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Meeting Information


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Wednesday, February 14, 2007
3:00 p.m.
25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70

Minutes (as amended by March 14, 2007 meeting)

Members present:  Commissioners Alexander Lloyd, Jose Cuellar, P. J. Johnston

Members absent: none

Staff present: Director of Cultural Affairs Richard Newirth, Street Artists Program Director Howard Lazar

Commissioner Lloyd, Chair, called the meeting to order at 3:15 p.m.

  1. Presentation of Street Artists Program budget for Fiscal Year 2007-08

    Street Artists Program Director Howard Lazar presented the Street Artists Program budget for fiscal year 2007-08. He discussed the history of the current street artist certificate fee. In October, 2003, the Board of Supervisors, at the request of the Arts Commission, passed Ordinance 240-03 which raised the artists’ fee in three increments to the present annual fee of $419.20. The fee amount has remained for two years: 2005-06 and 2006-07. With the anticipated fee revenue and usage of the Program’s accumulated fee savings from prior years, the Program Director proposed that the fee remain for a third year.

    Mr. Lazar described the Program’s expenses. He reported on the actual fee revenue and expenses of 2005-06 and the projected revenue, expenses, and usage of the savings to offset the deficits for 2006-07 and 2007-08. The revenue was based on 390–400 artists. By the end of 2007-08, the savings was projected to be depleted. The expenses of 2008-09 would necessitate a new fee.

    Through the Chair, the Program Director responded to questions by Street Artist Bob Clark. Mr. Lazar stated that the 390–400 street artists figure included the present thirteen honorably discharged disabled veterans whose fees are waived; and he had not yet calculated a new fee for 2008-09.

    Street Artist Mike Addario stated that he surmised that the new fee for 2008-09 would be increased by approximately fifty dollars.

    Mr. Clark stated that a more accurate figure would reflect the number of artists minus the thirteen non-paying veterans.

  2. Street Artists Program Director’s report

    Mike Hanley magazine cover. Program Director Lazar introduced Street Artist Mike Hanley and submitted a copy of the January edition of greenkind magazine whose cover showed a photo blowup of one of Mr. Hanley’s cut-coin pendants. The next edition will feature a story on Mr. Hanley. The Commissioners congratulated him.

    Union Square Business Improvement District enforcement assistance. Program Director Lazar praised the efforts of the Union Square Business Improvement District (“BID”), headed by Leigh Ann Baughman, whose ambassadors (among their varied duties) assist Mr. Lazar by monitoring street artists and sending him e-mail photos daily of alleged violators. This permits the Program Director to issue written warnings or take stronger steps against the violators. Thanks to the BID’s monitoring, the Program Director observed general street artist compliance with the rules onMarket Street—even during the critical winter holiday selling season.

    Program Director enforcement activities. Since July, 2006, the Program Director issued four written warnings resulting from BID monitoring; twelve warnings resulting from monitoring by the Program’s Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Craftsmen Examiners and from complaints by various artists; and six notices of intent to not renew artists’ certificates. In addition, Mr. Lazar, as hearing officer, conducted four hearings with artists of alleged repetitive violations.

    Acknowledging the beneficial assistance of the BID, Commissioner Lloyd asked that the Program consider eliciting the help of local business organizations in enforcement of the other street artist districts. This would be a low-cost measure to protect the artists who follow the rules.

    Request by Manuel Loli for renewal of certificate. Mr. Lazar reported that Manuel Loli, who faces a final hearing next month on alleged violations, came to the Program office and requested that his certificate be renewed. Mr. Lazar refused, in keeping with the Commission’s procedure to deny renewal of an alleged violator’s certificate pending outcome of hearing. He invited Mr. Loli to attend today’s meeting in order to request the Commissioners to order a renewal of his certificate. Unless the Commissioners were to direct a renewal, the refusal would be maintained until the outcome of Mr. Loli’s hearing.

    Mr. Loli was not present.

    Commissioner Johnston noted that Mr. Loli had asked the Program Committee to postpone his hearing of last December because it conflicted with his selling in a fair. The Commissioner stated that he was not persuaded to renew the certificate at this time.

    Commissioners Cuellar and Lloyd concurred and stated that the Program Director had acted appropriately.

  3. Hearing on Arts Commission procedures, adopted June 7, 1993, for waiving the street artist certificate fee for any honorably discharged veteran who is physically unable to obtain a livelihood by manual labor (hearing requested by street artists)

    Program Director Lazar explained that, during the years 1988–1993, the Program received an opinion and subsequent clarification from the City Attorney’s office that (a) honorably discharged veterans who are unable to earn a living by manual labor are exempt from paying the street artist certificate fee; (b) such veterans are not exempt from following the street artist regulations; and (c) such veterans, while unable to earn a living by manual labor, could still qualify as street artists making handcrafted items. Thereupon the Arts Commission, on June 7, 1993, approved procedures, drafted by the City Attorney, for waiving the fee for such veterans in keeping with California Business and Professions Code Sections 16001 and 16001.5. At present, there are thirteen individuals in the Program whose fees have been waived.

    In preparation of today’s hearing, the Program Director had forwarded to the Commissioners most of the e-mail arguments he had received from various street artists for and against the procedures.

    In response to questions from the Commissioners, Mr. Lazar stated that the Program had not received additional information on the matter from the City Attorney since the time the Commission adopted the procedures.

    The Commissioners listened to a full and lengthy presentation of arguments and documents by Street Artist Bill Clark who objected to the procedures. Citing references to the California Business Code, various City Attorney opinions from 1976 through 1988, Merriam Webster’s 1996 Dictionary of Law, and a 1976 letter by former Arts Commission Director Martin Snipper, Mr. Clark objected on the following grounds: (a) state law provides an exemption only from a license or permit and therefore does not apply to the Arts Commission which issues a certificate, not a license or permit; (b) if a person does qualify for a fee exemption, it is the Board of Supervisors—not the Arts Commission—which should grant the exemption; and (c) the Arts Commission certifies handmade items which require manual labor for their production; therefore, a person who passes such certification proves that he can obtain a livelihood through manual labor, which thereby proves that he is not eligible for a fee waiver. Mr. Clark asked that the Commission request a written response from the City Attorney on his three points.

    To questions by Commissioner Lloyd, Mr. Clark stated that he did not feel he should have to pay a higher fee if the law was not being interpreted properly.

    To questions by Commissioner Cuellar, Mr. Clark stated that he had studied law, had written the original street artist ballot measure, and had helped establish a program for people to earn a livelihood by making handmade products by manual labor.

    In response to a question by Commissioner Lloyd, Program Director Lazar stated that it was his understanding that the City Attorney had previously responded to the issue of “manual labor” but had not addressed the issues, now raised by Mr. Clark, of a “legislative body” waiving the fee and the distinction between a “permit” and a “certificate” in the context of the veteran fee waiver procedures.

    Commissioner Lloyd called for further public comment.

    Street Artist Mike Hanley discussed California’s passage of a business and professions ethic code in 1954 which, he said, sought to help veterans whose injuries did not appear until years after service. Such veterans became unemployable because their workers’ compensation claim files with the State were being accessed by potential employers who then decided to not employ them. Many of Mr. Hanley’s own injuries did not present themselves until years after he had returned home. He became unemployable until he entered the Street Artists Program as a coin-jewelry cutter. Because term “manual labor” in state law referred to the type of labor which an honorably discharged veteran was doing prior to no longer being physically able to do it, his street artist fee was waived; state law, therefore, protected veterans who were injured in combat. Thanks to the Street Artists Program, he said, his wife and he were able to buy a home.

    Commissioner Lloyd thanked Mr. Hanley for his service and his comments.

    Street Artist Bob Clark stated that his brother and he were referring to the state’s Business Code Section 16001.5 on which the City Attorney made rulings and which contained reference to “manual labor.” Bob Clark stated further that the particular law on which the City Attorney made his rulings does not define "manual labor," as Mike Hanley says, as labor that a person was doing preceding their injury. It only says "manual labor", period.  Mr. Clark invited Mr. Hanley to submit the law to scrutiny, since the law that the City Attorney was clarifying does not include Mr. Hanley's definition of "manual labor". Secondly, he said that while the issue should be at the Board of Supervisors, the Board had designated the Arts Commission to hear street artist issues first before being addressed at the Board. This was why the Clarks brought the matter to the Commission.

    Street Artist John Thomey reiterated Mr. Hanley’s reference to state law’s definition of “manual labor.”

    Closing public comment, Commissioner Lloyd stated that, since the City Attorney had already advised on the matter, given the spirit of the law which the Commissioner felt was clear, and given the present situation of many veterans returning with devastating injuries, the Commission should continue granting waivers of fee for disabled veterans. The recourse for the Clarks would be to submit the issue to the Board of Supervisors.

    Commissioner Johnston stated that he did not intend to request a new City Attorney opinion, and that he found the arguments presented by the Clarks offensive to veterans, particularly to disabled veterans.

    Commissioner Lloyd thanked the Clarks for their input and asked that the Committee hear the next agenda item.

  4. Hearing and possible motion to approve a letter by the Arts Commission to the Port Commission requesting legal enforcement against all unlicensed street vendors on Port property (hearing requested by street artists)

    Program Director Lazar stated that this item was brought to the Committee at last September’s meeting by Street Artist Mike Addario. Mr. Lazar reviewed the locations of the street artist spaces on Jefferson Street and submitted photos taken by Mr. Addario of the daily activities of nearby unlicensed vendors. The photos showed oversized illegal displays—three to five times as large as the regulated street artist displays—interfering with pedestrian right-of-way.

    Mr. Lazar also submitted copies of a letter by Street Artist Kathleeen Hallinan with whom he had worked several years ago in requesting the Port’s approval of street artist spaces which would replace the unlicensed vendors with artists abiding by rules of safety and conduct. Port personnel, however, had sided with the Fisherman’s Wharf Merchants Association which had refused to tolerate the presence of street artists across from the shops. As a result, Port personnel had refused to calendar a hearing on the proposal.

    Mr. Lazar, echoing Ms. Hallinan’s letter, described how the aerosol fumes of unlicensed spray paint vendors on Jefferson Street had caused headaches in street artists in nearby legal spaces, and how the Public Health Department, when notified by Mr. Lazar, had determined that the distance of the spray paint vendors mitigated any air-quality problems for the street artists. Nevertheless, Mr. Lazar had repeatedly urged Port personnel to enforce the law against the unlicensed vendors.

    Commissioner Lloyd stated that the integrity of the Street Artists Program involved making sure that that people who are not licensed are not allowed to sell on the streets.

    Street Artist Michael Addario gave a presentation of maps of both the legal street artist locations and the locations of the unlicensed vendors on Port property. He presented photo enlargements of many unlicensed vendors. He submitted a June 6, 2006 memo by the Port regarding the adoption of an encroachment policy. He also submitted a June 28, 2006 letter to him from Miriam Saez of the Port’s real estate division regarding the policy. Mr. Addario felt that the Port in its view combined the street artists with the unlicensed vendors and wanted the artists to control the situation. If that were to be the case, Mr. Addario was requesting the Arts Commission to send a letter accepting such responsibility only if the Port granted spaces for street artists in the areas currently occupied by the unlicensed vendors.

    Commissioner Johnston maintained that the Arts Commission staff were not police officers, and that policing issues of Port property have been a problem for a long time. He felt that the Arts Commission should attempt to convince the Port that it would be wise to move street artists into the areas occupied by the unlicensed vendors; the presence of licensed street artists would be more of an effective deterrent than police officers on call. The Commissioner called for an appeal to the Port in the form of a letter or resolution.

    Director of Cultural Affairs Richard Newirth advised Mr. Lazar to speak with the Department of Environment about the spray paint vendors. He himself volunteered to telephone his colleagues in other cities to ascertain how they manage such problems.

    The Commissioners recommended that the Committee support the Program Director’s work by submitting a resolution to the full Commission calling the Port’s attention to the health and safety issues generated by the spray painters and other unlicensed vendors and requesting the Port to designate street artist spaces.

    There being no further public comment, Commissioner Lloyd adjourned the meeting at 4:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted:

Howard Lazar
Street Artists Program Director

June 18, 2007