Music Clubs in S.F. Fight for Right to Party

Local ordinances typically try to protect residents from excess noise. In San Francisco, though, a city official is proposing policies that would protect the right of musical acts to keep rocking despite the encroachment of new neighbors.

2 minute read

April 23, 2015, 8:00 AM PDT

By Josh Stephens @jrstephens310


The Castro

Dan Schreiber / Shutterstock

As in many cities, many of San Francisco's small music clubs are located in marginal neighborhoods, often industrial or commercial areas, like Dogpatch or the Mission, where bands can turn up the volume without fear that they will offend neighbors. But with a housing crisis in full swing and the gentrification of formerly undesirable neighborhoods, music venues now have more neighbors within earshot, and many of them are cranky. 

Bands and venue owners are pushing back against noise complaints, contending that the music scene is a vital part of San Francisco's culture. Supervisor London Breed agrees. She has sponsored an ordinance that seeks to smooth relationships between venues and residents. The ordinance would require developers to work with music venues before construction begins, to notify prospective residents of the proximity of music clubs, and to consider including mitigation measures in their project. The ordinance would prevent the forced shut-down of any venue that follows city rules, no matter how much neighbors may complain. 

A petition in support of Breed's legislation has garnered 3,000 signatures. 

"The soul of this city is just changing so fast, whether it's a Google bus or whatever else," Jocelyn Kane, executive director of the Entertainment Commission, told SF Weekly. "It's different now from what we saw in the '90s, with the amount of money, and the sustained amount of change. This legislation is important because it forces project sponsors to come talk to us and get our signoff."

SF Weekly reports that 2012 study from the city's Office of Economic Analysis found that San Francisco's Nightlife Industries generated roughly $4.2 billion in 2010.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015 in SF Weekly

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