Bay Area/ San Francisco
Published on December 17, 2014
London Breed Proposes New Legislation To Protect Local Music VenuesPhoto: Saket Vora
During yesterday's Board of Supervisors meeting,  District 5 Supervisor London Breed proposed legislation that would protect live music venues amidst pressures from the housing developments that are springing up around them. 
The move represents a push to preserve live music spaces and the communities that they build. “More than dollars and cents, these venues are an integral part of our culture, of what makes us San Francisco,” she stated

In a press release, Breed cited the many venues have already closed, including Café du Nord, the Lexington Club, Club Cocomo, Red Devil Lounge, the Sound Factory in SoMa. "Now, Bottom of the Hill in Potrero Hill and the Independent on Divisadero in District 5 are facing the prospect of nearby residential development that could jeopardize their ability to host live music and/or force them to spend tens of thousands on sound insulation," Breed noted. 

The legislation would require that residential building owners work with local music venues from the get-go, making sure that proper sound tests and notification for future residents take place, and that the Entertainment Commission take an active role in the process from early on. 

Specifically, Breed's legislation would affect the city's 351 “Places of Entertainment” thusly:

  • Prevents PoE venues from being deemed a legal “nuisance” if they are operating within their permit;
  • Requires more accurate sound tests before a developer builds near a PoE;
  • To reduce conflicts later, requires developers to begin working with nearby PoE and the Entertainment Commission long before they even start construction;
  • Ensures that all potential residents of units near a PoE are informed about the PoE in advance;
  • And improves communication between all relevant City departments, while empowering the Entertainment Commission to take an active, early role in these projects.
The proposal is particularly good news for The Independent, which voiced concerns about noise complaints at a neighborhood meeting regarding the upcoming condo development next door. To refresh your memory, the space formerly occupied by Alouis Auto Radiator is slated to become a 5-story, 16-unit condo building. 

The design of the units has bedroom windows just 55 feet from the Independent's back patio, and until now there was no clause in place that protected the 60-year-old music venue from noise complaints. According to Schmalz, the plan is to soundproof the new building based on city standards, though he was vague about whether residents will be required to sign anything acknowledging that they're moving in next to a rock club. 

Under this new legislation, future residents of the condos on Grove and Divisadero must be notified of the existence of a live music venue nearby. New residents will also not be able to sue The Independent with noise complaints, an issue which caused trouble for Brick and Mortar in 2013. 

With San Francisco's live music industry bringing over $800 million to the city each year, this legislation would not only aim to protect beloved music clubs, but would also seek to retain the economic advantages of preserving the city's entertainment venues. 

We'll keep you posted on the legislation's progress, as well as the future relations between the Independent and its upcoming neighbors.