by JIM MEKO
Hard on the heels of her vote to restrict your ability to sue noisy nightclubs, Supervisor Jane Kim introduced legislation last week that would open up primarily residential portions of the Western SoMa Plan Area (from approximately 7th Street to 12th Street, from just shy of Mission Street all the way down to Harrison Street) to Limited Live Performance permits. LLP was intended to be reserved for neighborhood commercial districts. Only Kim has allowed it in residential neighborhoods. Her legislation stands in stark contrast to the balance of residential and entertainment uses promoted by the Western SoMa plan.
Two years ago, in order to downzone the 11th Street corridor at the urging of the entertainment lobby, Kim took the position that “entertainment and housing are not compatible.” Residents who had been lured to buy expensive condos in the neighborhood by the 1990 rezoning found themselves owning non-permitted residential property. Last year she had to backtrack on that position when she found that it interfered with efforts to reopen a nightclub that sits less than 100 feet from an apartment building.
Limited Live Performance permits are described as being lower intensity than standard nightclubs because, as an accessory use, they can only occupy 1/3 of the total floor area of the venue. Accessory use is a poor vehicle for containing noise. It’s generally used to regulate beauty parlors and home offices. 1/3 of an entertainment venue leaves plenty of room for a deejay and big speakers.
Decibel levels for LLP are equivalent to those that apply to nightclubs although the venues are supposed to cease operation by 11:00 at night. Violations of that provision are frequently reported by Entertainment Commission inspectors, but unless you have their personal cell phone number, all you get is voice mail when you call their city hall offices while the nuisance persists.
“Based on the Entertainment Commission’s experience with Limited Live Performance permits over the past four years, the Commission has advised that it does not believe this would have an adverse impact on the neighborhood,” the legislation argues, an opinion never tested with the neighbors.
Due to the generosity of the Late Night Coalition and the entertainment lobby, entertainment-friendly measures tend to sail through the Board of Supervisors. Whoever would vote against “fun,” especially if its in someone else’s district? Kim will not have to face District 6 voters again. She’s serving out her last term.