Comedian Dave Chappelle speaks at a news conference aimed at saving The Punch Line comedy club, which is facing eviction, at City Hall on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

The Punch Line may get the last laugh

Legislation to help prevent the displacement of the iconic comedy club moves toward approval

Legislation that could help save the Punch Line comedy club moved closer to approval Monday.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents the district that includes the venue, introduced legislation to impose an initial 45-day moratorium to prevent any other type of uses in the event space at One Maritime Plaza other than entertainment.

The moratorium is meant to encourage Morgan Stanley, owner of the space, to renew the lease with Live Nation, owner of the Punch Line. Peskin introduced the proposal two weeks ago, following a rally on the steps of City Hall to save the venue with comedians Dave Chappelle and W. Kamau Bell, among others.

The proposal was approved by the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Transportation Committee Monday and the full board is expected to approve it Tuesday. It takes at least nine votes of the 11 member board to approve and all 11 have signed on as sponsors of the legislation.

At the rally, Peskin suggested Google was the tenant that would displace the comedy venue. However, the day after the rally he said received a phone call from a senior official at Google who told him they want to be “part of the solution” to save the Punch Line. Earlier this year, Google leased office space next to the venue.

“Godspeed to Live Nation and Google and Morgan Stanley,” Peskin said Monday at the committee hearing. “May a longterm lease be entered into before August, when the lease expires.”

The moratorium could be extended up to 18 months through subsequent votes.

“I am hopeful that those negotiations and conversations will happen in the next 45-days and that we won’t have to extend the interim moratorium,” Peskin said. “It seems like everybody is laughing in the same direction.”

Local comedians turned out at the hearing to praise the venue and back the legislation to save it.

“I want to thank you guys for the opportunity to let me pursue my personal love of interim zoning moratoriums as well as my love for comedy,” said San Francisco resident Brooke Heinichen.

She said that the Punch Line is “the best and most promising place to help grow and start a career in comedy. They invest so much in local comedians.”

“You get addicted when you perform on that stage,” she added.


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Comedian W. Kamau Bell speaks at a news conference aimed at saving The Punch Line comedy club, which is facing eviction, at City Hall on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

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