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Senator wants nightlife extended two more hours

A state senator wants nightlife in California to party on into the wee hours of the morning.

Sen. Mark Leno proposed bill would let bars and restaurants serve alcohol until 4 a.m.

People started their St. Patrick’s Day holiday weekend on Friday night, but once the clock strikes 2 a.m., the party must stop. But a new law might just change that.

Keeping the drinks flowing two hours past the current cutoff could mean a boost in tourism, an increase in local tax revenue and more jobs. At least that’s what Leno out of San Francisco believes. That’s why he’s pushing to change the law.

“That would help a lot with our deficit we have in California. So, I totally agree,” said Jessica Sahagun, a Santa Barbara resident.

But it’s not just the money flowing that has some patrons excited.

“Most of California doesn’t have the normal 9-5 so that would be great to actually get off work and actually have a drink,” said L.J. Lumpkin, a Santa Barbara resident.

County by county, the rules could be changed allowing bars to stay open as late as 4 in the morning.

“My security staff, my bartenders and everyone would like the idea of not turning the lights on at 1:30 and chasing everybody out because we actually close more at 1:30 just to have that half hour to get people out,” explained Bob Stout.

Stout has owned the Wildcat Lounge for 21 years. He said this change could be more money but also acknowledges it could mean more calls to the police.

Most police calls to bars deal with noise complaints and fights. Closing at 4 a.m. could push them even later into the night.

“And so a change like this would certainly mean that more officers would have to be on the street,” said Sgt. Riley Harwood, of the Santa Barbara Police Department.

Casa Blanca stops pouring at midnight because it’s a restaurant. It could stay open later if the bill became law. The manager thinks it could also cut down on binge drinking.

“Even up until 1:30 in the morning when they know it’s last call, they’ll start, ‘Let’s get as many shots in as we can before the end of the night.’ It’s not safe, it leads to drunk driving. I think a more spaced out time would be a good option,” said Samantha Winstrom.

The extended hours proposal will go before a policy committee this month. Until then, the last call bell will still chime at 1:30 a.m.

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