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Howard Street fair has a new location to show Weird-ness

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The show may go on for the How Weird Street Faire.

After the event was nearly canceled last year, the fate of the How Weird Street Faire — at its new proposed location — will be decided today by The City’s festival planning department.

The electronic-music-based festival has been a staple on Howard Street since 2000, but noise complaints by residents resulted in city planning officials deciding that last year’s event would be the last at its longtime location at 12th and Howard streets.

Following months of neighborhood outreach, Brad Olsen, director of the World Peace Through Technology Organization — the group that puts on the event — has proposed a new site for the How Weird Street Faire at Second and Howard streets. The new location would occupy Howard Street between First and New Montgomery streets, Second Street between Howard and Mission streets, and portions of Natoma and Minna streets.

The final decision to approve the location, and a proposed May 4 date, will be made by The City’s Interdepartmental Staff Committee on Traffic and Transportation during its Thursday meeting.

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“I think The City kind of just wanted us to go away, but we thought it would be a shame if last year was the final How Weird festival,” said Olsen, whose festival drew approximately 10,000 people last year.

Olsen said the Second and Howard location is ideal for the festival because it has no Muni conflicts and there are plenty of nearby bars for partygoers to attend after the event shuts down. The area is also more business-oriented, easing the concerns of residential complaints, Olsen said.

Olsen hoped to hold the festival from noon to 8 p.m., but after discussions with officers from the San Francisco Police Department’s Southern Station, he said a 6 p.m. closing time would be sought.

“We want to minimize the impact of the street fair on neighborhood residents,” said Officer Daniel McDonagh, captain of the Southern Station. “Our goal is to have the festival finished in a reasonable amount of time.”

In an effort to prevent the discontent that marked last year’s festival, Olsen hired a neighborhood relations specialist, although some SoMa residents are still perplexed by the uproar that accompanied the 2007 How Weird festival.

“Of the 200 people on our mailing list, I don’t know of one person [who] did not like the fair,” said Jason Born of the SoMa West Neighborhood Interactive Group. “The majority of us thought the fair was great for the community and great for local businesses. It’s one of those events that is responsible and responsive.”

The City’s Interdepartmental Staff Committee on Traffic and Transportation originally denied the event operating permits last year after neighboring business owners and residents complained about loud music, traffic and people urinating and damaging property.

The permit was reinstated in February with stricter guidelines for the event.

wreisman@examiner.com

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