Senator Wiener Proposes “Entertainment Zones” to Boost California

Senator Wiener Proposes “Entertainment Zones” to Boost California

To revitalize California’s urban centers, Senator Scott Wiener has introduced Senate Bill 969 (SB 969) to create “entertainment zones” that could pave the way for bars and restaurants to serve alcohol in public spaces. Citing the need for economic revitalization after the COVID-19 crisis, the bill aims to activate downtowns through the use of outdoor activities and increasing pedestrian traffic. Local businesses could see an uptick, alongside the vibrant street life these zones are designed to promote.

Once-bustling downtown neighborhoods are now struggling with the ongoing fallout of a global pandemic. “Getting people back on the streets is key to the economic recovery of cities across California,” Wiener said in a statement, advocating for an initiative that will both improve the experience for guests and benefit local restaurants and pubs provides financial support. San Francisco experienced the slowest recovery, with only 67% of previous pedestrian traffic, and could use this legislative push to revive its economic vibrancy.

The bill specifically addresses the current restriction that prevents brick-and-mortar stores from enjoying the same privilege as festival stalls – selling take-away alcoholic beverages. SB 969 could change that by leveling the playing field at public events and potentially attracting an influx of tourists and locals alike. Events such as fairs and festivals have been instrumental in boosting the local economy and their success has impacted a number of sectors.

Support for SB 969 spans multiple cities, with San Jose and the city and county of San Francisco leading the way. San Francisco Mayor London Breed sees “Entertainment Zones” as a creative solution to breathe new life into neighborhoods that have become too accustomed to the nine-to-five routine. Taking a cue from San Jose, which has seen the most significant rebound, these zones could spark a surge in vibrant activity that is critical to the survival of small businesses, from bars to barbershops, that depend on the city’s ability to draw crowds .

The potential economic boost is not lost on elected officials or industry representatives. “Entertainment Zones will attract workers back to the office, attract new companies to lease office space and act as an important lifeline for small businesses downtown,” noted Ben Bleiman of CalNight, who was quoted in the bill’s announcement.