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.
First: The Mortified show (and documentary filming) this Thursday is almost sold out already, so if you want to go, buy tickets now!
Second: I am a little surprised that this Friday's Blow Up with Felix Da Housecat is not sold out yet, because he's great. I will now prove this to you through the medium of "music video":
Jay, who has been managing DNA Pizza since we opened almost exactly a year ago, has decided to step down to a less life-consuming role. He's not leaving us, but we're now looking for someone else to fill the General Manager role at the pizza place. Got any leads? Here's our Craigslist ad. It's fairly direct:
- Must have experience in 24 hour restaurant management or coffee shop management.
- Must be computer literate and good at communicating online.
- Must be creative and self directed.
- Must provide references.
- Email plain text resume. Word documents will be ignored.
We're specifically hoping for someone with more experience in the "cafe" or "morning" side of things than the "pizza" side, since we've pretty much got the whole pizza thing down. It's the other stuff we're still struggling with.
We're also still looking for more non-management employees at DNA Pizza, both in-house and delivery folks. That ad is here.
Hey look, more photo galleries:
Have I mentioned lately how much I love Mortified? So hilarious.Tonight was an extra-long show as they were filming a documentaryabout the show, which should be out by the end of the year. If youmissed this show, I'm sorry, because it was great. But it sold out!So, many of you are right-thinking individuals, and we thank you foryour fine taste.
Felix da Housecat tomorrow!
Remember back on Feb 13 when I said that our stack of bullshit paperwork had finally moved its way from gathering dust at the Planning department to gathering dust at the Building department? And so the three month countdown before Building was expected to actually do anything had begun? Well, apparently that was bullshit. Days after I was told, "It's at Building now", Planning called back and said, "Oh, just one more tiny thing and you're done..." Then we did that, and a week later, "Oh, just one more tiny thing and you're done", and repeat a few more times, and five weeks have vaporized. So maybe -- maybe -- it will actually move to Building by March 23. I guess I won't know for sure until some time has gone by without Planning calling back and saying, again, "Oh, we haven't sent it yet, because there's just this one more thing..."
And when I freak out about this, everyone acts like I'm crazy.
Some amount of construction has started upstairs. I was out of town for a bit more than a week and expected to come back to see framed-out bathrooms upstairs by now. But no, instead I see some stacks of cut plywood and not a lot else.
At this point, there's basically no chance we'll get our second building permit, the one that lets us cut doors in the wall and build the upstairs bar, before July. Even assuming the bathrooms are finished by then, which is far from a foregone conclusion. So if the rest of the construction takes four months -- which, given the small amount of work it is, sounds more than reasonable, right? But, ha ha, I've done this before, I know "reasonable" has nothing to do with it -- well, that would put us in November. So then it only takes another one-plus of these inexplicable, useless, passive-voice, responsibility-dodged delays like this latest random five weeks of hurry-up-and-wait to cause the new space to not be open for New Years Eve.
That's, you know, kind of a big fucking deal.
Yeah, it's only March and I can already see NYE slipping away because I live in a city so hostile to local businesses that that's actually a thing.
And we've been at this since FEBRUARY 2011.
What the fucking fuck.
Anyway. Here's some photos:
This is not a timely story, or related to current events, but not a lot of people seem to know it these days, and you might find it interesting.
There are two (or three, depending on how you count) decades-old nightclubs lying fallow on our block, and that's kind of sad.
I may have some of the dates and details slightly wrong here, so please let me know if you have corrections.
Part 1: The Oasis:
What was once known as The Oasis is on the Northwest corner of 11th and Folsom. This was a fairly large club with two rooms inside and a roof deck. One bizarre feature of the place is that it actually contained an indoor swimming pool under the dance floor. I never saw it actually open, though: every time I had been there, the pool cover was closed and functioning as a dance floor. It was kind of flexible, though, and I always wondered whether we were going to fall through some day. And whether there was still water in the pool to catch us if so. (I saw Nine Inch Nails play there in 1994, and the way that floor flexed and tilted was terrifying! DNA's own David King was pressed into service that night as a human carabiner: a speaker stack was sitting on the corner of the pool cover and was tilting in a rather deadly manner, so Dave's job was to sit on top of it and hold onto a sprinkler pipe all night!)
Oasis parties were largely outside, on the roof deck. It's hard to imagine that happening in in today's San Francisco, right? Well, when the condos moved in across the street, in the brick building on the Southeast corner, that was pretty much the beginning of the "lofts versus nightclubs" wars. The newly-arrived suburbanites complained about the noise, and the Oasis owners responded with, basically, "We were here first, go fuck yourselves."
That approach didn't work out so well, and The Oasis was forced out of business by SFPD in 1998.
In 1999, a woman named Anne bought The Oasis and divided it into two clubs, "VSF" and "Caliente". She was, of course, forced to agree to never again allow customers onto the roof deck, and the potted palm trees up there have been rotting ever since. She also lost the "late night" permit: The Oasis had been allowed to operate 24/7 like DNA Lounge, but VSF and Caliente had a 2 AM curfew forced on them.
VSF never did a lot of business, and as far as I can remember, hasn't been open since around 2006.
Caliente is a much sadder story: they were open for about nine years, catering mostly to an older Latino crowd, when SF's most notorious cop, Larry Bertrand, took it on himself to start paying them regular visits where he would ensure that the customers were all over 21 by lining them all up against the wall outside and demanding their papers. In other words, he did his best to make an ABC enforcement look as much like an INS raid as possible to the people he was harassing.
After the second time this happened, the customers just stopped coming back, and Maurice Salinas, the owner of the Caliente business, just said "Fuck it, this isn't worth it", and walked away from his business. Bertrand had won, and that space has been empty ever since.
I guess Anne still owns the building, and has decided that having two nightclubs sit vacant for years is the best use of that investment? Beats me.
Part 2: Paradise Lounge:
Paradise Lounge was the club on the Southwest corner of 11th and Folsom. It was huge space with multiple rooms, and a second floor with a separate entrance to the street, letting them run multiple unrelated events on the same night. It had a small but nice stage with good sight lines, a balcony, and in the 90s they did live music there almost every night. I saw Sharkbait there more times than I can count. At many of those shows, you could line up to get into a cage with a stack of televisions and beat them to death with a baseball bat. It was a simpler time.
In 2001, Paradise got some new owners (some dot-com guys with more money than sense who thought, "Hey, a nightclub sounds fun!" What kind of dummy does that, I ask you?) As they were Burning Man raver types, they had no interest in live music, so they ripped out the stage and ran the place as a dance club for a few years. I think the club changed hands a few times after that, and around 2006, someone put the stage back in (in roughly the same spot, but smaller). They rarely did live music there, however.
Then in 2008, a new potential owner came on the scene. The story goes that this was some young kid with no experience at running a club, but who had a rich dad. Dad agreed to fund the club, but only if the kid got himself some partners with actual experience running this kind of business. He hooked up with a few experienced folks including former Entertainment Commissioner Terrance Alan, and things seemed on track for the place to re-open. But then two things happened:
First, the group of them decided that Paradise Lounge had a "terrible reputation" (which is crazy) and what they should do was rename it and re-build the place from scratch. So they immediately started in on the demolition phase of their remodeling project. They knocked out all of the interior walls, pulled out the existing bars and plumbing, and basically stripped the place down to the studs.
And then... wait for it... the kid with the money disappeared off the face of the Earth, leaving his partners holding the bag.
So they took a completely functional nightclub, that needed at best a coat of paint and some re-upholstery, and they destroyed it. It's been empty ever since, and at this point, if someone gave you that business for free, I'll bet you'd be half a million dollars away from selling your first beer.
It's the tragedy of the decade.
I'm really sorry to see them go, because Blow Up was by far my favorite of our regular parties. I understand that they're taking a break from club promotion for a while. There are a few reasons for this, among them that Jeffrey's got his hands full with his band Poolside, who have been doing well and doing a lot of touring lately.
In addition to losing a fun party, this means that now we've got a bunch of Fridays to fill, and on somewhat short notice. We've got a few leads, but if you have suggestions of parties or promoters that you think would be a good fit at DNA Lounge, please point them our way, because we're kind of in a mad scramble at this point to avoid being dark on any of our immanent Fridays! It would help us a lot if you could spread the word.
What you are seeing is the skeleton of one of the two new restrooms, located in the back room above DNA Pizza.