Broadway crackdown gets mixed reviews

As the second weekend of a crackdown on violence and drinking in San Francisco’s Broadway corridor gets under way, reactions to the open-ended program have been mixed in the neighborhood and at City Hall.

Police added extra officers and worked with the Sheriff’s Department and other city agencies last Friday and Saturday nights to try to curb what some have said is a North Beach nightlife scene that has gotten out of hand. They made misdemeanor and alcohol arrests, as well as cracking down on clubs that sold alcohol too late or served inebriated customers.

The crackdown is a city effort to curb the trouble reportedly caused by drunken partiers who flock to the neighborhood from other parts of the Bay Area on the weekends. Over the last year the Broadway corridor has seen an escalation of public drunkenness and fights, according to many merchants, residents and city officials.

The Mayor’s Office and Supervisor Aaron Peskin, whose district includes North Beach, laud the effort as a success. But others in The City’s business and political communities questioned the allocation of police resources and the method of enforcement.

“We’ve been sitting here asking for that kind of attention as the bodies pile up,” Supervisor Tom Ammiano said during a meeting of the Board of Supervisors’ Committee on Ending Gun and Gang Violence this week. Ammiano spoke after Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice head Allan Nance lauded the crackdown as an example of stepped-up law enforcement.

On Monday, Nance put The City’s homicides at 69. Most of the killings havebeen in the Bayview, Mission and Western Addition areas.

“The priority has been and continues to be the violent crime that we are experiencing across The City,” Nance said, noting that City Hall has devoted extra resources to the Bayview, Western Addition and Mission as well as North Beach.

Within North Beach, other critics claim the enforcement is unfair to businesses. North Beach Chamber of Commerce President Marsha Garland said the uniformed police presence drove off some customers. She said businesses said police were too invasive in their enforcement, citing clubs for serving after 2 a.m. and blaming the actions of problem patrons on management.

But police Capt. James Dudley, who heads North Beach’s Central Station, said, “I think responsible management is the key in helping us solve the problem, and I think everyone involved understands that. You should see more stringent security inside clubs. ID’s are being checked, intoxication levels are being checked.”

Examiner staff writer Sajid Farooq contributed to this report.

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