Busting bars - Page 2

State agency imposes its strange morality and bewildering bureaucracy on SF clubs

Regardless of the specific numbers, all are being threatened on the grounds that "they altered the character of their businesses [...] which is different from the business plan they submitted to ABC when they were originally pursuing their ABC license."

Many of the bars in question have been around and thriving for decades with the same focus on business, music, and culture. Slim's, for example, has been in San Francisco for 22 years, going the first 20 without a citation. But in the past two years, it has had four citations between it and the Great American Music Hall.

There is much speculation from all sides of this war about its causes, but no one seems to know why ABC, seemingly out of nowhere, started its crusade against music venues and clubs in San Francisco. Even the ABC is vague and unresponsive about this, broadly claiming it is acting on complaints and just doing its job.

Since the inception of the crackdown is a mystery, it seems fitting to focus on finding a resolution. The last thing anyone in this city wants is to see the clubs and venues shut down, something club operators say hurts the city's culture. "Kids growing up with live music can only be good," said Dawn Holiday of Slim's.

Beyond the culture and rich nightlife in question, bars and clubs bring in a significant amount of money to the state. Some of the bars alone can bring the state more than $5,000 each month in sales tax. In the current economic crunch, shutting down reliable sources of revenue doesn't seem wise.

After two years of battles, ABC has taken some of the bigger hearings off the calendar in an attempt to come to a peaceful resolution. After talks with Hardy, Leno is hopeful for a positive end to the battles. Leno does not want to see any business closed and believes the best way to ensure a thriving nightlife is to establish a special license for the venues. If the only problem with our beloved venues is technicalities with the license, let's change the license, not the venues.

In the meantime, the community is rallying around the bars and entertainment venues, showing its support. DNA Lounge started asking for donations for its legal proceedings. Visit its Web site for the full story and ways to contribute. When Buckshot reopens July 4, show up and support them. Maybe the best way to fight back is to go out and have a drink, listen to music, dance with queers, and over-indulge in unadulterated San Francisco culture.

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