California Lawmaker Proposes Bill That Would Legalize Drinking on Public Streets
A bill in the State Senate would allow for the consumption of alcohol in various public streets.
Senate Bill 969, proposed by Senator Wiener, hopes to revitalize the state’s metropolitan areas by cutting regulations on drinking.
What are the Details?
Senate Bill 969 would allow cities and counties to designate certain areas as “entertainment zones.” Beginning in 2025, these zones would allow people to consume alcohol on streets, sidewalks, and public rights of way.
Additionally, bars and restaurants could sell food and alcohol directly on the street, hoping to increase foot traffic and business in an area.
While municipalities are currently authorized to give street festivals one-day permits to sell alcohol on public streets, this would allow local businesses to reap that same reward.
Entertainment zones would be specific to each city or county, with days and hours when they are active varying by municipality. And, while drinking in designated public areas would be legal, public intoxication will remain an enforced crime.
This isn’t the first time Senator Wiener has proposed legalizing public alcohol consumption. In 2021 and 2023, the Bay Area Senator attempted to pass similar bills. Although both unanimously passed the Senate, the former got held up in the Assembly Appropriations Committee; while last year’s legislation was weakened to only include San Fransisco County.
The Mayors of San Jose and San Fransisco have endorsed Senator Wiener’s proposed legislation.
If passed, California would join New Orleans, Memphis, Las Vegas, and a few other cities as the only places where public drinking is permitted outside of events.
Since the pandemic, California’s downtown areas haven’t come back in the way that many hoped for.
In a study by the University of Toronto, San Fransisco and Sacramento are only receiving ⅔ of the traffic they saw in 2019. In Los Angeles, that figure is slightly over 80%.
Additionally, office vacancy is still well below expectations with Los Angeles, San Fransico, and San Jose all seeing weekly averages of less than 50%. In the Greater Los Angeles area, downtown is particularly struggling.
Senator Weiner’s bill hopes to bring back those areas to where they were before the pandemic.
How Will This Impact You?
The commercial real estate industry, particularly in downtown Los Angeles, has struggled since the pandemic. While much of this has to do with a remote work culture, an increase in visible homelessness, and an increase in crime, the lack of recreational and entertainment options is partly to blame.
While it remains to be seen if Senator Wiener’s bill will make it out of the Assembly, it’s possible the legislation could bring back business and foot traffic in Los Angeles. As a result, commercial areas, particularly those with retail space, could greatly benefit.
We’ll make sure to update you on the progress of the legislation.
Until then, keep up with BOMA on the Frontline for the latest news in the Greater Los Angeles area.