Sound Off: North Beach Booze Ban

Supervisor Aaron Peskin’s move to ban new liquor licenses in North Beach may end up loosening considerably after today’s San Francisco Planning Commission hearing, but at least one critic says the suggested concessions aren’t enough.

The ordinance up for review today would ban all new on and off-sales of alcohol in the North Beach Commercial District. That means that no new bars, liquor stores or restaurants that sell alcohol would be able to open for at least five years. It would also prohibit the transfer of licenses within the neighborhood and would automatically revoke the license of any business that closed for more than 30 days.

However, Peskin’s office indicated today that the supervisor would accept recommendations by the San Francisco Planning Department to loosen the restrictions. In a report, the department made three major recommendations to change the ordinance:

Instead of an outright ban, planners recommended a cap on the number of licenses. That means no additional alcohol-selling establishments could be opened, but that if one closed, another could open. The planning department also recommended that licenses be transferable within the neighborhood, and that the 30-day clause on considering a business abandoned be lengthened to 18 months.

A source within Peskin’s office indicated the supervisor was open to those suggestions. The concern, according to Peskin’s office, is not necessarily controlling drunken behavior in the neighborhood, but controlling the types of businesses that open there, affecting the character of the neighborhood. The supervisor is seeking a way to make the neighborhood more friendly to service-oriented businesses like hardware stores and other retail.

But North Beach Chamber of Commerce head Marsha Garland said that even if the proposed changes to the ordinance go into effect, she would still oppose it.

“With the impact of online shopping, retail’s never going to be the same again. You cannot force a shoe store into a shop when the landlords are charging restaurant prices. It doesn’t work that way,” Garland said today. “They’re not paying any attention to the reality. You’ve got to let the market determine what goes into the space.”

You can watch the Planning Commission meeting on SFGTV, starting at 1:30 this afternoon.

Limiting booze in North Beach? Are you drunk? [Fault Lines]
Full text of ordinance PDF [SF Board of Supervisors]
CurbedWire: Peskin to Ban Alcohol, Screw With Zoning Map [Curbed SF]
Planning Commission Agenda, Jan. 24, 2008 [SF Planning]
San Francisco Zoning Map [SFgov]

Sound Off: North Beach Booze Ban