By Steven T. Jones
The How Weird Street Faire, which had its permits denied by city officials a couple weeks ago, won a bittersweet victory this morning at an appeals hearing before Department of Parking and Transportation administrator Bond Yee. "It's clear to me this event is popular, and that's a good thing, but that's also a bad thing," Yee said after hearing from supporters of the event and neighbors who complained that it's just too big and loud. So he cut the baby in two by agreeing that it was too late to find a new venue for the May 6 event and awarding its permits for this year, but attaching several restrictive conditions (most notably, cutting the music off at 6 pm rather than 8) and ruling that this is the last year the event can be held in the Howard Street neighborhood. "It's my opinion that the event is too big for this venue," Yee said. Yet even if event promoters can meet Yee's conditions, they must still meet pending requirements from the San Francisco Police Department, whose commander for the region, Capt. Dennis O'Leary, spoke against the event at the hearing. "I support the community in this matter and I hear their voices. They don't want it to happen," he said. Yet event organizers submitted a petition signed by 100 people from the neighborhood that support the event, whereas those complaining about the event number less than 10, although many are quite upset about having up to 10,000 descend on their neighborhood for the day. Last year's event almost got canceled after police tried to double their security fees from the previous year, although higher-ups intervened and they were brought back down to reasonable levels. Asked by the Guardian about his apparent bias against this event, O'Leary said he wouldn't be unduly harsh with How Weird promoters: "That's not my reputation. I'm very fair." Yet he also said, "I haven't made up my mind as to staffing levels."