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Compromise reached on sale
of alcohol at North Beach festivals

By Angela Hokanson, Bay City News Service

June 8, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Both the Precious Cheese North Beach Festival and the North Beach Jazz Festival will go on as planned this summer, after a compromise solution was reached on where alcohol could be sold and consumed during the events, according to the organizers of the two separate festivals.

Officials from the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, representatives from the mayor's office, officials from the San Francisco Police Department and the event organizers met on Friday to attempt to find common ground on the issues of alcohol sales and access to Washington Square Park.

On May 30, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission decided not to allow the sale of alcohol in Washington Square Park during either event.

After that decision, the organizers of the North Beach Jazz Festival said they might have to cancel the event if the Commission did not reverse its decision, according to Robert Kowal, one of the directors of the festival.

The Precious Cheese North Beach Festival would have lost an estimated $40,000 if the Commission's decision on alcohol sales had stuck, according to Marsha Garland, the executive director of the North Beach Chamber of Commerce.

According to Garland, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom did not want to lose either event, and asked his staff to help broker a compromise.

Through the compromise solution reached on Friday, alcohol will not be sold at all in Washington Square Park -- it will be sold in beer gardens on streets adjacent to the park -- but alcohol may be consumed in a section of the park.

At both events, the western section of the park will be an alcohol free zone, and in the eastern section of the park, people over 21 years of age who have wristbands may drink alcohol.

The compromise solution addresses the issue of access for all to the park, which was one of the primary reasons recreation and park officials wanted to ban alcohol in the park, according to Garland.

The recreation and park officials were willing to re-examine the issues related to alcohol sales when they saw that the viability of the festivals was threatened, Kowal said.

The compromise "is a win for everyone, we think,'' Kowal said. Kowal said he is relieved to be able to dedicate his time to preparing for the jazz festival instead of trying to save it.

The organizers of both festivals are not sure how the new alcohol sale arrangements will affect the revenue brought in by the events.

The Precious Cheese North Beach Festival takes place June 17-18 and the North Beach Jazz Festival will take place July 26 30.

Officials from the Recreation and Park Department could not be reached for comment.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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