New Sheriff in Town for City Nightclubs

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    WMAQ
    File Image: Partyers ripping it up at a night club.

     A San Francisco Board of Supervisors committee today approved  legislation that would give the city's Entertainment Commission more power to shut down problem nightclubs that are the site of pervasive violence or nuisance behavior.

          Under an ordinance proposed by Supervisor David Chiu, the commission would be allowed to revoke the entertainment permit of a club  deemed a public safety threat or a public nuisance. The clubs would be unable to reapply for the permit for one year.
         
    The Public Safety Committee agreed unanimously this morning to  forward the legislation to the full board.
         
    "It is my hope and desire that these tools...will help to ameliorate the problem," Chiu said.
       
    Chiu acknowledged that there has been "a lot of public  frustration" with the commission, including neighborhood residents'  complaints about their reporting of problems at local clubs "going into a  black hole."
         
    Last year, legislation was passed expanding the commission's power  to temporarily suspend club permits.
         
    Renewed focus came this year after a Feb. 7 gang shooting outside  the Suede nightclub near Fisherman's Wharf -- in Chiu's district -- in which one person was killed and four others were injured.
         
    The club had "a multi-year history of violence that had not been  addressed," Chiu said today.
         
    At the time, the Entertainment Commission noted it had limited  authority to revoke Suede's operating permit. The club has now agreed to a temporarily closure as the city attorney's office pursues a permanent closure  in court.
         
    Other recent violence included a fight outside El Rincon in the  Mission District on June 19 in which a responding police officer was shot in  the foot and a July 11 fatal shooting outside Jelly's in Mission Bay. Both clubs were temporarily closed for seven days.
         
    The Entertainment Commission currently can only revoke a club's  permit based on ownership making false statements on a permit application; failing to pay permit fees; or failing to surrender the permit during a change of ownership. For public safety issues, it can only suspend a permit  for up to 90 days.
         
    Jocelyn Kane, acting director of the Entertainment Commission,  told the committee today that the commission supports Chiu's legislation  expanding its revocation powers. She added that the commission would try to educate and take corrective action against problem clubs, "before we get to  this point."
         
    The commission is also working on re-evaluating the security plans  of certain clubs, Kane said.
         
    Kane acknowledged that the commission has no authority over event  promoters.

    "We don't have any ability to do anything with them," she said.
         
    Both Kane and police Cmdr. Kitt Crenshaw agreed that there has  been increased cooperation between the commission and police on the issue of  curbing violence at certain venues.
         
    Crenshaw said, however, that violence continues "almost weekly, at  some of these clubs."
         
    Crenshaw outlined several proposals by the Police Department,  including requiring that all clubs that handle more than 100 patrons have  security plans and video cameras at the entrance and outside. He also  proposed a business tax for certain club districts to help police recover  enforcement costs.
         
    "I think that (those proposals) would bring about a major change  to the industry," Crenshaw said.