There’s a lot of he said, she said, this guy said and SFist said involved in the Club 6 dispute with tenants of the Lawrence Hotel and surrounding SROs on 6th Street. There’s also some conflicts of interests involved: Paul Hogarth is the managing editor of BeyondChron.org and an activist for the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, the organization heading the campaign against Club 6; Hogarth’s called out the Guardian about advertising conflicts but at the same time written several stories regarding what, on the surface, seems to be a hyperlocal controversy.
But with so much drama in the SFC over a mid-sized nightclub, many are confused about what the real dispute is. Yesterday’s packed public hearing before the entertainment commission raised various concerns beyond the sound level. Is it an issue of showing respect to residents who are often viewed as second-class citizens due to their low social standing, addictions and mental and physical disabilities? Or, as Club 6 owner Angel Cruz believes, a matter of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic seeking to drive businesses off of 6th Street so that they can reap the benefits of government funding and take over SROs in the SOMA?
Club 6 is admittedly in violation of the city’s Good Neighbor Policy, having exceeded its sound limits. This led to the issuing of a 120 day probationary period by the commission; if the club violates the noise ordinance, a 30-day license suspension will be issued. The result was sorta win-win for both parties: a victory for marginalized citizens who finally had their voices heard and a ruling that will allow Club 6 to operate while making repairs. But neither party is really happy about the outcome.
“Let’s try to get less people killed on 6th street. Let’s make it safe,” Cruz says. “Paul Hogarth should be lobbying to get more police and better services. Don’t tell me three- to-nine decibels over our limit is endangering the health of people because it’s not. We’re sorry we make you mad, but we’re fixing it.”
As a journalist and someone who has been a patron of Club 6, I don’t know where to stand. On one end, it seems as if Cruz has made honest efforts to improve the sound, investing more than $200,000 in soundproofing the 100 year old building. He’s also received support from the community from folks who say the club has had a positive impact on 6th Street, making it safer at night and allowed for more businesses to thrive.
At the hearing, Cruz had an overwhelming amount of support from club goers, promoters, deejays and employees who have their livelihoods at stake. Of the 894 residents in the area, only a handful of tenants came to speak. It could be that not as many neighbors are as concerned as the Tenderloin Housing Clinic would make it seem, or it could be that this jaded community of residents lacks the willpower or means to fight back.
You can’t point fingers and say who’s right and who’s wrong. Cruz has a right to have a night club in a mixed-use neighborhood. And the residents have a right to sleep at night.
“We don’t want the club to be driven out of business, we want Club 6 to be a good neighbor,” Hogarth says.
If there really is some sort of vendetta against businesses in the SOMA or nightclubs in the city, turn the sound down a little Cruz and see if any more complaints arise. And while they’re working on the sound, how bout the Tenderloin Housing Clinic address the crime and drugs that pervade 6th Street? -- Zoneil Maharaj