San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney Announces Legislation To Preserve San Francisco Nightlife

KCBS Radio/Melissa Culross

Plan Introduced To Protect Nightlife From Office Development

Melissa Culross
June 14, 2019 - 10:48 am

SAN FRANCISCO — The clubs, bars and entertainment venues in the South of Market neighborhood need to be protected from real-estate pressure, according to the night owls who party in them and say they offer more than just a chance to hear music and cut loose. 

To many, the city's nightlife is a huge part of its character and culture and they worry that it's under attack from developers looking to build offices in the area.

"This city was founded on nightlife, you know the Barbary Coast, all that stuff, it has a huge tradition of nightlife going back for generations," said Micah Burns, who owns several venues around the city, including Monarch in SoMa. "It's actually why a lot of people come here from around the world." 

It's also why Burns is supporting legislation from Supervisor Matt Haney to change building use rules in SoMa. Under his plan, property owners who want to convert bars, nightclubs and other entertainment venues into offices, which can command much higher rent, must get approval from the city's Planning Commission. 

Haney's measure comes in response to the plight of the popular SoMa nightclub Mezzanine. The club's lease is up, and the landlord wants to turn the space into offices.

"All across western SoMa, if our legislation is to pass, we will actually have controls that require added protections for nightlife and entertainment," said Haney. "It's in the interest of a San Francisco that's actually creative, that builds community, that's innovative, that has identity and culture and a place that we all want to be, including the folks who want to build offices here."

Sarah Vasquez works at Mezzanine, and is one of many who came to a rally to support Haney's plan on Thursday.

"Nightlife's important because it's a way for people to get out of their heads, to escape the mundane realities of everyday life, the 9 to 5 job, and actually go be a part of something," she said. 

The community component of SoMa nightlife is what keeps music fan Lauren Vasquez coming back.

"We are actually part of a community, and the dancing's what brings us together," she said, "and then we find our people, and that makes San Francisco great."