11-Apr-2009 (Sat) Wherein ABC's abuses are on the front page of the Chronicle!

We're on the front page of the SF Chronicle today! It's a great article about how ABC is attacking all of the other all-ages clubs in San Francisco for other non-alcohol-related reasons, like food sales and hours of operation.

State goes after legendary all-ages music clubs

A teenager's first concert is a rite of passage of sorts, and in San Francisco, that rite often is undertaken at one of the city's inexpensive, small, all-ages music clubs - a type of business that owners warn might not survive much longer because of new enforcement efforts by state alcohol officials. [...]

Those venues could be forced to close, owners say, if the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, better known as ABC, continues to impose rules that club attorneys argue are legally questionable and often unrelated to booze or safety issues.

Some of the clubs say they only recently learned about the new rules, which are not written into state law and haven't been enforced in the past.

For example, ABC has decreed that at least half of the clubs' revenue must come from food sales. The agency also is taking issue with minor operating changes, such as one club's decision to open an hour later.

In almost every case, the San Francisco clubs who have been battling ABC have the support of neighbors and local leaders.

The article doesn't mention DNA Lounge specifically, but this is absolutely the same fight that we're in. Though they're going after us with a ridiculous "lewdness" charge, they're going after all of the other clubs for whatever technicality they can find. There is a clear pattern of abuse of power here.

Also, we just filed our official appeal of our permit revocation to the ABC appeals board:

The grounds for this appeal are that (a) the department has proceeded without, or in excess of, its jurisdiction; (b) the department has not proceeded in the manner required by law; (c) the decision is not supported by the findings; (d) the findings are not supported by substantial evidence in the light of the whole record; (e) there is relevant evidence, which, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, could not have been produced or which was improperly excluded at the hearing before the department, and (f) ABC Rules 143.2 and 143.3 are unconstitutional.

10 Responses:

  1. cryptomail says:

    We live in a nanny state. Somehow, this happened. I wonder when common sense and practicality will ever come into play again. Good luck with the fight.

    • bifrosty2k says:

      Unfortunately people keep voting for things that promote this sort of behavior. Its disgusting how power is abused like this and I'm really offended by what the ABC is doing. Unfortunately the ABC isn't the only government agency being allowed to run amuck, it just happens to be one that people pay attention to when crap like this comes up.

  2. lafinjack says:

    I don't remember this being mentioned in previous posts, but is there some sort of McCarthy wannabe new to the upper echelons of that place, or did this stuff just come out of the blue?

    • dasht says:

      It's a charming story, at least as some people tell it nowadays. See wikipedia for some of this.

      Basically, back in the late 1940s some of the powers that were took to trying to drive out of business certain establishments in San Francisco. The establishments were so targeted because it was commonly supposed that many of the patrons were having sex of one form or another with members of the same sex and the establishments were used as a venue at which to socialize and arrange such liaisons. With some excitement (!) the alcohol control commission established unimpeachable evidence that the clubs in question were used largely for that form of socializing and, finding that to be a threat to public morality, moved to shut them down.

      In its wisdom, the Supreme Court of California discovered constitutional protection for those patrons and instructed the alcohol control commission to knock it off.

      By 1955, reactionary politics had led to the creation of ABC, to replace the earlier commission, chartering it with a broader range of powers and excuses for shutting places down. Sometime in the 1960s, in a guest appearance on the Dean Martin show, Ronald Reagan quipped that while Martin was famously portrayed as a dear friend of the martini glass, nevertheless, he wasn't needed to head the ABC.

      In a sense, the ABC is functioning today precisely as designed. My impression is that there are those in the corridors of power and influence who will be perfectly happy even if (as is expected) ABC loses many of the cases at hand for they are realpolitik players who count as a victory the bleeding dry of proprietors such as our host here. There is also a propaganda value to it: what plays in the Chronicle as an affront by ABC against community standards and local businesses plays in less tolerant regions as a valiant struggle against, and proof of the existence of, a homosexual agenda which dominates Bay Area politics. Many people who are deeply concerned about homosexuality will no doubt study with great care and dedication the outcome of these cases, in between the hours they spend picking details out of photos of the Folsom St. Fair and such. They are deeply engaged against the homosexual agenda and they can't get enough of its spectacle. They feel a compulsion to study it for hours on end, often staying up late at night quietly clicking through the piles of evidence on the net. They have difficulty understanding how people can live that way. I mean, we all have those feelings, sure, but everyone knows you just don't do that. Oh my god, you can see that guys entire butt in this picture! And that one guy is sucking the nipple of another guy! Do you need more proof? There's probably some more on line, let me google.



      • bifrosty2k says:

        Sometime in the 1960s, in a guest appearance on the Dean Martin show, Ronald Reagan quipped that while Martin was famously portrayed as a dear friend of the martini glass, nevertheless, he wasn't needed to head the ABC.

        I love Wikipedia, it was the BATF and not the ABC :)
        The BATF (now BATFE) is another organization I'd like to see go away...

  3. endotoxin says:

    Excellent. Seems like an appropriate time to follow up with a letter to the editor, IMHO.

  4. dr_memory says:

    So the state is basically trying to shut down every all-ages nightclub in San Francisco? Awesome! I can't wait to see the improvement in our quality of life when every 14-18-year-old in the city has less to do on a Friday night!

  5. sheilagh says:

    Maybe there's some class action y'all could take? Good luck!

  6. chromebishop says:

    out of curiosity, what are the two rules you are claiming are unconstitutional?