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Entertainment Commission Uses Permit Revocation Powers to Improve Nightlife Safety

November 7, 2011

While many cities have little or no operational standards for nightclubs, San Francisco not only has an entire commission devoted to issuing permits for entertainment uses, such as nightclubs, San Francisco has also empowered its Entertainment Commission to revoke those same permits.  The Entertainment Commission has only been able to revoke the permits it issues since 2010.

The San Francisco Entertainment Commission is also charged with developing “good neighbor policies that appropriately balance the cultural, economic, employment and other benefits of a vibrant entertainment and late-night entertainment industry with the needs of residents and businesses in the vicinity of entertainment venues”, according to San Francisco Administrative Code Section 90.1.

The following is from an article on the San Francisco Entertainment Commission from the San Francisco Chronicle – Under legislation by Supervisor David Chiu that passed in August 2010, the commission expanded its ability to shutter venues. Another piece of legislation by Chiu, whose district is the club-heavy North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf, established regulations for hiring event promoters at the end of 2010.

The Entertainment Commission has an inspector who attends parties, raves and dance halls every weekend and can stick problem venues with fines starting at $100. This summer, the agency issued 17 citations and 34 violation notices. Club-related crime data provided weekly by the police help the commission track trends and identify repeat offenders.

That expanded tool kit came in handy in November 2010, when a man was fatally shot at the Gravity Room in the Marina. The commission suspended the club’s permit for a week and ordered beefed-up security measures. Shortened hours, increased security, pat-downs for every club-goer, security cameras monitoring the inside and outside, and contracts for hiring promoters were among the changes made to its security plan. Shortly thereafter, the club shut down.

The commission also stepped in to mediate in January when one man was killed and three injured in fights at the Temple Nightclub downtown. They were hitting each other with glass bottles, so the commission ordered the club not to serve bottled beer on certain nights, Kane said.

“If you don’t respond to somebody quickly after they have made an error, your window of educating them and getting them into compliance goes away,” Kane said. “So having quick, responsive ways to remediate a situation is really, really valuable, and is a success.”

San Francisco Police Captain Stephen Tacchini said he and his crew still have problems managing the rowdy crowds that empty onto Broadway when bars and clubs shut down.

Captain Tacchini wants the commission to require more clubs to take safety measures before trouble happens, such as installing video surveillance, blocking intoxicated partyers from clubs, and using devices to screen for weapons.

To read the entire article, please click here.

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