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
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
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
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.
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