In San Francisco, North Beach’s Broadway corridor is a street unlike any other, with bright signs advertising titty dancers and $8 Bud Lights, hordes of Bridge-and-Tunnelers-and-maybe-sometime-BARTers decorating the neon-splashed streets with their vomit and pee, and same hordes mixing with the locals and occasionally dabbling in a lil shootin‘ and stabbin‘.
So, about 14 months ago, the Mayor and Supervisor Sophie Maxwell introduced stricter rules over loitering and gathering in front of clubs, ostensibly to make it easier for cops to clean up the crowds, but the cops had qualms about these rules then and still do now.
Quite the opposite, the police captain in charge of safeguarding this veritable 24/7 bacchanalia — in which 700 of the city’s 3400 liquor licenses, a full 20 percent, are located — argued Monday morning. In fact, he warned that the Broadway brouhaha could be the identity of ALL S.F. streets, from La Playa to The Embarcadero, if proposed tweaks to the laws regulating nightclub permitting are allowed to go forward.
Those ominous words came from Captain James Dudley of Central Station, but it was Deputy Chief Kevin Cashman who took point on lambasting the proposed changes, part of a general overhaul of nightclub law that’s been in the works for some 14 months (and that was forced to wait a month for public airing, as the SFPD missed a meeting March 23 on the same legislation, and will wait another month for a vote after cops, Supervisors and Mayors Office of Criminal Justice head Kevin Ryan squabbled over what exactly the law changes mean).
The SFPD has long made known its opposition to its currently-limited powers over nightclub operations, ever since the voters elected to create the Entertainment Commission, which took away the job of approving permits for clubs and club owners from the cops. As a resident of Broadway testified, when police are asked what they can do to police the regular “mayhem” in the neighborhood, they are quoted as saying, “Nothing.”
The currently-proposed tweaks to the law, according to Ryan, do nothing more than clean up the regulatory language and “put more tools into the toolbox” (his metaphor, not ours) of cops and the Entertainment Commission when it comes to enforcing the law, shutting down problem clubs, and denying permits for after-hours events, of which there are about 12 a year.
But these laws would “open the floodgates” for all-night reveling, boisterousness and general bedlam, Cashman insisted. His main concern is the phrase “these [after-hour] permits shall be granted,” which means that club owners seeking to operate between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. will get permission to do so as long as a host of requirements — from hiring security guards to providing revelers with food — are met.
“Do you really think this [delaying and opposition] is helping?” Dufty asked, showing us his incredulous face. “Do you really think the Entertainment Commission is going to start handing out [permits] like candy?”
After some back-and-forths, the Committee agreed to hold off a final vote on the laws for another month, but Ryan put it in simple terms.
“We are not expanding anything, we are not changing anything,” said Ryan, who was quick to mention that the Mayor — a restaurant and club owner himself — recognizes how important the bar and strip club industries are to the city’s economy. “It was our goal to give more tools to the police department. I believe we have been fairly successful, but not everyone’s happy.”
The redefinitions will wait for another month, but in the meantime, we wonder: as a resident of Ocean Beach, when can we expect our titty bar? The Internet’s good for only so much, you know.