City and County of San FranciscoSan Francisco Arts Commission

February 22, 2012

Street Artists Committee - February 22, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012
3:00 p.m.
25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 330A
San Francisco, CA 94102


Commissioner Chew, Chair, called the meeting to order at 3:05 p.m.

He introduced new Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny.

1. Roll Call
Commissioners Present:
Greg Chew, Chair
John Calloway
Amy Chuang

Commissioners Absent:
Jessica Silverman

Staff present: Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny, Street Artists Program Director Howard Lazar, Street Artists Program Assistant Alyssa Licouris

Program Director Lazar recommended that Jian Liang Zhao’s hearing be moved up on the agenda as the first item since Mr. Zhao had to leave at 4 p.m. for a hospital medical appointment. Mr. Lazar reported that Mr. Zhao’s son had come to the office around noon time and said that they had not received the letters regarding the hearing since they moved. His son presented a DMV card stamped June 11, 2011 with their new address. Mr. Lazar recommended that, out of respect for witnesses in attendance, the Commissioners should hear witness testimony and then decide if the Commissioners want to proceed or, if Mr. Zhao would not be prepared for the hearing, to continue the hearing. Mr. Lazar stated that an interpreter was provided by the Street Artists Program for Mr. Zhao.

Commissioner Chew moved the item up.

4. Action. Hearing and possible motion to approve Program Director’s recommendation of denial of certificate or renewal of the following certificate-holder for 1) Violation of Lottery Procedure (Allegedly tampering with another street artist’s lottery slip and taking their space); 2) Failing to maintain a pedestrian passageway of eight (8) feet for pedestrians (Ord. 41-83, Section 2405(c)(16) ); 3) Conducting business in an improper manner (Overcharging and misleading customers on prices); 4) Exceeding display size regulations:

Jian Liang Zhao – Certificate #7298

Program Director Howard Lazar presented the case against Mr. Zhao including acknowledging written statements from witnesses as well as names of witnesses who were notified. From the written statements with respect to violation #1, Mr. Lazar pointed out as evidence the picture of the lottery slip. He described the lottery procedure and explained that Mr. Zhao wrote over Manuel Loli’s slip and took Mr. Loli’s space 13. Mr. Lazar stated that this was a violation of the lottery procedure as well as being unethical. He read an excerpt from the complaint.

With regard to violations #2 and #4, Mr. Lazar reminded the Commissioners of the street artist space regulations. According to witness statements, Mr. Lazar said Mr. Zhao put his chair in the pedestrian walkway and that Mr. Zhao’s display was much wider and taller than the required dimensions. Witness statements from November 17 stated that Mr. Zhao’s display was oversized, September 28 statements stated that Mr. Zhao’s display was oversized and impeding the 8 foot pedestrian walkway rule, and November 16 statements described Mr. Zhao’s chair in the middle of the sidewalk impeding the 8 foot pedestrian walkway rule.

With regard to violation #3, Mr. Lazar read aloud a witness statement referring to incidents on October 16 and September 21 where Mr. Zhao overcharged and misled customers on prices of his portraits.

Mr. Lazar reminded Commissioners that on Sept 8, 2010, the Street Artists Program Committee found Mr. Zhao in violation for soliciting business away from other artists, and he received a 30-day suspension of his certificate. Mr. Lazar further stated that Mr. Zhao had a public hearing with Mr. Lazar as hearing officer in 2008 and Mr. Zhao signed a statement agreeing to follow all rules and regulations including the lottery procedures of the Street Artists Program.

Mr. Lazar recommended that, due to Mr. Zhao’s history of a suspension and the four types of violations he allegedly committed, renewal of his certificate be denied.

Mr. Lazar was permitted to call for witness testimony.

Mr. Robert Chan said he was called by other street artists at noon time on October 28, 2011 to observe that Mr. Zhao changed the number on the lottery slip to 13. Since Mr. Chan is a lottery committee member, he asked Mr. Zhao to move back to space 12. He added that Mr. Zhao’s display is on many occasions oversized, as big as 4 feet by 8 feet. Mr. Chan took the photo of the lottery slip and submitted it with photos he took of Mr. Zhao’s oversized display as evidence.

Mr. Lazar told the Commissioners that because Mr. Zhao’s display consists of panels, it cuts off the public’s view of artists next to Mr. Zhao.

Called as a witness, Mr. Michael Addario stated that he had no vivid recollection of the incident and requested to speak under public comment.

Ms. Catherine Zhang stated that the photograph was good evidence to show that Mr. Zhao broke a rule. When she runs the lottery, she said, she has told Mr. Zhao many times that he’s oversized or over the line.

Mr. Lazar explained that “over the line” means that the artists all try to stay behind an imaginary line so that no display sticks out more than the others. Ms. Zhang noted that Mr. Zhao goes over the line frequently.

Ms. Zhang said that many street artists have heard Mr. Zhao say that he doesn’t care if he gets punished because he’ll take a vacation if he’s suspended.

Commissioner Calloway clarified that Ms. Zhang took one of the pictures submitted as evidence but she was also testifying about other times when Mr. Zhao’s display was oversized.

Mr. Zhao apologized. He stated he has been under poor health and under stress. He admitted that there were a lot of areas for which he asked the Commissioner’s understanding. He explained that he didn’t want to be in space 10 because that artist did the same artwork so he wanted space 13 instead since the artist originally in space 12 sells pipes. Mr. Zhao wanted the Commissioners to know that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Mr. Zhao responded to multiple questions by Mr. Lazar relating to his alleged violations. Mr. Zhao admitted to altering the lottery slip. Mr. Zhao stated that the height of his display wasn’t an issue.

Commissioner Chew stated that because Mr. Zhao has four alleged violations observed by a number of witnesses, the Commissioner wished to proceed with the hearing.

Commissioner Calloway asked Mr. Lazar how he knew Mr. Zhao didn’t receive the letters mailed to him. Mr. Lazar responded that the notices had been sent to the only address on file. Mr. Zhao said a friend had told him about the hearing today. Mr. Lazar clarified that none of the mail sent to Mr. Zhao had been returned. Mr. Zhao said he told the post office of his address change.

Commissioner Calloway clarified that Mr. Chan was in charge of checking the spaces.

Commissioner Chew stated that the Program staff had made many efforts to send Mr. Zhao notification.

Commissioner Chuang agreed that all the evidence showed Mr. Zhao was in violation but there was a question of how long to suspend Mr. Zhao’s certificate.

Motion: Motion to find Mr. Zhao in violation of all four alleged violations.
Moved: Calloway/Chuang.

Public Comment:
Mr. Michael Addario read an excerpt from the November 30 minutes of Street Artist Program Committee regarding prosecution regulations. He said Mr. Zhao was deprived of a packet in Chinese of the documents for review by the Commissioners. Mr. Addario stated that Mr. Lazar was under referral to the District Attorney for withholding documents under the Sunshine Ordinance and stated that this impeached Mr. Lazar’s credibility as a prosecutor. Mr. Addario stated that it was prejudicial to bring up Mr. Zhao’s previous complaint. He continued by stating how the case would not stand up against the Board of Appeals and that Mr. Zhao’s case was a waste of time.

The motion was unanimously approved.

Mr. Lazar said that Mr. Zhao’s certificate was valid until March 17th.

Mr. Zhao demanded that they give him “an opportunity”. He admitted there were acts he didn’t do well.

Commissioner Chew stated that Mr. Zhao had not complied with the law.

Commissioner Chuang spoke to Mr. Zhao in Chinese, and the interpreter translated the Commissioner’s speech into English.

Mr. Lazar clarified that Mr. Zhao would be expected to renew his license during its suspension, but he could not sell during that time.

Motion: Motion to suspend the certificate of Mr. Zhao for 6 months.
Moved: Calloway/Chuang.

Public Comment:
Catherine Zhang endorsed the suspension.

The motion was unanimously passed.

Mr. Lazar clarified the suspension process for Mr. Zhao, as well as the filing period for a hearing with the Board of Appeals.

3. Action. Hearing and possible motion to approve Program Director’s recommendation of denial of certificate or renewal of the following certificate-holder for allegedly selling commercially manufactured metal and glass pipes, constituting the following alleged violation: Displaying items not of the artist’s own creation:

Juan Manuel Alvarez (formerly, Juan Couselo-Alvarez) – Certificate #7844

Program Director Lazar noted there was an interpreter provided by the Street Artists Program for Mr. Alvarez. Mr. Lazar presented the history of Mr. Alvarez’s case and stated that on July 20, Mr. Alvarez was observed selling commercially manufactured metal pipes and glass pipes which should be considered a serious violation since he was allegedly selling items he didn’t make, thus threatening the integrity of the Street Artists Program. Mr. Lazar described two previous warnings received by Mr. Alvarez for selling similar items on January 27, 2011 and July 29, 2009. Mr. Lazar noted that both warnings were for violations Mr. Alvarez committed during important holiday seasons. Photocopies of the pipes sold on July 29, 2009 were sent to the Commissioners. Mr. Lazar presented photos of the July 20 incident that showed metal pipes and glass pipes that Mr. Alvarez was selling.

Mr. Lazar noted that Mr. Alvarez was licensed for pipes but that he wasn’t licensed for the pipes shown in the photos.

From Commissioner Calloway’s question, Mr. Lazar clarified that Mr. Alvarez was selling items that were not approved by the Arts Commission.

Mr. Lazar recommended that, due to the serious nature of the violation along with the two previous warnings, Mr. Alvarez’s certificate not be renewed.

Advisory Committee Member Josie Grant was called by Mr. Lazar to testify. Ms. Grant stated that she took the photos during monitoring for July 20, 2011 with Member Susan Tibbon. Ms. Grant said she had seen the same pipes during December on Market Street. Ms. Grant clarified that the anodized metal are manufactured and that Mr. Alvarez never presented them as a craft he created. He had been given permission to sell glass pipes as long as he added handcrafted clay material around each pipe. Ms. Grant explained that Mr. Alvarez uses glass forms and metal forms as the center of the pipe while creating an elaborate design around it.

Mr. Lazar presented photos to the Commissioners of Mr. Alvarez’s previous screenings which showed an example of the elaborate work Ms. Grant spoke about.

Commissioner Calloway asked for clarification of the screening process when an artist creates a new design. Mr. Lazar answered that a relatively minor degree of derivation of the original design could be allowed but if it looks radically different, the artist would be asked to screen the item.

Ms. Grant testified that Mr. Alvarez was trying to cover up his display when the Advisory Committee members were out monitoring.

Commissioner Chew asked Mr. Lazar to give the Commissioners more information about the two previous warnings. Mr. Lazar read from the monitoring reports of December 21, 2010 and July 18, 2009. He read an excerpt from the July 18, 2009 monitoring by previous Committee member Mat Porkola regarding items which, according to the report, Mr. Alvarez “made no claim to making”.

Mr. Alvarez was called to respond to the alleged violations. Mr. Alvarez stated that many people said that resin is toxic and that he was persistent to obtain the license after Mr. Lazar had denied it. After 3 weeks, he called to tell Mr. Alvarez that the license had been approved. He stated that his English is his problem and not the Street Artists Program. He stated he’s been discriminated against in the warnings. According to his 2009 warning, they told him to come to a screening but he sent a letter for Mr. Lazar to sign that his art is decorating the pipes, and he apologized for not having the resin since he had to get the resin from Sacramento. He told the Commissioners that the inspectors only gave him a warning while they didn’t give the other artists warnings who were in illegal spaces next to him. For the second warning in December 2010, he stated that the report is wrong in saying that 1/3 of his table was covered by illegal pipes and described that there were only a few pieces although he doesn’t deny them being there. In response to the last warning, he had already covered his table to go to the bathroom and they missed giving someone a warning next to him who was in an illegal space.

Commissioner Calloway responded that it did not matter whether it was 1/3 of the display or less; what mattered was that Mr. Alvarez was caught selling pieces that were not authorized by the Advisory Committee and that he has no right to sell items that have not been approved even if Mr. Lazar or the Committee weren’t able to meet with him.

Mr. Alvarez stated that the Committee members didn’t take pictures of the pipes that had the resin.

Commissioner Calloway asked to see the photo of 2009 and clarified with Mr. Alvarez that he was not allowed to sell the articles depicted.

Motion: Motion to find Mr. Alvarez in violation of selling merchandise that was not approved by the Advisory Committee.
Moved: Calloway/Chuang.

Public Comment:
Ms. Grant reiterated that the anodized metal, glass pipes and other metal pipes were not approved.

Mr. Alvarez said that he just didn’t have the resin as he was working.

The motion was passed unanimously.

Mr. Lazar clarified for Commissioner Calloway that Mr. Alvarez’s certificate expires on April 6.

Motion: Motion to suspend Mr. Alvarez for 30 days.
Moved: Calloway/Chuang.

Commissioner Chew asked for public comment; there was none.

The motion was passed unanimously.

Mr. Lazar clarified the suspension process for Mr. Alvarez.

7. Action. Hearing and possible motion to approve plans for celebration of 40th anniversary of Street Artists Program.

Mr. Lazar asked that item #7 be taken since part of the Anniversary Ad Hoc Committee was present to discuss the 40th anniversary of the Street Artists Program. The Commissioners were sent copies of the notes taken at a May 23, 2011 Ad Hoc Committee meeting. Mr. Lazar asked Mr. Tad Sky to make a presentation about the proposal.

Mr. Tad Sky presented the Commissioners with the 40th anniversary proposal. He stated that June 30, 2012 has been approved by Recreation and Park for the celebration. The Committee wants banners put up to announce the celebration. The wish list/budget was also presented and discussed. Mr. Sky has researched costs for this year’s celebration which total around $10,000. Mr. Sky asked for help from the Arts Commission to fund this celebration. He said former Arts Commission Director of Cultural Affairs Luis Cancel had been previously interested in synchronizing the 80th anniversary with the 40th anniversary of the Street Artists Program.

Commissioner Calloway agreed to donate his musical services at the event if he is available.

Mr. Sky talked about having bands as well as speakers such as Mayor Lee, Director of Cultural Affairs DeCaigny and Program Director Lazar. For the banners, Mr. Sky would like to see ten banners placed around Justin Herman Plaza, Fisherman’s Wharf and Hallidie Plaza for one year.

Commissioner Calloway asked about the proposed $4,500 budget for banners. Mr. Sky responded that he was quoted by AAA Flag and Banner that it would be $4,500 for printing, getting permits, putting up and taking down the banners. Mr. Sky submitted a banner design that he had created.

Mr. Sky explained that three to four people were on the Ad Hoc Committee. Commissioner Calloway said he appreciated their hard work and wanted to make sure all street artists are aware of the event. Mr. Sky responded by saying he’s been announcing it to the artists for about two years and also announcing the opportunity to participate on the Ad Hoc Committee.

Commissioner Chew asked about media outreach to which Mr. Sky briefly explained that the Ad Hoc Committee envisioned the printing of an educational brochure about the Street Artists Program.

Mr. Sky asked the Commissioners to advocate at the full Arts Commission to get funding.

Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny said staff has have been rethinking the 80th anniversary since budget cuts have occurred, but he was open to considering joining the two events.

Commissioner Chew requested Mr. Lazar’s input into the planning process.

Public Comment:
Mr. Z.B Doroskieviez described his work with City Guide for Justin Herman Plaza. He said he designed an ad for the guide as well as printed cards and collected money for these from other street artists. He was interested in also putting an image he created onto plastic/canvas bags as part of the 40th celebration.

Commissioner Calloway liked the idea of the banners and said that consideration should be given to putting them up as soon as possible. He said it was a form of inexpensive advertising.

Mr. Michael Addario stated that he liked the idea of promoting the street artists but that Tad Sky had said originally it wouldn’t cost the street artists anything. Mr. Addario said the ordinance says only to use street artists money for administration and enforcement; not for promoting. Mr. Addario urged Mr. Sky to get the money first but said that it was too late for the planning process; it should have been done last year. He talked about the Arts Commission’s mismanaged money and embezzlement and stated that he wanted his money back for being overcharged. He stated that the artists aren’t making a lot of money.

Tad Sky noted that the total cost of the banner service was only $4,539, a part of the projected $10,000 budget for the event.

Committee Discussion:
Mr. DeCaigny clarified what was proposed was that the event’s funding be outside of the Street Artists Program budget, and that his understanding was that the funding was being requested from the general administrative fund of the Arts Commission.

Commissioner Calloway proposed other methods of documentation.

There was discussion about finding private sources for funding or a way to find quick funding.

Mr. Lazar clarified the costs of the Program’s 25th anniversary (1997).

No motion was taken.

8. Action. Hearing and possible motion to authorize Program Director to request Board of Supervisors for temporary designation of six (6) street artist selling spaces on Market Street, north side, at Spear Street.

Program Director Lazar presented a history of the current spaces on Market Street between Drumm and Spear streets. He said that he would ask the Board of Supervisors for the proposed six new spaces to be temporary. He recommended these additional spaces and presented a map showing them.

Mr. Sky submitted a map of a bird’s eye view of the proposed spaces in relation to the current “Café” spaces and “BART” spaces on the same sidewalk.

Motion: Motion to authorize the Program Director to request the Board of Supervisors for temporary designation of six (6) street artist selling spaces on Market Street, north side, at Spear Street.
Moved: Calloway/Chuang.

Public Comment:
Street Artist Michael Addario stated that he was surprised at how fast this item moved along since he’s been waiting for Mr. Lazar to get spaces at the Port since October 2010. He said Mr. Lazar was directed to get additional spaces for the Wharf which he hasn’t done yet. Mr. Addario explained that spaces will be lost at the Wharf due to construction, and that it’s the Committee’s responsibility to follow up on Mr. Lazar since Mr. Addario is paying for his salary, or else there would be legal repercussions. He said street artists are already selling in the proposed spaces of Market Street while spaces that they need are being ignored. He urged Commissioners to get Port spaces and hold off on the proposed Market Street spaces.

Mr. Tad Sky urged to pass this motion especially since approval of the spaces was within reach. He reported that street artists as well as Mr. Addario himself have already been using the proposed spaces; they like them and sell there regularly. He said there was no conflict with merchants and no competing stores. He stated also that if street artists don’t sell there, illegal sellers will take the spaces instead.

The motion was unanimously approved.

Commissioner Calloway proposed that the time be changed for the future meetings of the Committee meeting to better accommodate the work schedules of the Commissioners.

Commissioner Calloway left the meeting at 5 p.m.

9. Discussion. Public Comment.

There was no public comment.

12. Action. Adjournment.

The meeting was adjourned by Commissioner Chew at 5:04 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by:
Alyssa Licouris, Street Artists Program Assistant

Minutes approved by:
Howard Lazar, Street Artists Program Director

ADL 3/2/12

Explanatory documents submitted by the public at the meeting: Item #7: 40th Anniversary Proposed Budget by Tad Sky, 40th Anniversary Proposed Banner by Tad Sky, Proposed Advertisement by Z.B. Doroszkiewicz; Item #8: Bird's Eye View Map of Proposed Spaces by Tad Sky.