City and County of San FranciscoSan Francisco Arts Commission

July 11, 2012

Street Artists Committee - July 11, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012
2:30 p.m.

25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70
San Francisco, CA 94102


Commissioner Chew, Chair, called the meeting to order at 2:36 p.m.

1. Roll Call
Commissioners Present:
Greg Chew, Chair
John Calloway
Jessica Silverman

Commissioners Absent: Amy Chuang

Staff present: Arts Commission Deputy Director Rebekah Krell, Street Artists Program Director Howard Lazar, Street Artists Program Assistant Alyssa Licouris

Commissioner Chew welcomed the Commissioners and Police Officer Reboli acting as the sergeant-at-arms.

2. Discussion. Street Artists Program Director’s Report.

Program Director Lazar reported on the following major accomplishments of Fiscal Year 11-12:

40th Anniversary Celebration: Mr. Lazar thanked the Commissioners, Director of Cultural Affairs DeCaigny, and Deputy Director Rebekah Krell for their participation in the event. He thanked Mr. DeCaigny for suggesting that the Arts Commission fund the event, and thanked artists Maria Hillius and Tad Sky for their participation on the Anniversary Committee and dealing with the set-up of the event. He reported that the event was joyous and the Program’s banners are located around town.

[The event garnered a feature article in the San Francisco Chronicle and an NBC feature which aired three times.]

Enforcement: Mr. Lazar stated that there has been a significant deterrent to violations due to Advisory Committee and Program Director presence in street artist areas: Advisory Committee members monitored 36 days (weekend and weekdays) of the year; Program Director monitored 69 days (weekday afternoons). Forty written warnings were issued by staff; 1 studio visit was conducted by Advisory Committee and staff; 14 hearings on violations were conducted by Street Artists Committee, resulting in 1 license revocation; 3 suspended licenses; and 2 denied licenses. There are 3 current cases being investigated as compared to 43 under investigation two years previously.

Licensing: 114 new artists licensed (or an average of 9 per month); 52 reinstated former license holders; 406 average number of artists licensed; 433 current number of artists in the Program.

Public Document and Information Requests / Sunshine Task Force Hearings: 97.5 hours spent by Program staff responding to public records/documents requests and Sunshine Task Force hearings. (Comparison: 227.5 hours spent during 2010-11.); 8 hearings of Sunshine Task Force during 2011-12. (Comparison: 12 hearings for 2010-11.)

Completion of Board of Supervisors “Survey of Costs of Compliance with City Sunshine Ordinance” for calendar year 2011: On the survey, Mr. Lazar reported fulfillment of 52 requests for public records/information, representing 117 work hours; preparation for and attendance of 28 Sunshine Task Force and committee hearings, representing 80 work hours; expense of $21,188 (legal fees, etc.) in order to comply with the Sunshine Ordinance and its Task Force – and, to offset all of this time and effort, receipt of a total of $34.60 in document copying fees.

Sunshine Ordinance Task Force Members: Number of members no longer retained on the Task Force: 7 members (including its chairperson) out of 10 members.

Accomplishments at Board of Supervisors: 3 Board of Supervisors’ resolutions passed which included 6-month designation of 6 spaces on Market Street, north side, Spear to Steuart streets; permanent re-designation of 22 spaces on Grant Avenue, O’Farrell to Sutter streets, exempted from yellow zone regulation; and 6-month designation of 2 spaces on Post Street, northwest corner, at Stockton Street.

Mobile Food Facilities: Program staff participated in a discussion called by Supervisor Scott Weiner regarding food vendors applying for permits throughout the City; Mr. Lazar expressed that some vendors were attempting to take away potential street artist spaces.

Commissioner Calloway asked if artists who do not have licenses try to set up in designated street artist spaces. Street Artist Tad Sky responded that they know each other well enough to know who doesn’t have a license but the hard part is figuring out what crafts each person is allowed to sell.

Commissioner Calloway suggested that staff create a map of the city that shows where all of the street artists spaces are located on the Program’s website (or as a hard copy map) to give people a scale of spaces throughout the City. Mr. Lazar mentioned that Program Assistant Alyssa Licouris had started a project similar to what Commissioner Calloway was suggesting.

Commissioner Chew agreed it was a great idea for a comprehensive map.

Program Director Lazar mentioned that the artists have lost over 100 viable spaces over the years due to construction, doorways, repainted curb zones, etc.

Commissioner Calloway reiterated that it would give the public a visual sense of the breadth of street artist locations of the Program.

Public Comment:
Street Artist Tad Sky thanked the Arts Commission for funding the event, the Commissioners for attending, and Commissioner Calloway for performing at the event. Mr. Sky shared that he thought the banners were not put up quick enough. He reported that for another occasion he had ordered banners which took two weeks to produce whereas the Arts Commission took six months. He said that it was important for the banners to be placed near the artists’ displays so the public could see that the celebration was occurring. He said they have been placed in different parts of the City instead. He acknowledged that AAA Banners was difficult to work with but said that the Arts Commission’s order for banners took too long and they weren’t as affective. He said that the banners cost half of the funding for the event. Aside from the banners, he said the celebration was great.

David Berbey of SFO Forecast/Wharf Outdoors, asked for the number of existing street artist spaces. Program Lazar responded that he needed to verify an accurate count.

Street Artist Maria Hillius stated that the number of spaces changes every month based on ongoing loss of spaces and replacement of spaces, therefore it is difficult to give an exact number.

4. Action. Hearing and possible motion to request Board of Supervisors for exemption of space “L-1”, on Leavenworth Street, west side, at Jefferson Street, from the 10’ entrance regulation (Section 2405 (c) (6)) and the 5’ distance-from-space regulation ((Section 2405 (c) (3)).

Program Director Lazar explained that spaces “L-1” and “L-2” were originally designated on a permanent basis in the 1970’s by the Board of Supervisors. Then, due to creation of an adjacent doorway in The Cannery, Mr. Lazar in 1989 sought and received Board of Supervisors redesignation of the 2 spaces with their exemption from the distance-from-doorway regulation. The redesignation was for one year where upon Mr. Lazar sought and received an additional year’s designation in 1990. The purpose of the one-year designation was to allow for an annual review by the Arts Commission, the artists, and The Cannery. Mr. Lazar stated that after the spaces terminated for the second time (February 1991), he forgot about seeking their redesignation and they have not been reviewed since that time. However many street artists have been selling in the spaces for the last 21 years and he has not heard of any problems dealing with either the public’s safety or any complaints from the succession of stores adjacent to the spaces.

The current store at the site owned by Mr. David Berbey expanded the doorway on Leavenworth Street to 8 feet and it has another doorway on its Jefferson Street side. Mr. Lazar stated his observation that, most of the store’s traffic goes in through the Jefferson doorway. He said he met with Mr. Berbey and had asked that the spaces be redesignated subject to the distance-from-doorway regulation. But Mr. Berbey had rejected the request.

Commissioner Calloway asked why item #4 was moved up. Mr. Lazar responded that if the artists were going to lose “L-1” and “L-2”, they wanted to replace them on Jefferson Street side with redesignation of former space “J-9” at the corner. He further reported that he and artists had met with Mr. Berbey and Ms. Rebecca Delgado of The Cannery who said they didn’t want the old space “J-9” to be redesignated because it blocked the window of Mr. Berbey’s store. Street artists said they would relinquish their proposed space on Jefferson Street if they could keep the two Leavenworth Street spaces.

Mr. David Berbey, Wharf Outdoors business owner, presented his “exhibit 4” to the Commissioners which showed a photograph of the spaces and his doorway on Leavenworth Street. He said that the doorway was expanded 3 months ago and at the time he approached the artists he didn’t realize that the spaces were not designated.

Mr. Lazar clarified that he had not discovered his error of not seeking redesignation until after his meeting with Mr. Berbey.

Mr. Berbey said he wanted to find a solution since this situation has been going on since April. Mr. Berbey reported that during fourth of July weekend, his doorways were blocked by street artists and it affected his business. He reported that the doorway expansion costed $65,000, and that two entrances are important. He said that there are 8 other street artists spaces down Leavenworth Street and that he thinks spaces “L-3” and “L-4” could be activated. Mr. Berbey said the corner spaces block doorways and are hazardous.

Commissioner Silverman asked why there was a space between “L-5” and “L-6”. Street Artist Brian Hopper responded that there used to be an adjacent entrance which is no longer there. Commissioner Silverman said she feels empathy for the business owner since she is a business owner herself.

Mr. Berbey noted that “L-1” and “L-2” are out of compliance so there should be no discussion about them.

Mr. Lazar reiterated that he had obtained Board of Supervisors’ redesignation of the two spaces subject to exemptions twice before and that prior to this the spaces has been permanently designated in the 1970s.

Commission Calloway asked for further clarification of the history of “L-1” and “L-2” which Mr. Lazar provided.

Public Comment:
Street Artist Drew Flores stated that he has been in the program for over 20 years and that previous business owners in the store occupied by Mr. Berbey’s store had thriving businesses. He said that he doesn’t believe that getting rid of street artists will help Mr. Berbey’s business thrive, and that the street artists have always coexisted with business owners. He noted that getting rid of “L-1” and “L-2” will “be the end of us”. He said that Street Artist Brian Hopper has worked in those spaces for 30 years and the artists are able to watch the traffic. He reported that people who block the door aren’t street artists’ customers but they are customers of Mr. Berbey’s store waiting to go inside or they are just people waiting around. He said that Mr. Berbey had been receptive to having a street artist space around the corner on Jefferson Street before he talked to his partners.

Mr. Flores answered Commissioner Calloway’s and Commissioner Chew’s questions by stating that he likes to sell in “L-1” when he has the chance and that all the artists who use “L-1” are portrait artists.

Mr. Berbey said he has empathy for the program but he explained that having his new doorway blocked by crowds has created a negative impact on his business’ sales.

Commissioner Chew commented that many of the street artists spaces are located in other congested areas like Downtown.

Mr. Berbey said he spoke for Ms. Rebecca Delgado who represents The Cannery since she had to leave the meeting.

Street Artist Tad Sky said he understood the business owner’s point of view but there is a precedent of the existence of street artist spaces for 40 years. He explained that street artists like the Leavenworth Street spaces because it is less windy than other areas and because there is foot traffic. He said that customers will more likely walk down the block if an artist is set up on the corner. He said he used to sell in “J-9” and observed that customers will go into a store or stop at a booth if they’re interested. He explained that the street artists are not in competition with the store business since they sell different items. He noted that congestion is everywhere in the city and business fluctuates regardless. He said that they’ve lost spaces all over the city and that it’s important to keep the valuable spaces.

Commissioner Calloway suggested keeping “L-2” since the Leavenworth Street spaces have been used for 40 years.

Mr. Berbey disagreed with the proposal. He said he has been allowing street artists to set up in “L-2”. He reminded Commissioners that they should not be having this discussion because the spaces do not exist. He told the Commissioners that they should be careful how they handle the situation.

Mr. Lazar stated that it was highly proper for this discussion to take place. He reported that the Board of Supervisors has granted spaces that previously had existed with exemptions. He clarified that the artists moved “L-1” closer to “L-2” by about 2 feet. He said “L-2” is on opposite side of a tree trunk.

The Committee clarified that the motion would be to redesignate “L-2” which is on the opposite side of the tree.

Street Artist Brian Hopper asked why Mr. Berbey didn’t put his doorway 30 feet down the street if he thought spaces “L-5” and “L-6” were viable. He stated that traffic moves down Jefferson Street and not Leavenworth Street. He said that only a select number of spaces are viable, for example, only 10 out of 50 Hallidie Plaza spaces are viable. He said he works at the Wharf and that the other Leavenworth Street spaces are not viable.

Mr. Flores stated that Mr. Berbey had said he was okay with moving the artists into the space on Jefferson Street where former space “J-9” had been located since it would be a good replacement for “L-1”.

Commissioner Chew discussed a compromise of saving “L-2” while losing “L-1”.

Mr. Hopper said “L-2” is 10 feet from the corner of Jefferson Street at Leavenworth Street. He clarified that the artists had moved 5 feet out of “L-1” since March 1.

Mr. Hopper responded to Commissioner Calloway’s question by stating that “L-3” and “L-4” are only viable when “L-1” triggers foot traffic up the street.

Drew Flores agreed and said “L-1” works as a lure.

Maria Hillius stated that stores come and go all the time at that location. Because of this, she asked that there be future considerations of restoring both “L-1” and “L-2”.

Mr. Berbey said stores don’t survive because the rent is very expensive.

Commissioner Chew explained that the bike rentals existed on the street even amidst all of the pedestrian traffic.

Commissioner Calloway suggested exempting “L-1” and “L-2” for 6 months.

Commissioner Silverman suggested exempting “L-2”.

Mr. Berbey said he’s willing to accept “L-2” even though it is still out of compliance.

Mr. Lazar clarified that the vote needed to be unanimous for a motion to pass through the Committee since only three Commissioners were present.

Commissioner Calloway said he would push for spaces on Jefferson Street if they voted for exempting “L-2” only.

Mr. Hopper stated that if “L-1” is not there, the rest of the street would be greatly affected. He’s been working for 30 years at that location.

Motion: Motion to request Board of Supervisors to redesignate for six (6) months of space “L-2”, on Leavenworth Street, west side, at Jefferson Street, from the 10’ distance-from-doorway regulation (Section 2405 (c) (6)).

Moved: Silverman, Chew

Commissioner Chew called for public comment. There was no public comment.

The motion was unanimously approved.

3. Action. Hearing and possible motion to request Board of Supervisors for designation of six (6) months of two (2) street artist selling space on Jefferson Street, south side, Leavenworth to Hyde Streets. (continued from May 9, 2012 Street Artists Program Committee meeting).

Mr. David Berbey of SFO Forecast/Wharf Outdoors presented photos to the Committee.

Program Director Howard Lazar read a statement from Street Artist Michael Rosenthal #4683, who sells caricatures, which supported a proposal to move “L-1” and “L-2” to Jefferson Street.

Public Comment:
Mr. David Berbey of SFO Forecast/Wharf Outdoors said he originally suggested the spaces but said that the landlord of The Cannery had the final say and the landlord had legitimate safety concerns for the proximity of the spaces to the fire doors. He reported that the landlord will be turning the building into a school so they are even more concerned with the fire safety rules. He said that the other issue he had himself is that the spaces will encroach into the sidewalk and there will be a large number of pedestrians which will add to the obstructions that are already there. He said he wanted to support the artists as a business owner.

Commissioner Chew commented that he didn’t see any activity from the doorway. He reported that the Academy of Art University is owned by Stevens group.

Mr. Lazar suggested that, based on Mr. Berbey’s comments about the fire doors on Jefferson Street, he suggested that a compromise could be that the Arts Commission approve one space closer to the corner where old “J-9” had been located. He said it would be placed opposite the store’s window and curb side. He further stated that the space would need a distance-from-doorway exemption but that it would solve the issue of concern over any space being close to the fire door concern. He explained that “J-9” had been eradicated many years ago because of the creation of a doorway.

Mr. Berbey clarified with Mr. Lazar that he meant the corner location, and he then said he did not agree with this suggestion since the location would be more detrimental to his business.

Street Artist Maria Hillius reminded the Commissioners that originally Mr. Berbey had not been against having a street artist space on Jefferson Street. She asked that the Commissioners move this motion forward so that the Academy of Art University could come to the Board of Supervisors to express their concern and ideas.

Mr. Berbey said he didn’t object at first because he didn’t realize it was a fire hazard.

Mr. Lazar agreed with Ms. Hillius’ comment since the Board of Supervisors have the final decision in this matter.

Mr. Lazar showed the Commissioners on the map where “J-9” used to exist. He noted that an exemption would still be needed for the distance from doorway regulation.

Mr. Berbey asked Mr. Lazar why “J-9” was eradicated, to which Mr. Lazar replied that the door was expanded. Mr. Berbey stated that things have changed. He said that the other problem is that there must be clearance of 7 feet from the edge of the ADA ramp that is located on the corner.

Mr. Lazar said that he wanted more time to check on the ADA regulations.

Commissioner Chew clarified for Mr. Berbey that the proposed space would be in the location of the old “J-9” space.

Mr. Berbey expressed his concerns that the space would be in his doorway, window, storefront and in the main thoroughfare.

Commissioner Chew called Mr. Berbey out of order.

Motion: Motion to request Board of Supervisors for designation of six (6) months of one (1) street artist selling space on Jefferson Street, south side, corner of Leavenworth Street subject to compliance with ADA regulations.
Moved: Calloway, Silverman

Public Comment:
Mr. Berbey expressed that at the “11th hour”, the Commissioners changed the location which had not been brought up and that it would be impeding his doorway to a greater degree. He further expressed that the decision was not fair. He wanted it clarified that street artists would not set up in this space until it goes to the Board of Supervisors.

Commissioner Chew confirmed the motion was not made at the “11th hour”.

Mr. Lazar clarified that the item was continued from the Street Artists Program Committee’s previous meeting.

Street Artist William Clark stated that he was a street artist since 1972 and that the voters of San Francisco passed Proposition “L” which said that street artists may have spaces designated in or on the sidewalk subject to the Board of Supervisors’ approval. He agreed with Ms. Hillius’ statement and stated that The Cannery and Mr. Berbey should speak at the Board of Supervisors since the Board makes the final decision. He urged the Commissioners to pass the item to the Board of Supervisors.

The motion was unanimously approved.

5. Action. Hearing and possible motion to approve re-issuance of former certificate number (#5700) to street artist Jonovan (currently #8594).

No motion taken. The item will be put on the full Arts Commission meeting agenda under the Committee report.

6. Discussion. Public Comment.

Street Artist Tad Sky stated that he liked the idea of a comprehensive map of the street artists spaces. He said Commissioners could go and see the street artist spaces when they’re around town.

There was no further public comment.

7. Discussion. New Business and Announcements.

There was no further new business or announcements.

There was no public comment.

8. Action. Adjournment.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:20 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by:
Alyssa Licouris, Street Artists Program Assistant

Minutes approved by:
Howard Lazar, Street Artists Program Director

ADL 7/24/12

Additional Explanatory documents submitted by the public at the meeting: Item #3: Exhibit 4 (photo) submitted by David Berbey.

An audio recording of this meeting is available online at the following address: