Changes include easing burdensome permit requirements for DJs before 10 pm, allowing outdoor music performances, and enhancing enforcement powers of Entertainment Commission

At today's Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Scott Wiener will introduce legislation to improve access to live music while strengthening the enforcement powers of the Entertainment Commission to ensure compliance with city ordinances. These amendments to the Police Code include classifying music by DJs as live performances, which will allow for less onerous permitting performances before 10 pm; allowing limited outdoor music in plazas and courtyards; and enhancing and expanding the enforcement powers of the Entertainment Commission. The legislation will also clarify and clean up outdated or redundant parts of the Code.

"Entertainment and nightlife are an essential part of San Francisco's cultural and economic vibrancy," said Supervisor Wiener. "This legislation fosters live entertainment while also heightening our ability to monitor and regulate bad actors. The Entertainment Commission will be more effective in issuing permits and enforcing the law.  The legislation recognizes that safe and responsible entertainment is key to our city's success."

The legislation will make several changes, including:

  • Easing the permit process for non-late-night DJ performances. In 2011, the Board of Supervisors passed legislation to create a new type of permit, the "limited live performance" permit, for non-late-night live music in bars, restaurants, and cafes.  The permit is an alternative to full "place of entertainment" permits required of night clubs, which entail a very onerous and expensive process.  Supervisor Wiener's legislation will allow venues with limited live performance permits to allow DJ performances until 10 pm under that permit.  The legislation requires the Entertainment Commission to conduct sound tests to ensure that the DJ performances comply with the sound limits of the limited live performance legislation.
  • Allowing Limited Live Performances at outdoor plazas, courtyards or similar outdoor spaces. Under current law, it is very challenging - even impossible - for private or public plazas to obtain permitting for outdoor performances.  For example, the plaza adjacent to the Eagle Tavern or Ghiradelli Square technically cannot have ongoing music 
  • performance permits.  Supervisor Wiener's legislation will allow these outdoor spaces to obtain music permits and to activate these venues.
  • Increasing the enforcement powers of the Entertainment Commission. The Entertainment Commission currently has limited ability to suspend permits for violations, often having to choose between a minor suspension and a complete revocation.  In addition, the Commission cannot enforce against people who engage in performances without bothering to obtain a permit and cannot assess civil penalties against violators.  The legislation will give the Commission authority to impose longer permit suspensions, will, for the first time, allow the Commission to enforce against people who don't obtain permits, and will allow the Commission to assess and enforce civil penalties against permit violators.
  • "Ensuring a vibrant and responsible nightlife is the mission of the Entertainment Commission," said Entertainment Commission Director Jocelyn Kane. "By adding more tools to the Commission's enforcement powers, while improving the permitting process and adding clarity to the law, we can work more effectively and efficiently with business owners, neighborhood residents and the Police Department to create a safe and responsible nightlife environment."

    In March of last year, at the request of Supervisor Wiener, the City Economist released a study quantifying the economic impact of San Francisco nightlife. That report found that in 2010 the industry had a $4.2 billion impact on San Francisco, employing 48,000 people and furnishing the City with $55 million in tax revenue. 

    "We need to encourage a flourishing nightlife that not only marks San Francisco as a cultural capital, but also creates jobs and brings in revenue for essential City services," said Supervisor Wiener. "These amendments are part of that broader strategy."

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