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A November ballot measure hopes to shift daylight hours in California. An unintentional side effect could be the killing of dawn patrol for the nine-to-fivers. Photo: Austin Neill/Unsplash

A November ballot measure hopes to shift daylight hours in California. An unintentional side effect could be the killing of dawn patrol for the nine-to-fivers. Photo: Austin Neill/Unsplash


The Inertia

It’s a bi-annual rhythm that’s a breath of relief in the fall, and a horrifying thought in the spring. Come November, in most states across the continental US, we’ll set our clocks back an hour – resulting in one extra hour of sleep – only to change them forward again come spring 2019.

But this November, Californians will take to the polls to decide the fate of Daylight Saving Time, and doing away with bi-annual clock changes may not be in the best interest of surfers that prefer to get their kicks before slumping in to their 9-to-5.

If approved, Proposition 7 would repeal the Daylight Saving Time Act of 1949. Instead, it would allow for Daylight Saving Time to exist all year – a nuance that’s important to unpack. As of now, March through October mark Daylight Saving Time for most of the US. November through March we turn to Standard Time. Instead of remaining on Standard Time as Hawaii and Arizona have elected to do (and is permissible under federal law), the move under Prop. 7 would shift daylight hours so they extend into the evening in winter months and the sun rises later.

During winter months when the days get shorter and the nights get longer, that extra hour could mean the difference between the extra time to hit the beach and it being too dark to get wet before work or school.

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In December, for instance, right around the winter solstice the sun rises in California right around 7:21 a.m. Because of Daylight Saving Time, that’s actually around the same time the sun rises in late October, right before the clocks turn back. But, if the time doesn’t get knocked back an hour, that means the sun will rise around 8:21 a.m. in late December, effectively killing any and all chance of getting a few waves before punching in at nine.

The idea to put the kibosh on Daylight Saving Time (or, rather, to put the kibosh on Standard Time) is the brainchild of Assemblyman Kansen Chu, who introduced Assembly Bill 807 back in 2016. It passed the state Legislature and was signed by Governor Jerry Brown on June 28th to appear on the ballot this November.

According to Assemblyman Chu, the move is an effort to shift daylight to the afternoon and evening hours for youth to be able to play outside after school. “We are hoping to be able to increase the public health and increase the public safety and allow kids to play outdoor sports and improve their well-being a little bit,” Chu told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s a movement we are trying to lead other states and other countries in.”

Apparently, Daylight Saving Time has also been linked to greater workplace injuries and heart attacks in the spring months when people are forced to wake up an hour early.

Still, the working stiffs whose only solace is that short time they spend in the ocean before work are likely none too pleased with the potential of losing it.

But according to a Los Angeles Times editorial, there’s not necessarily any reason to panic, because California can’t change its time willy-nilly. Even if it passes in November, writes the Times, “only Congress can ever make the wish come true.”