other means to solve problems short of going to a suspension hearing -- and one of the controlling reasons is that a suspension hearing is
expensive," Meko said.
Suspension hearings -- the real teeth of
the current Entertainment Commission's enforcement -- require the
services of the city attorney's office. And they bill for their time.
Want more immediate, tough
enforcement? It's going to cost more.
the bigger problem with Nevius' idea of a brand-new Entertainment
Commission, Meko said, is that the procedure for shutting down problem
clubs is detailed in the police code. And it's a slow procedure that
gives clubs ample opportunity to clean up their acts.
No matter who is in charge of regulating nightclubs -- the police, the
Entertainment Commission, Nevius's new "apolitical" Entertainment
Commission substitute -- that process will be the same, Meko said.
a neighborhood meeting, like the one in North Beach after the Suede
shooting, and it's obvious that outraged neighbors don't want to hear about
this legal requirement to give clubs due process in addressing their
problems. At the February North Beach meeting, one woman asked if Mayor Gavin
Newsom could just shut down Club Suede regardless of the law. Wasn't it an
emergency? The representative from the city attorney's office had to
break it to her gently that she wasn't in favor of asking the mayor to break
"When the police used to control the permitting, they
had to operate under the same kind of rules we did, and the neighbors
were just as frustrated with the police as they are with us now," Meko
said. He noted that, 10 years ago, one group of neighbors grew so fed
up with the police's inability to deal with an out-of-control club on
11th Street that they ended up going to small claims court to address
When the police did try to take more immediate
action against nightclubs, the clubs would appeal their decision and
win, which was a costly process for the city.
wars in San Francisco are more than a decade old, and the last police-
nightclubs-neighbors battle as heated as this one resulted in a shift
of permitting powers from the police to the Entertainment Commission.
But that hasn't been much of a solution.
If Meko's right,
people interested in better nightlife regulation need to look at the
root of the issue - -the police code governing problem clubs, and the
budget for the costly revocation hearings -- rather than
pushing the Entertainment Commission aside to reinvent the wheel again.