The San Fernando Valley area is great. In the entire Los Angeles area, it’s among the very best places to live and to work. But one thing it is not: party central.

Be honest. If a visitor asks you for directions to the nearest hot spot, you’re likely to point toward Las Vegas.

Now I don’t think any of us would like to see our family-centric Valley area transformed into a basin of unabashed bacchanalia. But on the other hand, a spot of nightlife here or there – somewhere, anywhere, for goodness’ sake – would add a dash of vibrancy to what can be an immense dead-after-dark zone.

That’s why I’m heartened by a bill in Sacramento (SB 384), that would give cities the flexibility to let some nightspots stay open until 4 a.m. According to the language in the bill, the statute now calls for every bar in the state to close by 2 a.m. and not reopen until 6 a.m. at the earliest.

Let’s stop for one quick sidebar because you and I probably are wondering the same thing: 6 a.m.? Really? Bars can open at 6 a.m.? What genius legislator concluded that it is a serious no-no to tipple past 2 a.m., but if you want to pound down a few on your way to work in the morning, hey, that’s perfectly fine.

Anyway, back to the bill: It does not mandate that all bars must stay open extra late. It simply gives local jurisdictions the right to extend the closing time to as late as 4 a.m. The city could choose to give that right to only one or two places that serve alcohol. Or the locality could create an entertainment district and any bar in it could serve drinks extra late. Or the city could opt to do nothing – not change the current 2 a.m.closing time.

What’s more, it wouldn’t be easy for a bar to stay open extra late. For example, any nightspot that applies to stay open late would have to notify neighbors within 500 feet and be subject to a hearing and appeals process. The point: Even if the bill passes, it’s not as if suddenly every second bar would be open till 4.

So why is this a good idea? Partly because it would boost the convention and tourism business. We miss out on some conferences and their free-spending conventioneers who want to party hearty till almost dawn. Such cities as New York, Chicago, Washington, Las Vegas and Miami Beach all have nightspots that stay open until 4 a.m. I know from having lived in New Orleans years ago that a number of bars there never close. (The joke: They’d close if the final customer would ever crawl out.) California’s bigger cities are at a competitive disadvantage.

Now, you might point out that extra-late hours might fit well in Hollywood and West Hollywood but not anywhere in the Valley area. But I’d argue that you’d be wrong. We have some districts that could be transformed by this law. They could become far more vibrant nighttime entertainment districts if only we let them. Examples: the NoHo Arts District in North Hollywood; a stretch of Brand Boulevard in Glendale; spots on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City and Sherman Oaks; downtown Burbank; perhaps near the Village in Woodland Hills; and maybe even a pocket on Thousand Oaks Boulevard in Conejo Valley.

Those zones and others I didn’t mention would never be big convention magnets, true. But they could become little hot spots that attract smaller regional meetings plus serve as a local gathering place for those who stay up late. If the nightspots do a brisk business and expand, other businesses would follow and pretty soon, we’d have several livelier nightclub districts throughout the area. It would be grand to have at least a few zones in the Valley area that are alive after 5, no?

Local folks would benefit from this. Not everyone has a 9-to-5 job, after all, and some people just want to stay out late on occasion. Businesses would be helped and even created if entertainment districts were to coalesce, and some residents would find the areas appealing. Even if they went home at 9 p.m., they may be attracted to the more vibrant nightlife zones.

What’s more, it must be safer for bars to close at different times so that not all inebriated folks are dumped onto the street at once, overwhelming ridesharing services.

If we wanted to clamp down on anything, I’d be in favor of changing that law that allows bars to open at 6 a.m.

Charles Crumpley is editor and publisher of the Business Journal. He can be reached at