Newsom announces ordinance
to improve nightclub safety

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Published on February 28, 2008 with No Comments

By Ashley Wright

February 28, 2008

City leaders crowded into a South of Market nightclub this afternoon to announce proposed ordinances aimed at curbing violence in and around San Francisco clubs and entertainment venues.

Mayor Gavin Newsom introduced four pieces of proposed legislation, three of which address permits and one that focuses on loitering.

Newsom was joined by police Chief Heather Fong, Entertainment Commission President Audrey Joseph and Judge Kevin Ryan, head of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, all of whom spoke about the importance of improving safety for patrons and those who live and work around the city’s clubs and entertainment venues in light of recent violence.

“We have been very concerned over the last few years about an increase in violence occurring in and around these clubs and these venues,” Newsom said today.

Six homicides occurred at or near nightclubs and entertainment venues in 2007, and two have already occurred this year, according to Newsom.

The first proposed ordinance announced today would require promoters working at least two events each year to obtain a permit, allowing city officials to keep in contact with those doing business and holding events at nightclubs and other venues.

The second ordinance would give the director of the city’s Entertainment Commission emergency power to suspend permits in certain safety and noise situations.

The third would clarify the application requirements for extended-hour premises, requiring the businesses to create security plans to be approved by the Entertainment Commission.

The fourth piece of legislation would make it illegal to loiter within 10 feet of a club for more than 3 minutes between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m., except those waiting for a bus or other activity. Warnings would be given before citations.

At the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice’s first Nightlife Safety Summit in January, club owners and event promoters were asked to take part in efforts to stop recent violent acts, according to the mayor’s office.

“The entertainment community is proud to be a partner in the development of this legislation, as our venues benefit most when our customers feel safe,” Joseph said in a prepared statement. “This legislation gives greater authority to the Entertainment Commission to act quickly and effectively when violations do occur.”

Today, Newsom said proponents of the legislation recognize that some components, such as those in the loitering ordinance, are controversial, and officials look forward to discussing specifics. The proposed laws are not meant to be punitive, Newsom said, adding that the entertainment community is an important part of the city and has been included in the discussion about the legislation.

“People are going to these nightclubs, carrying guns, and committing violent crimes,” he said in a prepared statement. “This violence will not be allowed to continue, and we are telling nightclub industry officials that we are here to help you, but we are going to make some changes.”

The legislation, co-sponsored by Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, will be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors at its next meeting, according to the mayor’s office.

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