San Francisco police permits officer Jim Ludlow had the best of intentions last fall when he decided to crack down on 24-hour doughnut shops in the Mission. The shops, notorious as hangouts for the sleazy, were operating during the early hours without the proper permits. But Ludlow's good intentions had unintended consequences. His doughnut crackdown forced the late-night closure of Noe Valley's only after-hours eatery -- and a favorite hangout for night-duty police officers.
Ludlow's crusade began in November. He hoped to cut down crime by curtailing the pre-dawn business hours of two 24-hour doughnut shops at the high-crime corners of 16th Street and Mission and 16th Street and Valencia.
The businesses were operating without so-called "cabaret" permits, which allow businesses to sell food or drink between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. In the interest of fairness, Ludlow notified two other 24-hour doughnut shops in the area -- Hunt's Donuts on 20th Street and Mission (now Magic Donuts) and Happy Donuts on 24th Street and Church in Noe Valley -- that they also needed cabaret permits.
The shop on 16th and Valencia has since gone out of business, and the one at 16th and Mission now closes between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. Hunt's, at 20th and Mission, chose to fight. It won a cabaret permit on a technicality and remains open nonstop.
Still tangled up in the city bureaucracy that Ludlow unleashed is Happy Donuts, the cop hangout that was the tamest of the four doughnut shops.
Happy Donuts applied for a cabaret permit. But the city Planning Department denied the request, saying that the site is not zoned for that use. Happy Donuts would need to get a conditional-use permit, which is generally harder to obtain, to stay open in the wee morning hours.
For now, the shop remains closed between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. -- a circumstance that has made life miserable for Ludlow. Officers from the Mission and Ingleside police stations continually pester him about the status of their beloved doughnut joint.
"Everyone's unhappy, including the commander," says an exasperated Ludlow. "He was out roaming the district one night, and he couldn't get a cup of coffee. He said, 'What the heck is going on out there?' "
Be Open-Minded--or Else
An article in the weekly Berkeley Voice on a new charter school started by Berkeley public school parents reminds Dog Bites once again why it's wise to stay clear of people with too much time on their hands and excessive righteousness in their hearts.
New Village elementary school (which is actually just over the line in Oakland, because the Berkeley Unified School District twice declined to authorize it) is the brainchild of two dozen families, the Voice's Marc Breindel reports. They have designed the curriculum around an "anti-bias" theme as opposed to a "non-bias" theme, explained Colleen Miller, one of the organizers, to Breindel.
"Instead of waiting for prejudices to reveal themselves," Breindel writes, "New Village plans to bring up issues of cultural diversity on a day to day basis, 'celebrating difference' in the curriculum and during social time."
Miller explained her version of open-mindedness more firmly: "Basically, if you're not into our philosophy ... then this is not the place for you.