San Francisco Launches New Nightlife Association

Is this just one more piece to add to the already-confusing and overcrowded puzzle that is San Francisco nightlife regulation, or is it a step in the right direction? Organizers of the newly formed California Music and Culture Association hope it’s the latter.

The CMCA launched last week and intends to serve as a political advocacy group dedicated to helping the nightlife and entertainment community in San Francisco. The group, which is modeled after the New York Nightlife Association (see “Measuring the Nightlife Economy” in this issue of Nightclub Confidential) and the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, seeks to unify the entire nighttime economy, from theaters to DJs to nightclub operators. Though it is launching in San Francisco, organizers intend to take the concept statewide, registering as a non-profit trade association. The group’s president, Sean Manchester, who owns San Francisco nightclubs Wish and Mighty, told The San Francisco Appeal that the group has been in the works for about a year.

The CMCA will advocate on the behalf of nightlife but will also attempt to pressure members to clean up their acts, according to San Francisco Weekly. “We're certainly not an anti-regulation entity,” Tim Benetti, a partner in Bottom of the Hill and a former deputy city attorney, told SF Weekly. “We appreciate that they have jobs to do. We want to lessen the need for them to perform an overly regulatory role.” Additionally, clubs can earn CMAC certification by meeting certain standards, similar to a Good Housekeeping seal of approval, Deborah Jackman, a member of the group's board of directors and the general manager of Mezzanine, told the newspaper.

The group also will educate its members through workshops on topics such as management, safety, neighbor relations and safety compliance, fulfilling its slogan of “Responsibility. Accountability. Standard Bearers. Economic Drivers.”

A relationship will be built among the CMCA, city police and fire departments and the San Francisco Entertainment Commission, organizers hope, and it’s already got backing from some city officials, including City Attorney Dennis Herrera.

Herrera recently filed a lawsuit seeking a court order to shutter Suede, a Fisherman’s Wharf nightclub that came under fire after a string of violent incidents. The city’s seven-person Entertainment Commission has the power to grant permits but not revoke them, which has been a point of contention as to where the power should rest: with the EC or the police, as Mayor Gavin Newsom suggests. Does the formation of yet another association muddy the playing field of the EC, police and city officials vying for power? Likely not, but never say never…

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