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Noise Ordinance: London Breed Legislation to Preserve Live Music & Nightlife

April 10, 2015

By sfweekly – excerpt

City Hall on March 19, while a dozen or more folks wearing “I support #sfnightlife” stickers stood shoulder to shoulder along the far wall. Others trickled in and out, occasionally bumping into the electronic button on the wall, opening the automatic door, and dumping disruptive hallway noise into the Planning Commission meeting.

Music venue owners and managers, bar and restaurant owners, neighborhood group organizers, and artists and musicians had gathered for one reason: tell Planning Commission members they support proposed legislation that aims to protect San Francisco’s nightlife from being pushed out by swift, large-scale development happening largely in mixed-use neighborhoods where entertainment venues have operated for decades but residential spaces are relatively new…

As the second tech bubble has brought vast amounts of people and money to San Francisco, demand for a finite amount of available land has skyrocketed. Development has swept through the city swiftly, particularly in mixed-use neighborhoods that combine residential and commercial spaces in close proximity. Areas where nightlife and places of entertainment have existed for decades are now also home to new condominiums, filled with more and more residents who — as head-scratching as it may seem — are complaining about noise after they move in…

When area news stories popped up about condominiums replacing an old radiator shop near the Independent, Supervisor London Breed and her staff started looking at the issue. They met with members of the Entertainment Commission, Planning Commission, and police through fall 2014, and Breed introduced legislation in December. Several unanimous approval votes then occurred with the Small Business Commission, Entertainment Commission, a building and inspection hearing, and then the March 19 Planning Commission meeting. Breed’s legislation moves on to the Land Use Commission this month before coming before the Board of Supervisors and ultimately the mayor as early as mid-May, according to Breed’s staff…

“The soul of this city is just changing so fast, whether it’s a Google bus or whatever else,” said Jocelyn Kane, executive director of the Entertainment Commission. “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.”

Breed’s legislation aims to prevent noise disputes by improving relationships between venues and neighbors, and working more closely with developers who are building new residential properties close to music venues. The legislation would help prevent venues from being shut down if they are operating within city entertainment permits, requires developers to work with venues before they begin construction, and ensures that all potential tenants of a new development know about local entertainment venues before they move in. It also asks developers to include sound attenuation specifics in their development plans for new housing… (more)

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