City Hall Delays Strip Club’s 4 a.m. Request

North Beach’s Penthouse Club wants to extend hours until 4 a.m., but the Planning Commission is teasing out their decision for another six weeks.

Mike Koozmin, SF Examiner

The bill allowing bars to serve alcohol until 4 a.m. is still not certain to get Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature, but one San Francisco strip club wants to be in the pole position if it does. At a meeting on Thursday, the Penthouse Club and Restaurant asked the San Francisco Planning Commission to allow it to extend its hours until 4 a.m., but the commission was not comfortable with the idea and voted unanimously for a six-week delay.

“I think we’re kind of jumping off a cliff and hoping that we’re going to fly,” commissioner Dennis Richards said after an hour of discussion, noting the uncertainty of the 4 a.m. last call measure and a lack of input from police. “We move the mess from two o’clock to four o’clock. I do worry about that.”

Currently, seven businesses are licensed to stay open after 2 a.m. on or near Broadway in North Beach, but most are standard late-night food joints. And while the nearby Hustler Club stays open until 4 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, it received that authorization when different commercial district laws were in effect. The Penthouse Club requested a 4 a.m. authorization that would go seven nights a week, though neither club is authorized to serve alcohol after 2 a.m.

The Planning Department’s preliminary recommendation was that the commission reject the request, saying it “likely would negatively impact the overall livability of the area” for residents, and that “further intensifying after-hours activities from 2-4 a.m. might make coexisting that much more difficult.”

But the commission heard arguments from a number of Penthouse Club patrons and staff.

“The type of guests that we have are doctors, lawyers, politicians — people that aren’t going to be out causing a ruckus,” club manager Michael Rickson told the panel. “I really don’t see the extension affecting the neighborhood negatively.”

Neighbors disagreed, citing a list of nuisances. The 455 Vallejo Street Homeowners Association’s community association manager Lisa Crikos called the club “an outlet for drunken party-goers from all reaches of other neighborhoods and cities to revel until the sun comes up.” (That multi-unit building shares a property line with the club.)

“Nothing good happens on Broadway between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.,” Crikos said. The proposal was also opposed by neighborhood groups the Telegraph Hill Dwellers Association, Barbary Coast Neighborhood Association, and Golden Gateway Tenants Association.

The commission was sympathetic to those concerns, and was even more worried about a lack of police input on the proposal, the unknown variable of State Sen. Scott Wiener’s 4 a.m. last call proposal, and a number of proposed new retail marijuana dispensaries in the North Beach pipeline.

“If a cannabis shop were next door, it would probably be a different thing,” said commissioner Dennis Fong, describing possible new changes to the neighborhood’s character.

In a unanimous 7-0 vote, the commission decided to delay their decision until an Oct. 25 meeting where they will know more about whether bars are serving booze until 4 a.m., and whether the new crop of pot shops will be blooming in North Beach.

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