Entertainment Commission suspended permits for ‘Suite 181’ for 48-hours because of escalating violence, public safety problems
SAN FRANCISCO (Dec. 31, 2010) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today successfully defended the 48-hour suspension of entertainment and extended hours permits for a controversial Tenderloin nightclub over New Year’s Eve due to serious concerns about the escalating pattern of violence and public safety problems there. Lawyers for “Suite 181” at 181 Eddy Street appeared at an emergency hearing in San Francisco Superior Court this afternoon to seek a Temporary Restraining Order against the City’s public safety suspension, which the Entertainment Commission issued yesterday. After a hearing that lasted almost two hours, Judge Richard A. Kramer issued a written ruling rejecting the club’s argument that the First Amendment prevented the City from protecting safety on New Year’s Eve. Judge Kramer held that the “rights claimed by plaintiffs are not absolute and are subject to reasonable restraints regulation in order to serve a public interest.”
“This case is about defending city officials’ duty to protect public safety when there is clear evidence for doing so,” said Herrera. “Suite 181 has required 190 police service calls in the preceding year alone, and the lawlessness and violence there have been escalating recently. The Entertainment Commission’s emergency permit suspension isn’t simply about protecting safety. It’s also about assuring fairness to the large majority of responsible entertainment venues that invest the resources necessary to keep their customers and neighborhoods safe. I applaud Judge Kramer for recognizing the serious responsibility San Francisco officials have to protect our residents and visitors.”
Herrera’s defense of the Entertainment Commission’s action, which was recommended by the San Francisco Police Department, relied on the significantly heightened risk of violent crime on New Year’s Eve, citing police estimates that San Francisco can expect at least 500,000 out-of-town visitors for the holiday. Additional evidence presented to the court established that the errant establishment had been responsible for 190 calls for service to police in the preceding year alone, including for incidents involving shootings, assaults, sexual battery and unlawful weapons possession. Lawyers for Herrera’s office argued that the Entertainment Commission was fulfilling its duty to protect public safety by suspending the club’s permits, citing Acting Executive Director Jocelyn Kane’s conclusion that “there is a substantial risk of a violent incident or other serious public safety problem occurring at Suite 181 on New Year’s Eve.” The operative period for the suspension upheld today is Dec. 31, 2010 at 3 p.m. through Jan. 2, 2011 at 3 p.m. Lawyers for the club have advised the City that the venue will be open until 2 a.m. as a bar only.
- PDF of the Suite 181 permit suspension presskit (Dec. 31, 2010)