San Francisco’s North beach, known for its rich cultural history is fast becoming known for its shootings and violence due an influx of underage drinkers to the area’s clubs. The Board of Supervisors approved legislation, giving the city’s Entertainment Commission the needed power to shut down clubs responsible for the violence plaguing this otherwise peaceful neighborhood. The legislation was approved today at San Francisco’s city hall.
The rise in violence has trended upwardly over the last ten years, reaching unacceptable levels. The loss of revenue generated from tourist dollars because of its “bad reputation” is severely hurting an area already hit by declining tourism. The ordinance was introduced by Supervisor David Chius in response to public outcry, especially from local merchants and residents. The ordinance is simple in theory. The commission has the right to revoke the entertainment permit of a club if it becomes a public safety threat or is the center of public nuisance problems. Once the permit is revoked, the club cannot reapply for an entire year.
North Beach residents, however, are not completely sold on this new plan. Their reluctance stems from previous complaints made by residents that were never addressed to their satisfaction. Many residents felt their complaints were “going into a black hole.” However, Chui remains optimistic about his ordinance, saying “It is my hope and desire that these tools…will help to ameliorate the problem,” A great deal of the resident’s apprehension comes from a number of shootings that stem back to the February 7th shootout at the Suede club near Fisherman’s wharf. The gang related shooting left one dead and four others wounded. Residents had hoped that the previous year’s legislation giving the commission greater power over clubs would curb the violence. However, the February shooting proved otherwise.
In 2009 the Board of Supervisors passed legislation that gave the commission the power to temporary suspend a club’s permit for public safety issues. Even with threat of temporary suspension, it was “business as usual” for problem clubs who simply ignored the warnings. In the case of the Suede club, there was a history of violence that went back a number of years. At the time of the February shooting, the Entertainment Commission had limited authority over the club and it took the City Attorney’s office to initiate a temporary closure as they go to court to seek a permanent closure of the club.
At the moment, the Entertainment commission can only close a club for 90 days for public safety issues. It can revoke a clubs permit for making false statements on a permit application; failing to pay permit fees; or failing to surrender the permit during a change of ownership. With the new ordinance, city officials hope the violence will come to an end.