Permits and Lawyers

by Jamie Zawinski

This is a collection of information on all of the permits that one needs to legally operate a nightclub in San Francisco, as well as information on how to operate an audio webcast legally. This information is somewhat dated, as I collected this while we were in the process of re-opening in 1999 through 2001, but it will give you an idea of the nightmare of the whole process.

Webcasting
My own overview of the hoops you are expected to jump through in order to operate an internet radio station legally. The situation is pretty dire.

Nightclub Permits
My own overview of the set of permits one must have in order to operate a nightclub in San Francisco, and what they really mean. See also The San Francisco Late Night Coalition.

SF Police Code: Dance Hall Keeper
Sections 1022 through 1027 of the San Francisco Police Code (as of 2004 or so) which define the Dance Hall Keeper permit: what it means and how it works.

SF Police Code: Place of Entertainment
Section 1060 of the San Francisco Police Code (as of 2004 or so) which defines the Place of Entertainment permit.

SF Police Code: Extended Hours Premises
Section 1070 of the San Francisco Police Code (as of 2004 or so) which defines the Extended Hours Premises permit (formerly known as the ``Cabaret'' permit.)

SF Planning Code: SLR
Sections 816, 102, 181, and 182 of the San Francisco Planning Code (as of 2004 or so) describe the permitted uses in SOMA, which is (or was, until recently: I think it might have changed again) zoned as ``Service/Light Industrial.'' The interesting thing about this zoning is that nightclubs are not allowed. Though there have been nightclubs in SOMA for decades, in 1990 it was changed to an SLR district, which means that all existing clubs were considered ``existing non-conforming'' and grandfathered in. You can't open a new nightclub in an SLR district, nor can you expand an existing one.

All SF Codes
This site has all of the San Francisco Codes (Planning, Police, Fire, Health, etc.) online and searchable.

All CA Codes
This site has all of the California Codes (Labor, Civil, Penal, etc.) online and searchable.