Nightclubs rejoice, now we can all be noisy!

by JIM MEKO

Supervisor London Breed’s legislation that would remove your right to sue noisy nightclubs if you’ve moved into the neighborhood since 2005, easily passed the Board of Supervisors this week. Supervisor Jane Kim was a co-sponsor. 

The measure will also require developers of new residential projects to appear before the Entertainment Commission, if the Commission requests a hearing, to discuss possible mitigations.

This is essentially feel-good law. Who would vote against “fun,” especially if it’s in somebody else’s neighborhood? But it’s unlikely to have much impact on the gentrification of the city. New developments are being built up to state standards for sound attenuation and their residents are the least likely ones to file public nuisance complaints.

Unfortunately some club owners will interpret this as permission to violate existing noise and nuisance protections. So far Kim and Breed have not tried to revoke them.

Generally the conflict is between poorly insulated old bars and the 100 year old wood frame buildings that proliferate in SoMa (although the lower income tenants are less likely to complain because they have their own issues with authority figures).

I only know of two small claims court cases against clubs in the last ten years, one by the owner of the Jackson Brewery condos, and the other by a resident of an SRO hotel room above Club 6. Poor Jeanne Marie who lives behind Slims is the poster child for condo-owning intolerance. She’s getting blamed for the closure of dozens of clubs, a physical impossibility, but most of this is urban legend. Most clubs go out of business because of poor management or changing demographics but the entertainment lobby is a well-oiled propaganda machine.

The entertainment industry has long sought protection from new residents who move in next door to existing places of entertainment, only to learn later that they make noise, and a discussion at the Entertainment Commission about this can do no harm. It’s the disrespect for existing neighbors that concerns me the most.

I’m not making excuses for anybody. Longtime residents, new neighbors and the entertainment venues are all occasionally at fault. They’ve just got to learn to be better neighbors.

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