Going to a club -- or boarding an airplane?

The War on Fun continues with a proposal to electronically track every nightclub visitor

Jelly's was shut down after a shooting outside the nightclub in July


The War on Fun — a term coined by the Guardian in 2006 to describe the crackdowns on nightclubs, special events, and urban culture by police, NIMBY neighbors, and moderate politicians — continues to grind on in San Francisco.

The latest attack was launched by Mayor Gavin Newsom and the San Francisco Police Department, which has proposed a series of measures to monitor and regulate individuals who visit bars or entertainment venues, proposals that the embattled Entertainment Commission will consider at its Dec. 14 meeting.

Perhaps most controversial among the dozens of new conditions that the SFPD would require of nightclubs is an Orwellian proposal to require all clubs with an occupancy of 100 persons or more to electronically scan every patron's identification card and retain that information for 15 days. Civil libertarians and many club owners call this a blatantly unconstitutional invasion of privacy.

Driving the latest calls for a crackdown is a stated concern over isolated incidents of violence outside a few nightclubs in recent years, something Newsom and police blame on the clubs and that they say warrants greater scrutiny by police and city regulators.

But the proposals also come in the wake of overzealous policing of nightclubs and parties — including improper personal property destruction and seizures, wrongful arrests and violence by police, harassment of disfavored club operators, and even dumping booze down the drain — mostly led by SFPD Officer Larry Bertrand and his former partner, Michelle Ott, an agent with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Those actions were documented in back-to-back cover stories by the Guardian ("The New War on Fun," March 24) and SF Weekly ("Turning the Tables," March 17), and they are the subject of multiple ongoing lawsuits by nightclub owners, patrons, and employees, including a racketeering lawsuit alleging that officials are criminally conspiring against lawful activities.

Yet rather than atoning for that enforcement overreach, Newsom and SFPD officials seem to be doubling down on their bets that San Franciscans will tolerate a more heavily policed nightlife scene in the hopes of eliminating the possibility of random violence.

A series of nighttime shootings this year has grabbed headlines and prompted calls to action by the Mayor's Office and Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, whose District 3 includes North Beach. In February, there were shootings at Blue Macaw in the Mission and Club Suede at Fisherman's Wharf, followed by a shooting at the Pink Saturday fair in June, one outside Jelly's in SoMa in July, and the high-profile murder of a German tourist near Union Square in August.

Chiu responded with legislation to give the Entertainment Commission greater authority to close down problem nightclubs and, more recently, with legislation to require party promoters to register with the city so that officials can take actions against those who act irresponsibly.

In September, Newsom asked the SFPD for its recommendations and he received a laundry list of proposals now before the Entertainment Commission. That body held a closed session hearing Nov. 30 to discuss a confidential legal opinion by the City Attorney's Office on whether the identification scan would pass constitutional muster, an opinion that has so far been denied to the Guardian and the public, although officials say it may be discussed in open session during the Dec. 14 hearing.

"Everything is being considered," Jocelyn Kane, acting executive director of the Entertainment Commission, told the Guardian. Her office already has looked at the different types of scanners that clubs could use and has discussed the idea with several technology companies.


I think this is great idea......but what will they do about COM#.....??

Posted by Guest on Dec. 07, 2010 @ 11:28 pm

This does really raise the question as to how far they will take this whole invasion of privacy that they are doing all over the place. By just saying that it is to better protect you from violence of some kind they are already doing full body scans in airports and now they want to scan your ID just for going into a club... whats next? a tracking chip in your body for day to day life just to keep you from walking off a bridge and into the ocean?

Posted by Mike D on Dec. 07, 2010 @ 11:59 pm

will cause a lot more problems than it could ever solve. Having worked in bars and clubs, attempting to scan every customers ID isn't going to go over. I suppose it would kill off the clubs that are inviting to thugs, and maybe thats the idea?

It is odd that the Guardian is against more invasive "Orwellian" government. True believers have never really been known for a single standard so I guess its to be expected.

Posted by matlocker on Dec. 08, 2010 @ 6:40 am

There was no closed session on November 30 to discuss the city attorney's opinion, although it was distributed to commissioners at the November 23 meeting. ID scanning, as you mentioned, is the most controversial item among the proposed conditions. The fact that clubs might be able to attach anecdotal information to individual ID scans and the possibility that this information might also be shared among all clubs using the same network, is particularly troubling. This is on the agenda for next Tuesday's EC meeting.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 08, 2010 @ 7:59 am

Humm. Genital pat-downs at the airport. US Government Fusion Centers, 200+ FEMA detention camps / "National Emergency Centers", ID swipes to enter a nightclub. Sure seems like a pattern to all of this.....
Next step? A trumped-up emergency used to declare martial law?

Posted by Tommy Gunn on Dec. 08, 2010 @ 3:31 pm

Night-club entertainment is not a vital part of San Francisco's economy, so get over yourself. Don't confuse binge drinking and vomiting in the streets with "urban life". Go build your cookie-cutter nightclubs in Walnut Creek and Hayward, so you can save most of your boozer customers some driving time.

Really, this whole issue pits a cabal of people in their 20's and 30's, largely from the suburbs, along with the alcohol-industrial complex, headed by SFBG, against the rest of the city. The police are taking these actions because that's what most people who vote and pay taxes in S.F. want.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 08, 2010 @ 3:33 pm

First of all, 30% of San Francisco's population is in the 20-30 range, which makes a pretty significant portion of the population. Just because you cant take a sip of alcohol without "vomiting in the streets" doesn't mean that that is the case for then tens of thousands who go to nightclubs in San Francisco every night.

San Francisco has been globally known for being a center of live music and entertainment (you know, those things that happen at nightclubs) for over fifty years.

Anyone who thinks that the government tracking its citizens is a good idea needs to get the hell out of this country. If you really hate our civil liberties that much than maybe you should spend some time in North Korea or China.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 08, 2010 @ 4:18 pm

“Our nightlife economy is really important to San Francisco,” says Jocelyn Kane, the (Entertainment) commission’s deputy director. "
Measuring the Nightlife Economy
By: Garrett Peck
May 10, 2010


Tourism is the backbone of the San Francisco economy... San Francisco attracts the third-highest number of foreign tourists of any city in the U.S. and claims Pier 39 near Fisherman's Wharf as the third-most popular tourist attraction in the nation. More than 16 million visitors arrived in San Francisco in 2007, injecting nearly $8.2 billion into the economy—both all-time high figures for the city. With a large hotel infrastructure and a world-class convention facility in the Moscone Center, San Francisco is also among the top-ten North American destinations for conventions and conferences.


noun, verb, -balled, -bal·ling.
1.a small group of secret plotters, as against a government or person in authority.
2.the plots and schemes of such a group; intrigue.
3.a clique, as in artistic, literary, or theatrical circles.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 08, 2010 @ 4:38 pm

There will never be any real change in California until the voters stop electing dimwits to city and state government. San Francisco’s ban of the Happy Meal is symbolic of the idiocy that permeates every tentacle that government reaches out to us. Fight Back! Watch the video! One minute of your time can lead to serious change.:

Posted by Jim W on Dec. 11, 2010 @ 8:51 am

"It's not intended to be exploited,"

it never is ...

Posted by pooch on Dec. 17, 2010 @ 4:32 am
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