Measure to Help Battered Restaurant, Bar Industry Heads to Assemble for Next Vote
By Lou Hirsh
August 26, 2021 | 5:59 P.M.
The California Senate has passed legislation that would allow bars and restaurants to make permanent use of sidewalks, parklets and other public spaces outside their doors to serve alcohol under a state liquor license. The state Assembly is expected to vote on the measure within the next two weeks.
State Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, introduced Senate Bill 314, also known as the Bar and Restaurant Recovery Act, earlier this year. The measure would make permanent certain policies enacted by the state during the pandemic that have allowed bars and restaurants to serve alcohol in outdoor spaces while indoor dining and drinking remained restricted.
The changes include lifting certain restrictions that prohibited different operators, with different types of liquor licenses, to share common outdoor spaces for the serving and consumption of alcohol. These services can remain permanent for businesses receiving their liquor licenses before July 1, 2024, when the program is scheduled to expire.
“The pandemic hit our restaurants, bars and music venues like a wrecking ball, and we need to throw these small businesses a lifeline,” Wiener said in a statement.
Representatives for Wiener’s office said the bill now goes to the floor of the state Assembly for a vote and will then return to the Senate for a final vote for concurrence on any revisions inserted by the lower house. If both chambers sign on the bill, it then goes to Gov. Gavin Newsom for his signature to become law effective Jan. 1.
Newsom in June approved the extension of alcohol-licensed parklets and other outdoor spaces at least through the end of 2021. Several cities, including San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco, have already moved to extend their local outdoor dining programs that debuted during the pandemic at least through July 2022.
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