Late-night noise and violence in the Inner Richmond district have residents fighting to prevent a 24-hour restaurant from reopening between 2 and 6 a.m. — and recent police stats could boost the effort.
Residents say they do not have an issue with the Jack in the Box restaurant at 11th Avenue and Geary Boulevard, but there are public safety problems that come from inebriated people gathering in a small location late at night.
The issue came to a head Thanksgiving Day when Cal Fire firefighter Albert Bartal, 29, was run down by a sport utility vehicle following a 2:45 a.m. argument inside the restaurant, said David Lee, a small-business owner and co-chair of the Richmond Community Police Advisory Board. Eduardo Esquivel, 22, of South San Francisco has been charged in connection with the incident.
Jack in the Box ceased late-night operations Dec. 5. From that date to Jan. 11, stats from the Police Department’s CompStat system and crime maps for Geary Boulevard between 10th and 11th avenues show three service calls made — for petty theft, a stolen vehicle and a person with a gun.
However, between July 15 and Nov. 25, data show about seven calls a month for the same area — including 13 noise disturbances between midnight and 5 a.m.
The police advisory board reported that there were 270 calls made to the Jack in the Box area in 2010, the majority of which occurred between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. Twenty-three were considered high priority.
The restaurant has not been operating after 2 a.m. since Dec. 5 because owners and police realized the business did not have the proper permits. The owners did pay fees and file an application with the Entertainment Commission to be open 24 hours.
Jennifer Cunanan, a Jack in the Box franchise liaison, said the restaurant has been operating for 24 hours since 1988, and the issue is more a paperwork oversight than anything else.
“It is an unfortunate incident that occurred the [morning of Thanksgiving],” Cunanan said. “But we are a good neighbor. We have implemented the recommendations given to us by the neighborhood and SF Safe.”
The owners say they have hired security guards, improved lighting and added cameras to increase safety.
Neighbors say those changes came two months after the recommendations were given, and problems have stopped since the restaurant ceased late-night operations.
“People have said for years it’s been like an alarm clock at 2 a.m.,” Lee said. “Now we can sleep through the night, and we feel safer to be shopping and walking around. It has transformed our neighborhood immediately around Jack in the Box, and we are here to fight to keep it this way.”
The Entertainment Commission will discuss at its Tuesday meeting whether or not to allow Jack in the Box to operate between 2 and 6 a.m.
Since the Jack in the Box in the Inner Richmond has closed between 2 and 6 a.m., calls for service have dropped to less than half their prior rate.
7 Service calls per month while open 24 hours between July 15 and Nov. 25
3 Service calls per month while open just 20 hours from Dec. 5 through Jan. 11
270 Total calls for service in 2010
Source: San Francisco Police Department
Supervisor Eric Mar is creating a community safety plan for his Richmond district to address increased violence and late-night noise disturbances.
Mar introduced the idea at a recent Entertainment Commission meeting, where a permit to operate the Jack in the Box restaurant at 4649 Geary Blvd. late at night was under consideration.
Following Mar’s request, the commission tabled the decision to allow residents to meet with the business owners to discuss late-night safety measures.
“I share much of the complaints of noise and fights and safety,” Mar said of incidents that happen near the Jack in the Box. “I hope to develop a comprehensive plan that addresses Jack in the Box, but also other nuisances including bars and massage parlors in the area.”
Neighbors of the Jack in the Box say it attracts a loud, rowdy and drunken crowd after bars close, and in the six weeks since the establishment has been closed after 2 a.m. the neighborhood has been quieter and safer. A hit-and-run incident early Thanksgiving day led to the discovery that the restaurant did not have permits to operate from 2 to 6 a.m.
Mar said Jack in the Box is not the only worrisome business.
“Jack in the Box is one issue sprouted over years, but there are other issues,” Mar said. “This is about setting up an institution of neighbors so they can meet and talk about safety concerns.”