City looks to bounce club loiterers

Late-night revelers could not legally hang out in front of a bar or club for more than three minutes, under new legislation announced Thursday.

The City’s various nightclubs scenes — particulary in North Beach and SoMa — have become hot spots for violence. In 2007, four of The City’s 98 homicides were nightclub-related, and 15 percent of assaults occurred in, around or resulted from a dispute in a nightclub, according to statistics from the Police Department. So far this year, two of the 12 homicides were nightclub- related.

Mayor Gavin Newsom introduced the no-loitering law Thursday along with a package of three other ordinances aimed at curbing violence in and around late-night clubs in The City.

The anti-loitering ordinance would apply between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. and would make it illegal to stand around within 10 feet of a club for more than three minutes. It would not apply to people taking a cigarette break or hailing a cab, officials said.

The legislation requires that a person be warned several times before the police are called, said Bob Davis, executive director of the Entertainment Commission.

An attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union said loitering laws “always raise the danger that they will not be enforced properly.”

“If you’re going to have a law like this, fair enforcement would require the police to enforce it against an elderly well-dressed woman just as they would against a group of young men,” ACLU lawyer Michael Risher said. “And that seems unlikely to happen in reality.”

Another ordinance would require promoters to obtain permits for events they hold in nightclubs — if they hold more than one event in a year — to put direct responsibility for the event with the promoter, city officials said.

The third ordinance grants emergency powers to the director of The City’s Entertainment Commission to suspend permits for noise and safety violations. The fourth ordinance would require late-night operations — open from 2 to 6 a.m. — to submit security plans to The City for approval.

Audrey Joseph, President of the Entertainment Commission, said the proposed ordinances would affect 800-900 establishments in The City.

dsmith@examiner.com

Move it along

» In 2007, four homicides were night club related; so far, two homicides in 2008 have been blamed on San Francisco clubs.

» 15 percent of assaults in 2007 were in, near, around or resulted from a dispute in a nightclub.

» Proposed legislation would punish late-night revelers loitering outside of clubs, with a first-time fine of between $50 and $100. A second infraction could lead up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.

Source: Police Department, Mayor’s Office

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