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San Francisco nightlife livening up city coffers

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The City Controller’s Office report also says 36 percent of nighttime revelers in San Francisco are visiting from other counties.

San Francisco’s nightlife scene is giving new meaning to the term “entertainment value.”

A report released Monday by the City Controller’s Office estimates the nighttime entertainment industry contributes $4.2 billion to the local economy, employs 48,000 people and pays $55 million in taxes to The City.

Supervisor Scott Wiener requested the first-of-its-kind report shortly after he was elected in 2010. He hoped the report would shed light on the economic impacts of nightlife.

“Entertainment and nightlife are frequent subjects of discussion at City Hall, in the press and in the community, and there is frequently focus on the negatives,” Wiener said. “We sometimes even pass legislation based on these sporadic negative events. In the future, my view is this study will provide policymakers the data to make decision.”

The report surveyed 3,200 nighttime establishments — including restaurants, bars, music venues and art galleries — that are open after 8 p.m. Additionally, more than 300 people were surveyed about where and how often they go out.

Ted Egan, The City’s chief economist, said the number of people visiting from other Bay Area counties was the biggest surprise — an estimated 36 percent.

“We’re used to thinking that tourism is from around the country or the world,” Egan said. “In fact, many visitors live in the Bay Area and are coming here in the evening because of the nightlife we have to offer.”

Egan also said $2.2 billion of the $4.2 billion in economic impact comes from people who don’t live in San Francisco.

Overall, the nightlife industry contributes 10 percent of The City’s tax revenue, which is roughly $520 million, Egan said.

The report did not include outdoor festivals such as Pride, the Folsom Street Fair or Chinese New Year festivities. However, a study released by San Francisco State University last month estimated Outside Lands, a three-day concert and art festival in Golden Gate Park, has a $60 million impact on local businesses. Supervisors hope to look at street fairs and music events and evaluate their impact on the economy.

The numbers support the idea that San Francisco is a desirable location for people and businesses because of the vibrant nightlife, the Mayor’s Office said.

“The numbers are staggering,” Jason Elliot, a representative of the Mayor’s Office, told the Board of Supervisors’ land-use committee Monday. “The tech companies want to be here for a number of reasons. Not only because the talent is here, but that talent is here because it’s fun to live here.”


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