The stories of throwing a block party are anathema. The process of putting on a city-sanctioned event is riddled with paperwork and permits, making it all but next to impossible for smaller groups to navigate. For example, there are forms from the Entertainment Commission, Fire Department, Police Department, Department of Public Health and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency… and that’s just for starters.
“I think that’s the sad thing. I’d like to think of us as the department of fun, and we want to promote fun and entertainment and culture in our neighborhoods,” said Maggie Weiland, executive director of the Entertainment Commission. “But I can’t tell you how often it is that we have folks call us… and when they hear about how complex it is, sometimes they’ll say, ‘Well, never mind I’m not going to do it.’ Or they say, ‘Never mind,’ and have the event without the permits, or they take it to another city altogether.
The experiences of many event organizers, who talk about how difficult it is to put on an event in San Francisco, are the inspiration behind a new executive order from Mayor London Breed. The order will create a steering committee for events; trying to figure out ways to make the permitting process faster, centralized and less expensive.
“Our iconic street fairs, concerts, cultural events and neighborhood block parties help us to celebrate our community and make our city more vibrant,” Breed said in a statement. “We need to make it easier to put these events on, not force people to spend countless hours applying for permits.”
That’s the kind of “light-bulb on”, “duh” statement that should be applauded and encouraged. Because after all, shouldn’t City Hall be helping small event organizers cut complexity and costs, so that there are even more neighborhood-defining, “only in SF” events?