Remember back in 2009 when SFPD's then-Captain Dudley said in a radio interview (at 49:53) that San Francisco's economy would be better off with no nightlife, because the cost of policing nightclubs is higher than revenue that the clubs bring to the city?
Well, thanks to Supervisor Weiner's economic impact study, we now know that nightlife is worth $4.2 billion. The SFPD budget is $421 million. So there's that.
Nightlife: Fun plus jobs
The undisputed cultural importance of nightlife isn't the whole story. Nightlife is a significant economic contributor to San Francisco. It creates jobs, particularly for working-class and young people. It generates tax revenue that helps fund Muni, health clinics, and parks. It allows creative entrepreneurs to start businesses. It generates tourism. It draws foot traffic into neighborhoods to the benefit of other neighborhood businesses. [...]
Nightlife in San Francisco generates $4.2 billion a year in spending, with $1 billion of that amount coming from bars, clubs, performance venues, and art spaces. Some 48,000 people are employed in nightlife businesses, and these businesses contribute $55 million a year in local taxes. On March 5, we'll announce the full results of the study at a hearing of the Land Use and Economic Development Committee.
This data will help us make smart public policy around nightlife. In the past, those decisions frequently have been driven by anecdote and over-reaction to isolated events. Trouble near a small number of nightclubs? The city responds by making it difficult for all nightclubs to operate, even those with excellent safety records and despite the dramatic improvement in the Entertainment Commission's oversight. Or, the city goes even further and proposes requiring all clubs, even small ones, to scan ID cards of everyone who enters. [...]
Entertainment is under pressure in San Francisco. There are neighborhoods with significant friction between housing and nightlife. Some of that friction results from a small number of problem venues. Other times, a good venue is jeopardized for simply conducting its business within the limits of San Francisco law -- for example, a single neighbor got Slim's shut down for a few weeks for noise, despite the club's compliance with our noise ordinance.
We also continue to have bizarre Planning Code restrictions that undermine entertainment, such as the Mission Alcohol Special Use District, which makes it difficult or impossible to start creative new businesses in the Mission if alcohol is involved. This provision almost prevented a new bowling alley from locating at 17th and South Van Ness. Similarly, some are concerned that the Western SoMa Plan, as currently written, will undermine nightlife on 11th Street by surrounding clubs with new housing and by reducing the number of venues.
There's going to be a rally and hearing at City Hall on Mon Mar 5 at Noon to officially release the study, if you're interested in being a part of that photo op.