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Friday, Mar 22 2013 11:00 PM

New alcohol bill can work, just not in this community

By The Bakersfield Californian

A recently proposed bill that would allow the sale of alcohol after 2 a.m. could work, if carefully considered and implemented, in certain areas of California. But it probably doesn't make sense for Bakersfield.

State Sen. Mark Leno's bill would allow communities to extend the hours that alcohol could be served to 4 a.m. A key component allows cities to decide if they want to adopt it or retain the existing 2 a.m. cutoff based on individual community standards.

We can see vibrant, tourist-dependent areas like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Palm Springs opting to keep their bars open longer than is now permissible, just as cities like Las Vegas, New York and Miami do now. Many of those cities operate on a 24-hour clock already, so making it official with this two-hour extension will be hardly noticeable. But there's no good reason Bakersfield -- or most California cities, for that matter -- should do the same.

Citing public safety concerns, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said of the bill, "I'm not in favor of allowing people to become more intoxicated by allowing bars to close an extra two hours later." We're not either. But California cities should have the right to decide what's best for their own communities.

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