Event promoters responsible for parties at venues such as clubs and street fairs have been unregulated by The City, but as a result of recent shootings and killings associated with San Francisco’s vibrant nightlife, these party pushers may now be required to register.
After the recent shootings of a patron outside a Mission Bay nightclub and a German tourist near Union Square, San Francisco’s nightlife has come under intense scrutiny as city officials work to counter the violence.
“We have had no oversight over a number of fly-by-night party promoters whose activities and events have unfortunately led to a number of avoidable tragedies,” Board of Supervisors President David Chiu said Tuesday.
Chiu introduced legislation that would require event promoters doing business in San Francisco to register online, with the information posted publicly. Entertainment venues would only be permitted to do business with registered promoters. Violators would face permit suspensions or revocations and fines.
Promoters with a record of putting on events in or outside San Francisco that resulted in violence or other troubling behavior would face tougher regulations, including more-extensive security, liability insurance and criminal background checks of employees.
Those in the industry are wary of increased regulations, saying they could drive events elsewhere or make the business overly cumbersome.
The California Music and Culture Association, an advocacy group representing promoters and venue owners, has yet to take a position on the proposal.
Sean Manchester, a nightclub owner and president of the CMAC board, said blaming the recent violence on nightclubs is a “knee-jerk” reaction when “a lot of this is a greater societal issue.”
“In an industry as a whole, there’s probably a few bad apples, whether they don’t know or don’t care,” Manchester said.
Local promoter Demetrius Chapin-Rienzo, who declined to comment on Chiu’s proposal, said that while “the finger-pointing toward nightlife has been problematic and not always fair,” he said that “in terms of promoters, there needs to be accountability as well … to help ensure the vitality and safety of promoted events.”
“What we call the other 9-to-5 [nightlife] is a very big economic base and a big reason why San Francisco is a popular tourist destination,” Chapin-Rienzo said.
Chiu said that “the intent of my legislation is to have as minimal an impact as possible on good party promoters while ensuring that The City closely regulates party promoters that have a history of problems.”
The legislation would require approval by the Board of Supervisors.
This year, police have attributed four fatalities to activity associated with clubs.
Lawon Hall, 19
Hall was shot and four others wounded in a hail of gunfire in front of Club Suede at Fisherman’s Wharf
Stephen Powell, 19
Powell was shot and three others injured during the Pink Saturday celebration in the Castro
Lee Farley, 39
Farley was shot during an argument police say started inside Jelly’s dance club
Mechthild Schröer, 50
An innocent tourist was killed as she walked with her husband near Union Square; police say the shooters were unable to go inside a dance party for teens
Crackdown on violence targets hotels
Hotels that hold weddings, holiday parties and other large events are under scrutiny as city officials crack down on the entertainment industry due to recent violence connected with parties at various venues.
The hotels that have events with live music, dancing and DJs are required to have special entertainment permits just like small nightclubs, though some of those hotels may not be in compliance.
The City requires clubs, restaurants and even piano bars to apply for a permit, which has an initial cost of $1,576 and an annual fee of about $450.
Without naming specific hotels, the Entertainment Commission’s sound inspector, Vajra Granelli, said there were incidents of violence in summer connected to large events at Bay Area hotels.
“In the past, this has been pretty low on our priority list,” Granelli said. “This is something we’re starting to look at much more closely.”
Jocelyn Kane, the acting director of the Entertainment Commission, said the issue was more of a housekeeping problem than hotels deliberately skirting the rules.
“Some of them are not permitted, but that’s mostly because of staff turnover,” she said, adding that The City didn’t know specifically how many hotels have permits.
Patricia Breslin, executive director of the Hotel Council trade group, said she was “taken aback” by the idea. Major hotels do everything they can to comply with city laws, she said.
“We all are concerned about safety,” Breslin said. “We intend to work closely with the Entertainment Commission on any safety efforts.” – Brent Begin