Should bars be open until 4 am?


State Sen. Mark Leno is introducing a bill that would allow (not require, allow) cities to designate areas where bars could stay open and serve alcohol until 4 am. It's not going to lead to a rampage of all-night drinking -- the bill calls for a three-stage approval system that would allow public input at every step. But it might allow a handful of clubs in the city to stay open later -- something that works just fine in a lot of other places, including most of New York State.

I grew up in a small town north of New York City (it was called North Tarrytown then, Sleepy Hollow now) and all the bars were open until 4. No big deal; even the hard-core people usually left well before that.

Then I went to college in Middletown, Connecticut, where people think it's still 18th Century Puritan New England and all bars have to close at 1 am. At about 12:30, everyone would hear last call, chug as much as they could, and spill out onto the streets, and the cops never had an easy time of it.

That's why, when Seattle considered this, the police department was all in favor.

But already, there's opposition, some of it from people who just think everyone should drink less -- and some of it from Bruce Lee Livingston at Alcohol Justice, whoi usually spends his time trying to tax drinks to pay for the costs of treating alcohol problems.

I didn't get why Livingston was fighting this, so I called him up -- and after we talked about whether the later hours at a small number of clubs in a few parts of the city will lead to more drinking and more problems (he thinks so, citing " target="_blank"> this; I disagree), he started talking about how dense San Francisco has become and how late-night clubs could harm residents who live near them. "San Francisco is becoming a daytime city," he said. Sunday Streets, hiking, healthy lifestyles ... all of those things conflict for Livingston with the notion of late-night drinking. Between 2 am and 4 am, he said, people "are trying to get some rest."

Which is an argument against having active nightlife in an area where there are also residences, a major battle for years in San Francisco. But I have to say: The clubs in Soma moved into that area long before there was much of any residential use, and the condos came later -- and I'm sorry, but when you move into a place next to a nightclub, you can't expect silence at night.

I think with all of the tech workers who work unusual and long hours, this is becoming MORE of a late-night town. I hope so. We'll see.



"and I'm sorry, but when you move into a place next to a nightclub, you can't expect silence at night."

True! And when you move next to Fisherman's Wharf you shouldn't expect....oh wait...don't want to piss off Golinger, Peskin and the rest of THD. Never mind. Cancel the Sting concert.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 9:09 pm

This is not a complicated issue. Tim's right.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 10:18 pm

Really enjoyed it.

...Is the state this desperate for revenue and is that the primary motivation...?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 11:14 pm

2 AM last call: People have to jam dining show and lounge time into a shorter period, causing everyone to be at the same place at the same time, and all demand a cab between 1:30 and 2:15 AM.

4AM last call: Many people prefer to go to the show first, dine till midnight, freshen up again, then relax at a club. The early birds would have less competition for a cab at 1:30 AM and the night owls can relax.

Every city that has a critical mass of hotel beds and transportation must be allowed the option to enjoy later at night.

Birthdays and anniversaries come only once a year, many of the people out late are out for a special occasion.

Posted by Guestsf24hr on Mar. 16, 2013 @ 2:11 am

whine on KQED this morning.

It's ridiculous that these entitled community activist types are always called on by the media. These people set up a group of dozens and then get attention through chronic sniveling.

Posted by matlock on Mar. 16, 2013 @ 5:22 am

The whole **point** of the San Francisco Bay Guardian is chronic sniveling...

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Mar. 16, 2013 @ 9:38 am

Chronic sniveling about progressives and SFBG. If you don't like this site, take your sniveling elsewhere!

Posted by Guest on Mar. 16, 2013 @ 11:39 am

So you think no one who disagrees with the Guardian's stance on a particular issue should say so in the comments?

Posted by Hortencia on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 8:19 am

Anyone who corrects or criticizes the partly line here is clearly a troll, liar, heretic and moron.

The tolerance of the left is surely a joy to behold.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 8:45 am

Guest, I consider myself on the left, and yet I disagree with the Guardian's editorial stances all the time. The left is no more monolithic than the center or the right, though I'd argue that, as a rule, the free exchange of differences of opinion is more celebrated on the left than on the right.

Posted by Hortencia on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 8:54 am

than extremists regardless of whether they are on the elft or the right.

Tolerance is a moderate virtue.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 9:11 am

...of course with apologies to George Orwell.

(Transpositional Letters/Bold Lying Guest strikes again!)

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 9:34 am

would take the view that Stalin and Hitler were both intolerant tyrants, even though one was on the elft and one was on the right.

Extremists need intolerance.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 9:59 am

Fool! All you're presently doing is polluting the site and is reason enough for them to banish you (I sure as hell would in a second if it was up to me).

Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

Even assuming that they wanted to which, thankfully, they appear not to want to do.,

Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2013 @ 3:50 pm

Ever go to and read comments to an article there and find some ppl's comments are not shown??? Apparently it's not too hard to ban ppl - yeah you may may be able to jump thru a bunch of hoops to keep from being banned if the SFBG ever gotta clue and banned fools like you (or made you jump thru those hoops) but eventually you'd get tired of playing the rightwing troll on a progressive site and go hang out at Faux News (or something sim). You haven't had difficulties posting your rightwing troll shit only because the SFBG hasn't made it difficult - hopefully they'll fix this comment section one day soon.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2013 @ 5:19 pm

"people" cannot ultimately be banned, only userid's, email addresses and IP addresses. SFBG doesn't require registration but, even if it did, there would be nothing to stop you setting up multiple signons, using different IP's if necessary.

SF streetsblog routinely bans posters who do not tow the party line but it is ultimately ineffective.

Websites do not know who you are.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2013 @ 5:37 pm

I grew up in Louisville, KY where the bars are always open until 4 am. The only difference that it makes is what time you show up to the club. Cities where the later hours are used, people don't get there until after 11, most leave between 2:30 - 3. The time spent at the club is equivalent to other places, it's just a matter of when you get there. It wouldn't be immediate but people here would adjust as well, ultimately it would have zero impact.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 16, 2013 @ 9:52 am

Instead of closing at 4 am, the bars could close at 2 or 3 am. You'd still have plenty of time to get stewed. And most people would head home before then anyway.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 16, 2013 @ 11:45 am

Did you read the article?

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 16, 2013 @ 7:18 pm

Another stupid idea from Leno.

Posted by Richmondman on Mar. 17, 2013 @ 5:40 am

If bars are to stay open until 4am, then maybe they should be opening a couple of hours later.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 17, 2013 @ 5:42 am

6am drinkers are not 4am club goers.

Posted by matlock on Mar. 17, 2013 @ 11:08 am

The idea generally sounds fine. One countervailing argument I have seen that seems valid is that 4 am starts to conflict with people who have early commutes. Unfortunately, people do drink then jump in their cars and you don't want a bunch of drunks running around the roads while the roads are getting busy. Maybe allow the 4 am time on Saturday and Sunday mornings only.

Posted by The Commish on Mar. 17, 2013 @ 5:51 pm

Heed our words.

The SFASC feels this is a worthwhile endeavor. We support its implementation.


The REAL San Francisco Anti-Stupidity Campaign.

Posted by The REAL San Francisco Anti-Stupidity Campaign on Mar. 17, 2013 @ 11:15 pm

Yeah, they should!

Posted by on Mar. 18, 2013 @ 5:09 am

So why wouldn't last call at 3:30 AM be the same as the last call at 1:30 AM now?

Chugging at 3:30 AM and spilling onto the streets at 4 AM--n'est-ce pas? Fewer people awake, watching you piss on their plant pots? Fewer cars on the street with which to collide? That's a real improvement!

Posted by TinyTim on Mar. 18, 2013 @ 1:05 pm

keep it the way it is on school nights?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

What a quaint idea. These days, people work all kinds of hours on all kinds of days.

Posted by Hortencia on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 8:44 am

Those who work odd hours are mostly minimum wage stiffs, and cannot afford 10 bucks for a cocktail anyway.

Most clubs are way busier on Fridays and Saturdays than other nights.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 8:50 am

Why are you against working stiffs going out and having a $3 bottle of Bud Lite at 3 a.m. at their neighborhood tavern?

Posted by Hortencia on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 9:05 am

Why not just let anyone serve anything anywhere at any time?

If you believe there is validity to licensing rules and hours, then you typically would have a cutoff time at night.

In England all bars close at 11pm, as I recall from my trip there.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 9:18 am

Actually the UK changed it. It's 24/7 at the neighborhood's discretion.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 5:52 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 6:10 pm

We should invite the school kids to drink with us, so let's lower the drinking age in SF to 14. Bars, taverns, drinking holes, dives, restaurants can make more money and there will be more tax revenue. Isn't that the bottom line in this City? Step over other citizens' concerns and get that ole register ka-chinging. It's only about business here, whether it's tax giveaways to Twitter
or having gas guzzling limos ply the streets looking for passengers (yes, they do that also--not just by iPhone reservation).

Posted by TinyTim on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

There's no good reason to do so. You don't get anything post-2 am that you don't get pre-2 am besides 2 more hours to get even more wasted.

Look at it this way: a much higher % of ppl that are staying there post 2 am have a drinking problem - if not all the time, at least that night (if they didn't, they'd have no prob leaving at or before 2 am to get to bed like our bodies require).

And why do a higher % of ppl there post-2 am have a drinking problem? Because alcohol is a classic example of a positive feedback system (PFS).

Global warming is also a pos fdbk system since, like drinking alcohol, an increase in quantity drives a further increase in quantity. Positive feedback systems are especially dangerous because they drive themselves to a crash (in the case of alcohol, drinking to a point where dangerous consequences have a high probability of occuring with the probability increasing with intake).

That alcohol is a PFS is what makes alcohol such a dangerous drug in society. Compare alcohol with pot.

You take a hit of pot. Does that make you wanna a second one even more than the first, or a third more than the second like it is with alcohol? Nope - you want it less the more you take. Pot is a NEGATIVE feedback system - the more you take, the less you want - the same kind of system in our bodies (the more sugar we put in our blood, the more our bodies try to decrease the amount in our blood via insulin).

With alcohol, you want the 2nd drink more than the 1st, the 3rd more than the 2nd, the 4th more than the 3rd. The result is the more wasted one gets, the HIGHER the urge to get EVEN MORE wasted - again the classic example of a pos fdbk system.

We see the bad consequences all the time from alcohol. Just yesterday was the story of the two 17 yo football players found guilty of raping the 16 yo girl. That almost certainly wouldn't have happened to the girl and those boys future wouldn't be fucked up if not for alcohol. Alcohol makes ppl stupid and the more they drink, the more stupid - and sedated - they get.

If alcohol wasn't particularly potent, it's pos feedback sys nature might not be a big deal but it is VERY potent - even just two drinks has a big effect on most ppl. It BLOWS AWAY cocaine or heroin in its power to take one beyond a sober state (especially if one starts drinking harder stuff where one is QUICKLY getting way beyond sober).

Beyond the terrible consequences of an extremely powerful drug that makes one want to consume more of it the more one consumes, there's also all the news that seems to come out every week lately about how dangerous it is to our bodies when we don't get enough sleep. So just what we need - a force in society to get members of society to get EVEN LESS sleep - nice Mark Leno!

I don't have any prob with ppl drinking alcohol or it being legal (I would never advocate for it being outlawed) but to ignore the consequences that will play out IN MANY LIFES BEING TERRIBLY IMPACTED - especially young lives who NEED TO BE WITH IT at that stage in their lives as a high percentage of them should be getting ready to start a family - is suicidal to a society.

It would be hard to find a way to hurt the health and wellbeing of a society more than to get it to increase it's alcohol intake. If you want some idea of what I speak, go see why they're cracking down so hard on alcohol in Russia. Yeah I know Putin is a criminal and the country would be better off without him but he's right in trying to lower the very high levels of alcohol abuse there because, frankly, it's killing the country.

The real question is what big entertainment complex is throwing lots of $ at Leno to do this??? It's ALWAYS about $ so be honest Mark, who you doing this for??? Becaue it's not for the good of this society or our young ppl.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2013 @ 4:26 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

"Just yesterday was the story of the two 17 yo football players found guilty of raping the 16 yo girl. That almost certainly wouldn't have happened to the girl and those boys future wouldn't be fucked up if not for alcohol. "

It sounds like you might feel more sorry for the rapists than the raped.

Posted by Justin on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 11:21 pm

I,personally, am a responsible adult. When I get done with a late shift, I too would like to enjoy a cocktail with a friend or two. Not everyone who goes to a bar is getting wasted and pissing on people's plants. I lived in NYC for 8 years and the 4am closing time allowed for people of all schedules a chance to enjoy the nightlife. It also creates more opportunities for work.
A previous commenter had brought up the fact that the patrons with earlier schedules that like to go to bed early, do so around 1am or even prior, and the ones who stay out later, simply can. Yes, I do agree with them when they stated that it causes less congestion on the metro, with cabs and for police enforcement as well. It certainly encourages commerce in our fair city for a longer period of the day. Imagine how many more people from Oakland would come through and patronize these restaurants and bars if they weren't all clamoring for the same seat on the Trans-Bay busses (assuming they are responsible enough to not drive)?

Posted by asfs on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

But licensing laws exists to tell you when you can and cannot drink in public.

Your drinking affects others.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 12:58 pm

Concerning “those of us who grew up in civilized parts of the East Coast … New York ...” yeah; one East Coast city comes to mind, Nashville, Tennessee. You can buy a beer at a convenience store, a full-service liquor (ABC) store—but not at any grocery store, where one must purchase the whole carton. This is weird. Neither can I understand how anyone can sit at a bar for 16-hours, not counting the expense.

Posted by Awayneramsey on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 12:45 pm

I grew up in New York City when the drinking age was 18 and even though drinking was legal until 4 am, can't remember terrible problems with it. One major problem with places like California is that too many people drive after drinking all night. In NYC everyone took subways, buses, cabs. The 4 am closing meant that at age 18 I could go with a friend to Birdland and many times see four different jazz acts in one night! Then I'd take the subway and bus all the way to my home in Queens. Never had a problem on these outings or my regular nights out in Greenwich Village. Perhaps it was just because it was another time, or perhaps the sheer population density of NYC made it less likely that problems would occur. When I moved to SF in my twenties, I was surprised and dismayed by the early sidewalk roll-ups. It seemed as though the night had barely started before everything suddenly shut down.

Posted by SFresident on Mar. 23, 2013 @ 1:53 pm

For those offering suggestions on how to cut down seriously on DUIs and DWIs, I can only offer two suggestions: get rid of the alcohol or get rid of the cars.

While I'm not recommending either option, I highly doubt any other potential solution, such as education or stiffer penalties, will accomplish much.

Posted by Moonshine Still on Mar. 17, 2014 @ 1:47 pm

For those offering suggestions on how to cut down seriously on DUIs and DWIs, I can only offer two suggestions: get rid of the alcohol or get rid of the cars.

While I'm not recommending either option, I highly doubt any other potential solution, such as education or stiffer penalties, will accomplish much.

Posted by Moonshine Still on Mar. 17, 2014 @ 1:48 pm