LOS ANGELES - In a 3-2 vote Monday night, the West Hollywood City Council voted to extend the city's last call time, which will allow bars to keep the party going.
Considered one of the liveliest neighborhoods in Southern California, West Hollywood hopes to extend alcohol sales from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. The measure will still need to be approved by the state.
The pilot program, which was last vetoed in 2018, applies to bars, restaurants and nightclubs. If the state gives the green light to S.B. 930, local municipalities can decide whether to implement it.
West Hollywood City Councilmember John Erickson says the biggest issue is making sure people can all get home safely.
"As a young person and young elected official, I see my friends out there way past 2 a.m., but also we have public safety concerns. We want to make sure people are getting home safely. And when people are leaving our bars and nightlife, they’re going into other cities so what do other cities think?" said Erickson.
Some say it's what West Hollywood needs – especially after what happened during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I feel like a lot of employees could benefit from making more money in that after-hours area just because there’s so much money to be made in nightlife," said professional dancer Shania Johnson. "I feel like more people start to go out after midnight so why would we stop serving at 2 a.m., especially when all the big cities like New York, Chicago, Miami, Las Vegas, all of them are open 'til 4 a.m."
"I DJ in West Hollywood at all these bars, I do notice that people stay out very late and come out very late so I know the bars would benefit a lot from it," said Olivia Paulson, a DJ.
Others, however, worry that 4 a.m. would be excessive.
"We already have an astounding and wonderful, great nightlife in WeHo, SoHo, NoHo, Palm Springs, anywhere else. This doesn’t better nightlife," said Robert Steloff, a concerned West Hollywood resident. "This only hurts the community and potentially hurts people."
Mothers Against Drunk Drivers stats show most DUI deaths happen between midnight and 4 a.m., and they increased by 20% during the pandemic when 11% fewer vehicles were on the road.
"The most devastating tragedy that I think I’ve ever seen is a victim of a drunk and drug driving crash. That is a 100% preventable crime," said Patricia Rillera, MADD's California State Executive Director.
"A mother or father who loses a child, that grief is just as fresh if it’s 10 years, 20 years, as if it just happened hours ago. So the devastation is just not worth it," she adds.
West Hollywood joins San Francisco, Oakland, Fresno, Coachella, Cathedral City and Palm Springs among cities testing the pilot program.