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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Update on ABC vs. All Ages Clubs: Support Groups, Scathing Letter

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 9:34 AM

click to enlarge Bottom of the Hill
  • Bottom of the Hill
Despite numerous newspaper articles (including our own back in May about the legal battle toll) about the unfair crackdown the ABC has undertaken against all-ages venues in San Francisco, it seems little has changed on the enforcement side. The clubs are still complaining of being cited for unfair and unwarranted "infractions" like "changing" their opening hours or not serving enough food. That's the bad news. The good news is groups are forming to help create more awareness about the ABC's campaign against the venues, which in turn will hopefully add pressure to drop the cases against Bottom of the Hill, Cafe du Nord, Slim's, DNA, and Great American Music Hall. There's a Facebook group, Save San Francisco's All-Ages Music Venues that offers an outlet for frustrated supporters of these clubs. There's also a dedicated blogger on the topic, DNA's Jamie Zawinski--who of course has a vested interest in seeing the ABC back off. Nonetheless, his most recent post  includes a letter from John Hinman, a laywer representing many of these all-ages clubs. It's a long read, but it shows in detail how ridiculous the ABC's nitpicking has gotten (going after du Nord for serving food at 8 p.m. instead of at 5 p.m.--although the club maintains it serves food at 5p.m. to its staff and the bands performing there); Bottom of  the Hill not having a tables and chairs-stacked "dining area"; and other instances of extreme micromanagement. This is a serious issue, not only because of the penalties ABC could impose on these clubs, but also because the cost in lawyers fees of fighting these ridiculous measures is seriously eating into the clubs' budgets during a recession. 

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Ian S. Port


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