residential and entertainment districts to the point where it’s not practical for everyone to move to a quiet neighborhood. Many residences in these areas are SROs housing seniors. They already get little sleep on weekends; extending hours to 4 a.m. would ensure almost no rest.
The Golden Gateway Tenants Association and Barbary Coast Neighborhood Association (BCNA) are two of many groups that submitted letters of opposition even though we actually wouldn’t even be affected directly by this bill because our residences are not near any major nightlife hubs. However, we felt strongly that we should support our neighbors along Broadway, in North Beach, near Polk Street and beyond, and we feel strongly about the public safety aspect. Also, the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods passed a resolution opposing the legislation. This is not a NIMBY matter; it affects everyone.
Below is a document analyzing the bill, a resolution from the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods opposing the bill, and the letter GGTA sent to Sen. Wiener. You can view the letter from BCNA here.
Letter to Sen. Wiener’s Office
Dear Sen. Wiener,
Our neighborhood nonprofit association is writing to express strong opposition to your proposed legislation, SB 384, which would allow local governments to extend alcohol sales to 4 a.m.
We believe this bill, if enacted, will erode the quality of life in many San Francisco neighborhoods. San Francisco Mayor Lee already has come out in support of changing the hours, so we anticipate that the city will eagerly embrace the 4 a.m. extension if the law is enacted.
Many of our entertainment districts and residential districts are intertwined, which has long been a hardship for those who live in close proximity to bars and nightclubs that stay open until 2 a.m. Allowing those businesses to stay open until 4 a.m. will further diminish living conditions in those neighborhoods.
Friends and neighbors of ours who live in areas such as North Beach and the Top of Broadway corridor already are inundated with noise, crime, trash, human waste and other inconsiderate activity. Many are seniors who deserve a peaceful place to live. If your bill passes, it will rob thousands of people of any hope of a few hours of sleep on night when the drinking establishments are open.
The argument that this will help tourism is tone-deaf. Tourists and their dollars are indeed welcome in this city and state, but not at the expense of the full-time residents. Tourism to California already is robust; in fact, San Francisco doesn’t even have enough hotel rooms to accommodate all of the visitors during busy times.
Also, this bill won’t help small businesses or employees; it will only pad the pockets of major nightclub owners and operators and the big liquor companies. Most of the independent restaurants in our city right now don’t even stay open until midnight, let alone 2 a.m., because the majority of residents turn in early here. And, I have spoken to several bar and restaurant workers who are vehemently against the bill because they don’t want to be up that late dealing with even more intoxicated patrons.
This bill will do little to improve the state’s economy and will surely have a negative impact on the lives of most of those who live here. We urge you to not move forward with SB 384 for the sake of the great majority of your constituents. Thank you.
President, Golden Gateway Tenants Association