Outside alcohol banned at North Beach jazzfest

No outside alcohol will be permitted within Washington Square Park during the North Beach Jazz Festival, and patrons should be prepared to have their bags checked by security.

The changes come on the heels of a June 2 compromise brokered by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to allow alcohol at the event after the Recreation and Park Commission decided not to allow adult beverages in Washington Square because of neighbor complaints. Under the compromise no outside alcohol will be allowed at the event, which will force attendees to have their bags searched before entering the park.

More than 7,000 people have attended the two-day festival in the past, which will be held on July 29 and 30 this year and features live music in Washington Square Park.

The organizers had threatened to cancel the event following the alcohol ban and, most recently, because of a $25,000 bill from San Francisco Police Department to have 16 officers patrol the event.

However, after a series of meetings, organizers have reached an agreement to have police secure the event for a reduced rate, according to Robert Kowal, the director of the North Beach Jazz Festival. He said organizers were confused why the bill had increased from $4,650 last year. But after meeting twice this week, the police agreed to reduce the bill to $8,700 because organizers agreed to spend close to $15,000 to double their own security.

“We sat down with the police and it seems that our differences

weren’t as far apart as we originally thought,” Kowal said. “The police’s paramount goal is to protect public safety, and we respect that.”

Capt. James Dudley of the San Francisco Police Department said the costs were initially higher this year because the event is more difficult to control and the public cannot be expected to pay for extra security for an event in their neighborhood that generates income.

Under the compromise, Kowal said police felt comfortable that public safety would be ensured with seven officers patrolling the area on Saturday and five on Sunday, with the increased security provided by the festival.

sfarooq@examiner.com

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