Supe intensifies call for events office

The City moved closer Tuesday to creating a special events office after failing to set up an alternative Halloween event meant to keep throngs of people from attending an unofficial Halloween party in the Castro neighborhood.

On Tuesday, Supervisor Bevan Dufty, whose district includes the Castro, asked the city attorney to draft legislation that would create a special events office within the Mayor’s Office. The special events office would serve as a one-stop shop for event promoters and work toward setting up and attracting special events citywide.

Dufty said he made the request because he experienced a “weakness in the city structure” when it came to creating an alternative to the Halloween party in the Castro, which has been plagued by violence in the past.

City officials failed to do so after a promoter working with The City on an alternative event withdrew. City officials then launched a public-relations campaign informing locals that the Halloween party was cancelled and to go elsewhere, while also putting in place a security plan in case people do show up anyway.

The special events office proposal also highlights another problem at City Hall — a permitting process described by some city officials as a “nightmare” or “Byzantine.”

Small-business owners, people who want to film in The City and promoters are among those faced with the hurdles of paying for and obtaining numerous city permits.

City officials are attempting to resolve the permit challenges. Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier plans on introducing legislation to streamline the permit process for film productions and Mayor Gavin Newsom put on the November ballot a measure that would create a one-stop-shop for small businesses to obtain permits.

There is an “ad hoc system” for attracting and promoting special events, there is a “fragmented permitting process” in place, and community involvement for special events needs improvement, according to a joint report issued Tuesday by the Office of the Controller and the Office of the Legislative Analyst.

The Entertainment Commission is supposed to facilitate the permitting process for special events, but “it lacks the capacity to effectively carry them out,” the report said.

“San Francisco could benefit economically and culturally from additional special events, yet no city agency currently focuses on attracting, creating and promoting new events,” the report also found.

The idea has the support of Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Newsom’s spokesman Nathan Ballard said, “It will be one-stop shopping for big events.”

jsabatini@examiner.com

Each day until voters go to the polls Nov. 6, The Examiner lays odds on local figures beating Mayor Gavin Newsom. Check out our exclusive blog: San Francisco's Next Mayor?

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