Legislation to Protect Nightclubs from "Complainy-Pants" Neighbors Passes

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Odd Future perform at Slim's in 2011. (Photo: Gabe Meline)

In a victory for San Francisco's music community, a measure to protect nightclubs from "complainy-pants" neighbors was approved by the city's Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The measure, advanced by Board President London Breed, prohibits those living next to nightclubs from filing a complaint about noise or other nuisances if the club is operating in adherence to its entertainment permit. It also requires developers of new residences -- condos, in most cases -- to disclose to potential residents the existence of and activity at nearby nightclubs.

Though the Red Devil Lounge has already closed and the Elbo Room will shut down later this year, other clubs around the city have faced uncertain futures due to looming development. Breed crafted the legislation after the Independent, on Divisadero Street, became aware of two mixed-use residential plans adjacent to the club. Recently, a nine-unit condo project directly behind the Bottom of the Hill, on 17th Street, passed its environmental review stage.

Even more stories came to light at a Planning Commission meeting back in March, according to SFist: a DJ at the Make-Out Room, Parker Gibbs, reported that the club had received complaints from neighbors at a new condo development that, ironically, touted the club as a nearby amenity in its marketing materials. As far back as 2011, the SF Weekly reports, Slim's faced a 10-day liquor license suspension due to neighbors' routine daily calls to police. And last year, the San Francisco Chronicle related the story of a resident who bought a $1 million condo on 19th Street and swiftly began complaining about the Chapel, the Mission-District club just around the corner.

Breed's legislation is hailed as a victory for nightclubs, music fans, and -- let's face it -- common sense, even drawing coverage by music-industry journal Billboard. And though the measure doesn't stop rising rents or amend the permitting process to make it any easier to open a new nightclub, it clearly provides a much-needed layer of protection for nightlife owners and their patrons.