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Meeting Information


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Wednesday, February 11, 2004

3:00 p.m.
25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70


  1. Roll Call

    Members present: Commissioners Dugald Stermer,  Rod Freebairn-Smith, P. J. Johnston

    Members absent: Commissioners Anne Brauer, Denise Roth

    Staff present: Director of Cultural Affairs Richard Newirth, Street Artists Program Director Howard Lazar, Certification Clerk Evelyn Russell

    In attendance were street artists Michael Addario, John Ammann, James Billy, Matilde Cheng, Robert Clark, William Clark, Linda Hagen, Brian Hopper, Dolores Kalom, Dikran Knoble, Vivian Lee, Sharon MacDougall, Enrique Perez, Jimmy Sha, Alithea Shuey, George Shuey, Edward Steneck, Matt Summers, Sean Yore.

    Commissioner Stermer, Chair, called the meeting to order at 3:12 p.m. and took the agenda items in the following order:

  2. Program Director's Report

    Program Director Howard Lazar submitted copies of recently received news articles on the Street Artists Program: a February 2, 2004 article entitled "San Francisco's Other Street Issue: The 'Storeless' " by Katie Vaughn of Stanford University's newspaper The Cardinal Inquirer and an April 26, 2003 article entitled "San Francisco Arts and Crafts" by Robert K. Liu of Ornament magazine, acknowledging the Street Artists Program as the springboard for the successful business of former street artists Kelley Ladas and Peter Wiley.

    The Program Director further reported on the certificate fee increase, the first in over twelve years, which commenced November 10, 2003, and the next increase which has been approved to commence July 1, 2004.

  3. Hearing on street artist proposal to amend lottery procedure for assigning selling spaces by (1) eliminating the Downtown and Wharf lotteries system and replacing it with a single lottery system held on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday with sign-up days on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday; (2) eliminating the mini-lottery as well as the unofficial "mini-mini lottery" for unassigned spaces and replacing these lotteries with an allocation of unassigned spaces by ranking order of lottery numbers beginning with the lowest number; (3) allowing Lottery Committee members and helpers to enter the lottery and receive a number, allowing for the free selling space they receive for working to be considered as a first use of their number

    Street Artist William Clark explained his proposal, highlighting the following points: (1) Under the present system, there are twenty-six lotteries - main, mini, and "mini-mini" lotteries - per week, not counting noontime lotteries and other lotteries throughout the day, requiring the efforts of forty helpers and Lottery Committee members per week; whereas the new proposal would require only thirty-onehelpers and members per week. (2) The proposal would open nine new spaces a week to other artists who have the lowest numbers in the lottery, making for a total of 468 prime spaces available for the year. (3) All lotteries would be at 9:00 a.m. (no longer 9:00 and 9:30), eliminating the present confusion over lottery times for the various days. (4) Two sign-up tables (one for Downtown spaces, the other for Wharf spaces) would simultaneously accommodate the artists signing in for the two selling areas, reducing the length of time of the present lottery and sign-up procedure. (5) For artists saving their numbers to obtain spaces on the following day, there would no longer be a time-consuming mini lottery but an allocation of the spaces in ranking order of the numbers, lowest to highest, receivied by the artists at the previoys day's lottery. (6) If a space were to be vacated and become available, there would no longer be the practice of holding a lottery and requiring a winning artist to use or "burn" his/her lottery number, as the space would be given to the artist holding the lowest number from the previous lottery. (7) Lottery Committee members would be allowed to choose a space in either Downtown or Wharf areas, no longer being restricted to the area of the particular lottery they conduct.

    Commissioner Freebairn-Smith asked those who would testify to address the following questions: Which lottery system achieves the greatest balance, or democracy, for the artists?  Which is the simplest, most direct, most easily managed system?  Which is the least susceptible to corruption?

    The following artists voiced opposition to the proposal: James Billy, Edward Steneck, Sharon MacDougall, Dik Knoble, Dolores Kalom, Sean Yore, Michael Addario, George Shuey, Brian Hopper, Jimmy Sha, Matt Summers.  The following comments were made: (1) The present system works well and is not complicated; if there were to be any changes made, there should be one lottery per day.  (2) Whenever the proposal has arisen in the past, the street artists rejected it and the commissioners understood the importance of having two separate lotteries.  (3) The present system is especially important to single certificate-holders by allowing them to enter both lotteries in order to work both days of a lottery period - for example, Saturday Downtown and Sunday at the Wharf.  (4) The proposal takes away the artists' opportunities.  (5) The elimination of the mini lotteries and the usage of main lottery numbers for all mini sign-ins will punish an artist with a high (poor) number many times throughout an entire lottery period, and such an artist will not have a chance at the leftover spaces.  (6) An unlucky streak of poor weekend numbers can present an artist from working the entire season - especially a crucial season like summer.  (7) Problems will arise from the proposed system, such as two lists of incoming number slips engendered by two sign-in tables and the resulting difficulty in discerning numbers that have been used.  (8) Difficulties inherent in the present system have been remedied over the years, making for a system that works well.  (9) Under the proposed system, an artist who receives a poor number for the Wharf on Saturday cannot work that day and could face the loss of a weekend of revenue; whereas, under the present system, the artist can work Downtown.  (10) While the proposed system offers only one more day's selling per year, the present system offers more opportunities due to three Downtown lotteries and three Wharf lotteries per week and mini and "mini-mini" lotteries which are "list extensions."  (11) While the present system involved many rules and penalties and is due for an overhaul, the proposed system does not ensure more fairness - for example, 50% of the artists have less chance of obtaining a viable space than they do under the present system.  (12)  The present system plugs up loopholes of unfairness because of its built-in safeguards.  (13) Under the present system, a single certificate-holder with a poor number can still get a viable space by using a "mini-mini" lottery number.  (14) The proposed system will not be beneficial all year round because, during some seasons, it is difficult to get the required three helpers to do the work of the lottery; furthermore, the proposal will confuse new street artists who might join the Lottery Committee.  (15) Under the present two-lottery system, it is possible for an artist to leave at 9:45 a.m. and get to work, whereas a one-lottery system will delay artists to 11:00 a.m.

    Street Artist Linda Hagen addressed several problems resulting from the present lottery system which included the practice of certain artists signing in for Downtown and the Wharf at the same time.  She said that the new proposal will correct some of the problems.

    Street Artist Edward Steneck submitted a petition of 105 signatures in opposition to the proposal.

    Street Artist Robert Clark supported the proposal as follows:  (1) The last time Mr. Steneck submitted a petition opposing a proposal by the Clarks, the petitioners found that they benefited from the measure.  (2) The new proposal does not change the procedure for artists to obtain spaces on the second day of a lottery period: the artists holding numbers have priority over artists who used their numbers on the previous day.  (3) Under the present system, a single artist is up against family units who have two-to-one odds against him in obtaining a space; single artists should laud the new proposal because it increases their odds.  (4) By eliminating the number of lottery helpers during the year, more spaces are yielded for all the artists; and the more choices of spaces an artist has, the more the artist's lottery number increases in value.

    Street Artist William Clark rebutted the opporition as follows:  (1) Under the proposed system, an artist will have a choice of working in a space either Downtown or at the Wharf.  (2) If the artists want to change the system to a daily lottery system, it will require an amendment by the Board of Supervisors; the proposed system, on the other hand, avoids having to go to the Supervisors.  (3) By combining the two lotteries, the odds of obtaining a space are increased for artists receiving high numbers.

    Commissioner Stermer commented that some of the artists seem to say that the present system is working well and if it isn't broken, it shouldn't be fixed; while others seem to say that it's partially broken but that the new proposal will not fix it.  He urged the artists, in their discussions, to consider ways to fix what requires fixing.

    Commissioner Johnston commented that the opponents state that the key benefit of the present lottery system is that it increases the artists' opportunity to obtain spaces, and that the dual-location lottery system provides some level of ability to address different needs of the artists.

    Commissioner Stermer requested that the item be continued for two months. He urged both sides to meet, to keep an open mind, and to produce an agreement for submittal to the Commissioners.

    Commissioner Johnston stated that, given the current amount of resistance to the proposal, it was not just the Commissioners whom the Clarks needed to persuade; it was incumbent upon them to persuade the majority of the artists that the proposal will increase their opportunities and will improve the efficiency of the present system itself.  It was important that the people who will have to live with the new system will accept it.

    Program Director Lazar urged both sides, in their communication, to produce visual graphs or charts illustrating levels of opportunity in obtaining spaces during a given week under the present system and under the proposed system.  Such illustrations, he said, would be useful for the Commissioners as well.

    Commissioner Freebairn-Smith concurred and stated that, during the hearing, he had attempted to diagram the two systems.

  4. Hearing and possible motion to approve proposal by Program Director to request Board of Supervisors for permanent designation of temporary winter holiday spaces "Z-45", "Z-46", and "Z-47"

    Program Director Lazar requested that the item be continued to the following month because the leasing agent of property fronting the proposed spaces was unable to attend today's hearing.

    Commissioner Stermer stated that the item would be continued to the next meeting of the Street Artists Committee.

  5. Hearing and possible motion to approve issuance or renewal of certificate

    Jennifer Clement - Certificate #7019 (expired December 26, 2003).
    Alleged violations: (1) Selling in a location not designated by the Board of Supervisors, 2nd incident; (2) exceeding display length, width, and height regulations, 2nd incident; (3) having a salesperson; (4) refusing to cease selling in an illegal location, exceeding display regulations, and having a salesperson.

    Ms. Clement was not present.

    In presenting the case, Program Director Lazar stated that, because of the 3rd and 4th charges of serious violations of the street artists ordinance, the issuance or renewal of Ms. Clement's certificate was withheld pending hearing by the Street Artists Committee.

    The Commissioners studied the following documents: (1) the Program Director's December 11, 2003 "Inspector's Logbook" describing the first incident of Ms. Clement's alleged selling in an illegal space with an oversized display on Market Street during the winter holiday selling season; (2) the "NOTICE OF WARNING" sent to Ms. Clement on December 12, 2003: (3) the December 22, 2003 "Inspector's Logbook" describing the second incident of Ms. Clement's alleged selling in an illegal space with an oversized display and this time having a salesperson and refusing the Program Director's numerous requests for her to cease the violations; (4) the "NOTICE OF WITHHOLDING OF CERTIFICATE" and the "NOTICE OF HEARING" sent to Ms. Clement on January 20, 2004.

    Commissioner Freebairn-Smith moved that Jennifer Clement be found in violation of the street artists ordinance by selling in a location not designated by the Board of Supervisors, 2nd incident, by exceeding the display length, width, and height regulations, 2nd incident, by having a salesperson, and by refusing to cease selling in an illegal location, exceeding display regulations, and having a salesperson; the motion was seconded by Commissioner Johnston and unanimously approved.

    Commissioner Freebairn-Smith moved that issuance or renewal of certificate for Jennifer Clement by denied; the motion was seconded by Commissioner Johnston and unanimously approved.

  6. New business

    Street Artist William Clark stated that, relative to the hearing on the Program Director's request for permanent designation of spaces "Z-45", "46" and "47", he was under the impression that previously Macy's had indicated agreement on a request for permanent designation of spaces "Z-48", "49" and "50"; Mr. Clark asked that the Program Committee consider this as well at the upcoming hearing.

    Commissioner Stermer requested that both proposals of spaces be listed on the next agenda.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 4:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted:


Howard Lazar

Street Artists Program Director

February 23, 2004