Drug overdoses spur effort to outlaw raves

The beat will not go on under a proposal to ban raves in California.

The Anti-Raves Act of 2011 would ban public events that boom prerecorded music for more than 3½ hours at night, according to legislation introduced by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, on Wednesday. Promoters would be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined $10,000 or twice the receipts for the event, whichever is greater.

The proposal — in response to several deaths and illnesses related to Ecstasy use at all-night dance parties — is directed at events on public land. It carves out a major exception for bars, clubs, theaters and other venues that are licensed to hold events.

“Raves foster an environment that threatens the health and safety of our youth,” Ma said in a statement. “The introduction of AB 74 is the first step toward eliminating these dangerous events.”

The legislation comes in response to drug overdoses at two events at the Cow Palace, a Daly City venue controlled by the state, and one at the Los Angeles Coliseum, where someone died.

After the second set of overdoses at the Cow Palace, venue CEO Joe Barkett announced that the historical property would stop hosting rave-type events. He has since made decisions on a case-by-case basis, saying he doubts there is an easy way to define a rave.

“That’s just not something that’s easy to define, especially in legislation,” said Barkett, who spoke with Ma about the legislation. “[Ma] acknowledged to me that she knows it’s difficult to define, but I think she’s just trying to start a dialogue.”

Ma acknowledged that an all-out ban is only a starting point, and the bill might go through several changes before it comes up for a vote. But she said with so many instances of drug-related illnesses in the past year or two, the time had come for action.

“I feel that urgency is needed to protect our young people who are being put at risk at these types of events,” Ma said.

Sean Manchester, the owner of dance club Mighty in The City and president of the California Music and Culture Association, worried that the law would affect many events in San Francisco, such as New Year’s Eve at City Hall and street festivals.

“One of the big problems we have in San Francisco is that there aren’t many venues to host a DJ that draws a lot of fans,” Manchester said.

Also, state Sen. Leland Yee has been crafting a bill geared toward making events safer.

“The senator’s position is that a ban on raves is not the right approach,” Yee spokesman Adam Keigwin said. “Raves are not the problem. It’s the activity that’s happening within these raves, without adequate law enforcement, that is the problem.”

Partying too hard

Several high-profile deaths and overdoses have occurred at raves in California this year:

January: One person dies and 18 are hospitalized at a New Year’s Eve rave at the publicly owned Los Angeles Coliseum.

May: Two people die after overdosing at a Cow Palace rave and five others are hospitalized in critical condition.

June: A 15-year-old girl dies of a drug overdose and 120 others are hospitalized at a rave at the L.A. Coliseum.

October: About a dozen people attending a Halloween party at the Cow Palace are hospitalized because of drugs.

LocalnewsUS

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Jill Bonny, owner of Studio Kazoku tattoo parlor in the Haight, tattoos client Lam Vo on Friday, March 5, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
No one was fighting for tattoo artists, so they started advocating for themselves

Jill Bonny has been tattooing in the Bay Area since 2000. Four… Continue reading

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted changes to The City's streets including Slow Streets closures to increase open space access and the Shared Spaces program, which allows businesses to use public right-of-ways for dining, retail and services. (Examiner illustration)
COVID is reshaping the streets of San Francisco

Walk down Page Street, which is closed to thru-traffic, and you might… Continue reading

At a rally in February, Monthanus Ratanapakdee, left, and Eric Lawson remember Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man who died after he was pushed to the pavement in San Francisco. (Ekevara Kitpowsong/Examiner file photo)
The criminal justice system can’t fix what’s wrong in our community

My 87-year-old mother walks gingerly, slowly, deliberately, one step in front of… Continue reading

Superintendent Vincent Matthews said some students and families who want to return will not be able to do so at this time. “We truly wish we could reopen schools for everyone,” he said. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFUSD sets April reopening date after reaching tentative agreement with teachers union

San Francisco Unified School District has set April 12 as its reopening… Continue reading

José Victor Luna and Maria Anabella Ochoa, who cite health reasons for continuing distance learning, say they have been enjoying walking in Golden Gate Park with their daughters Jazmin, a first grader, and Jessica, a third grader. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Some SFUSD families prefer distance learning

Health issues, classroom uncertainties among reasons for staying home

Most Read