Proposed legislation seeks to limit bars along Lower Polk Street 

click to enlarge Quieting things down: Board of Supervisors President David Chiu’s proposed legislation addresses complaints that Polk Street’s nightlife has become too rowdy. - S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • S.F. Examiner File Photo
  • Quieting things down: Board of Supervisors President David Chiu’s proposed legislation addresses complaints that Polk Street’s nightlife has become too rowdy.

Sustained neighborhood complaints about raucous nightlife have led one San Francisco official to suggest prohibiting new bars, liquor stores and shops selling tobacco products from opening along a six-block stretch of Polk Street.

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, whose District 3 includes the portion of Polk Street dotted with such businesses, said the concentration of watering holes has resulted in unruly behavior that causes problems for area residents.

He introduced legislation Tuesday seeking to prohibit more such businesses from opening on the lower part of Polk Street that runs from California Street to O’Farrell Street. That area is home to 60 businesses with alcohol permits.

Chiu’s legislation blames such businesses for “numerous peace, health, safety and general welfare problems in the area, including loitering, littering, public drunkenness, defacement and damaging of structures, and pedestrian obstructions, as well as traffic circulation, parking and noise problems on public streets and neighborhood lot.”

This is detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of area residents, the legislation states, “including fear for the safety of children, elderly residents, and visitors to the area.”

Existing bars would be able to continue to operate. But the legislation could thin out their numbers over time. If any existing business became nonoperational for six months, its alcohol permit would no longer be valid within the area affected by the legislation.

Meanwhile, restaurants hoping to serve alcohol or provide entertainment within this zone would need to obtain a special conditional-use permit, which could be appealed to the Board of Supervisors.

“The goal of the legislation is to ensure that nightlife and business activity continues to thrive on Polk Street while creating appropriate controls to keep the neighborhood vibrant, diverse and safe,” Chiu said.

The proposed controls, which would create what is known as an alcohol-restricted-use district, are similar to those already in place for Divisadero, Third and Mission streets, Chiu said.

The legislation was drafted with the support of the Lower Polk Neighbors, whose chairman, Ron Case, said the problem has persisted for about three years.

“It’s just to calm things down a little,” Case said. “It’s just gotten out of hand over the weekends. There are so many people.”

Chiu said he also is considering similar restrictions for the stretch of Polk Street north of California Street.

The full board would need to approve the proposal for it to become law.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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