Over the past six months, San Francisco nightlife advocates have been
denouncing what they see as a major crackdown on their industry, which
started two years ago when the California Department of Alcoholic
Beverage Control (ABC) came down hard on all-ages music clubs,
sparking protracted and costly legal battles. In March, SF Weekly wrote a
cover story about a police-ABC nightlife team in SOMA, which, nightclub
owners alleged, had crossed the line between enforcement and
The debate about nightlife regulation has been
heated on all sides, with police, city officials, and some neighborhood
residents painting a picture of a nightclub scene gone wild, and
nightclub owners and staff denouncing police harassment and the
smothering of the city's lucrative entertainment business. Several
venues discussed joining a racketeering lawsuit, and one nightclub
owner actually filed suit against the police and the city earlier this year.
its glossy, PR-laden launch last night, CMAC is positioning itself as a
"wiser heads prevail" organization. It's registered as a non-profit
trade association funded through membership dues and donations, and
aims for a statewide reach, starting with its San Francisco chapter,
which already includes about 50 venues. It's slogan is "Responsibility.
Accountability. Standard Bearers. Economic Drivers."
"responsibility" piece includes hosting workshops to educate members
about management, safety issues, developing good relationships with
neighbors, and regulation compliance, said Deborah Jackman, a member of
the group's board of directors, and the general manager of Mezzanie.
There will be workshop later this month on how to comply with the
city's new smoking law.
Peer pressure on its own members will
come in the form of a CMAC certification, "like a Good Housekeeping
seal of approval," she said, that will require venues to meet certain
Benetti and Jackman said CMAC aimed to serve as a conciliatory bridge between enforcement agencies and nightclubs.
Benetti said this makes CMAC different from the San Francisco Late Night Coalition, founded by Terrance Alan, the city's most influential nightclub advocate and power broker.
Alan, who is at the center of the conflict-of-interest charges that are
hobbling San Francisco's nightclub-regulating Entertainment Commission,
is also the secretary of CMAC's board of directors. Benetti said that
Alan was just one member of the board, and had no more
responsibility than anyone else.
So far, Benetti and Jackman said, there has been a positive response to the group by
City Attorney Dennis Hererra, and supervisors Ross Mirkarimi, David
Campos, and Bevan Dufty -- although not from David Chiu, the supervisor
who has been leading the push for reform of the city's nightclub
For the record, one of the launch party's sponsors was SF Weekly.