Though violence at San Francisco nightclubs has captured headlines and forced restrictions and closures of certain venues, one city supervisor is hoping an economic study will shed light on the benefits of the local entertainment industry.
District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener today introduced legislation asking the city controller’s office for an extensive review of the economic impact of the industry, including how many jobs it creates, how much tax revenue it brings in, and its affect on tourism.
“What I want to do is take a step back, so that in the future when we’re making public policy…we know exactly what we’re dealing with,” Wiener told the Board of Supervisors this afternoon.
There have been several shootings at or outside nightclubs in recent years, prompting the city to impose stricter security measures and to seek, extreme cases, to shutter the clubs.
While the media may focus on violence, Wiener said there needed to be an examination also of the positive impacts of the city’s nightlife industry.
“It’s always in a negative context; it’s that someone just got shot, or something bad just happened,” he said in an interview earlier in the day. “What I’m trying to do here is to try to create a broader context.”
Wiener called the city’s clubs, bars, restaurants, music venues, street fairs and festivals “the cultural lifeblood of our city.”
The economic study could take months, after which Wiener said he’ll call a public hearing to discuss it.
Jocelyn Kane, executive director of the city’s Entertainment Commission, said she supports the study. The commission regulates about 400 city venues that serve food and drink and also provide entertainment.
But with a small staff, Kane said the commission has had little time to promote the entertainment industry, a task with which it is also charged.
Kane said she would eventually like to see a specific city position created that would be devoted to the economic development of the entertainment industry.
Kane and the California Music and Culture Association, a local trade association of venue owners and operators, both cited a 2004 study that found New York City’s nightlife industry generated $9.7 billion in economic activity.
“That economic report was a game changer for the industry,” CMAC President Sean Manchester said in a statement. “The results really illustrated the massive impact the nightlife industry had on the citywide economy–and thus, a more empowered voice at the decision-making table.”
Wiener said he was unsure what legislative efforts would come from the study.
“I don’t want to speculate on what we might pursue,” Wiener said, though he noted ongoing controversial issues such as the charging of fees for street fairs, and an effort by the Police Department to require IDs and metal detectors at clubs. Wiener said he opposes the latter.
Wiener also mentioned the possibility of the creation of “nightlife zones” in certain neighborhoods to try to balance the desires of the entertainment industry with the needs of residents in the area.
Ari Burack, Bay City News