Proposal would ban some new liquor businesses on Broadway in North Beach 

click to enlarge North Beach
  • Mike Koozmin/the s.f. examiner
  • Neighborhood groups have tried for years to tame the party on two blocks of Broadway in North Beach.
Two blocks in North Beach, which are bedecked with overhead neon signs, have for some time been the neighborhood’s bane, but a new proposal looks to limit the kinds of new businesses along Broadway’s strip club row for the next two years as a way to help clean up the area.

Legislation put forward by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, whose district includes North Beach, would amend the planning code and create a Broadway Alcohol Restricted Use District. That district would create a moratorium on new bars in the two blocks of Broadway from Columbus Avenue to Montgomery Street. Liquor establishments that serve food would not be limited.

“A broad community coalition of neighbors and merchants has been working diligently to address the public safety and nightlife issues that have plagued Broadway for years, and this proposal is important to their efforts,” Chiu wrote in an email to The San Francisco Examiner. “The community has made it clear that it wants fewer of the kinds of clubs that have caused problems historically.”

The legislation, which was postponed last week at the Planning Commission, has its opponents.

“I might have selfish interests, but I’m not thinking it’s a good thing and I don’t think my interests are particularly selfish,” said Green Tortoise Hostel owner Gardner Kent, who said it’s a misguided attempt to clean up the street.

Jordan Angle, whose family has owned property on the two-block stretch for years and has been trying to remodel and open a nightclub there, said the law will backfire.

“General moratorium we think will be disastrous for the neighborhood at large,” he said.

The proposal comes after years of efforts to increase safety on Broadway. Recent efforts by neighborhood groups to clear the area of violent and rowdy crowds include creating a neighborhood benefit district, Top of Broadway Community Benefit District, to collect dues and use the funds to police and clean up the street.

Stephanie Greenburg, a resident of the area and head of the business district, said the code change is a way to discourage certain businesses and promote more restaurants and other types of operations on the blocks.

“This is not prohibiting liquor licenses,” she said. “There are only two that are being restricted and they are new licenses.”

But Kent said the whole thing is misguided since it overly focuses on nightclubs.

“They have a dream that Broadway will be a place we want to go,” he said.

Kent said all the moratorium will accomplish is making the existing liquor licenses for bars, called type 48s, more valuable.

Joe Carouba, who owns BSC Management, which runs The Penthouse Club and Centerfolds, among others, said the moratorium won’t impact property owners or businesses that now operate.

“I don’t believe it makes it any harder to get a 48 in the area unless it’s on those two blocks that already have many 48s,” Carouba wrote in an email. “As for giving the current 48 license holders an advantage, I don’t think so. For the simple reason it’s only for two years, and it’s only the two blocks.”

Nader Marvi, owner of the club Monroe, says the idea of the moratorium is to ultimately make sure people who run bars and nightclubs in the area are responsible. The problems have mostly come from clubs with huge crowds and irresponsible promoters, he said.

“I’m not saying strip clubs are not the problem,” he said, but clubs bring party buses and larger crowds.

Still, Marvi said Kent has a point about the type of businesses that are opening in the area.

“If I take my 48 license, no one is going to come here with a [restaurant liquor license] because it cost too much to build a restaurant, but that’s the case with or without the moratorium,” Marvi said.

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

Bio:
Born and raised on a houseboat in Sausalito, Lamb has written for newspapers in New York City, Utah and the San Joaquin Valley. He was most recently an editor at the San Luis Obispo Tribune for nearly three years. He has written for The S.F. Examiner since 2013 and covers criminal justice and planning.
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