Wednesday, October 14, 2009

transparency : support live music

as you might imagine, i am on a fair share of email lists from concert venues in san francisco. this subject has been going on for a while. in my mind (and probably yours) most of the venues i go to don't fall into the realm of what is triggering all of this or who is the target of all this, which are the mid to large primarily DJ/dance venues. you know the ones... unh-tsk-unh-tsk-unh-tsk fog machines, and the bridge and tunnel crowd. you've read about the violence. i don't blame neighbors who are worried about violence or fires or even the noise (although... the clubs -and the noise- more often than not were there when you moved in). but yeah those dance clubs aren't my scene so why should i care? because all venues are coming under fire. live music, dj music, you name it. the places you and i like to go to will be caught in the crossfire.

the SAN FRANCISCO ENTERTAINMENT COMMISSION was set up to monitor and regulate these clubs. prior to them, it was a behind the scenes process controlled by the sfpd. the entertainment commission is a good idea. transparency in government.

san francisco is a world class live music city. we need to keep it that way. it's not easy to make it in music or even as a music venue. let the clubs that are doing good jobs continue to do so.

the following is what is being posted on many venues websites. i made one minor edit... the rest i pretty much agree with. if you do too, send an email (addresses and suggested text below).

Save SF Entertainment!



Please help support night-time entertainment in SF by coming to a hearing on Monday, Oct 19 at 10am in room 263 at City Hall!

A vocal group of neighbors have banded with the anti-alcohol and anti-entertainment elements in the police department and the state alcohol control department to shut down night-time entertainment in San Francisco. This is a real threat. These people have come to hearings at City Hall and blamed night-time entertainment for violent crime, murder, prostitution, public urination and defecation and any host of problems that the city has been facing for decades. Never before have they been this strong and powerful, if you love going out at night, you need to show up and tell City Hall that we are not to be blamed for society's problems. We need you to show up at Monday's hearing and/or send an email of support now. Again, the hearing is next Monday, Oct 19 at 10am in room 263 at City Hall.

The Entertainment Commission was created in 2002 to take responsibility for the granting and oversight of Entertainment and Late Night permits. Before the EC, these permits were all controlled by the police. Separating the authority was a way to give citizen stake-holders a place in the decisions around entertainment. Enforcement remained with the police, and the granting and oversight were given to the EC.

Two years ago the Mayor's office and the EC convened a "Night-time Safety Summit" to hear recommendations from the entertainment community and the Police Department on how to strengthen the role of the EC in rewarding well managed venues, and disciplining problem venues that were making the industry look bad. The legislation that is being heard on Monday comes from that summit.

Currently, the Entertainment Commission does not have much enforcement power: they just have the "big stick" of permit revocation, which is a very heavy-weight, expensive and time-consuming process. This hearing is about giving the EC the ability to write tickets for minor infractions, for example, to tell a venue to manage their line better without having to first let things get bad enough that revocation makes sense.

The strategy of the anti-night-life and anti-alcohol forces is to keep the Entertainment Commission toothless, because that makes them look ineffective. They think that if the EC continues getting bad press, SFPD will be able to take back unilateral control of permitting, which would be bad for night-life and bad for San Francisco.

So please show up and support this legislation that will allow the EC to do its job, out in the open, with accountability and citizen oversight! Don't let the prohibitionists wreck your city.

Whether you can make it to the hearing in person or not, we need you to send an email to the committee members of the Board of Supervisors who will be presiding on Monday. For example, something like this:

Subject: Support 1060/1070 without moratorium

Honorable Mayor and Board of Supervisor Committee members;

I support the strengthening of the Entertainment Commission. I do not support the moratoriums that will restrict the granting of special event permits because there is no proof that those special events are any problem.

I am a ___resident / employee / patron___ and I think that the entertainment venues in the city are safe, well run and that the Entertainment Commission does a good job managing all of them. The couple of problem venues will be required to fix their problems faster if the commission gets this additional power.

I pay taxes, live, work and play in San Francisco and believe that well managed entertainment of all types is vital for a city like ours. It is one of the reasons I choose to live here and not in the suburbs.


___your name___
I live in ___your neighborhood___

If you are able to make it to the hearing on Monday (again, that's Oct 19, 10am, room 263 in City Hall) it would be helpful if you were willing to speak for a minute or two in support of the Entertainment community and the Commission that was set up to regulate it. Some suggested points to make:

- Sunshine and fairness: The EC allows neighbors, the music community, and stake-holders an official, on-the-record forum for public input. The EC has taken venue licensing out of back rooms and into the public eye where it belongs.

- Better neighbors / safer clubs: The EC holds venues accountable with fair, enforceable steps to become good neighbors. The EC has mandated more soundproofing, plus fire, electrical and building safety upgrades than at any other time in the city's history.

- More local jobs: Venues are labor-intensive, and almost completely locally staffed. SF needs jobs!

- Tough / fair enforcement of sound laws: EC staff test for sound complaints and ensure both compliance for neighbors, and fairness to venues. The EC's staff must be augmented, and given more enforcement power, a key issue on Monday.

- Cheaper tickets: More venues means more shows, competition for artists and competitive pricing for customers.

- Protect outdoor concerts, street-fairs: The EC has defended the city's unique locally operated fairs and festivals. They employ thousands, entertain hundreds of thousands and bring millions into city coffers, plus massive hotel and restaurant income.

- Fair regulation: Every Week San Francisco hosts regional, national and international tourists who support our local economy. Hundreds of thousands of people come and go enjoying the sights, food and entertainment that this city is famous for with few problems. Keep that success and give the Entertainment Commission the authority to regulate the few problems that we do have.

- I love going out: Tell them about your favorite venue and how often you go out. Tell them that you enjoy your time with friends listening to music and dancing, that you feel safe and secure, and thank the Entertainment Commission for doing its job.

- I make my living from entertainment: If you work in the night-life industry, tell them about it! Give examples where you have seen the Entertainment Commission doing good work.

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