July 10, 2013
STREET ARTISTS COMMITTEE
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70
San Francisco, CA 94102
Commissioner Chew, Chair, called the meeting to order at 2:32 p.m.
1. Roll Call
Greg Chew, Chair
Commissioners Absent: Marcus Shelby
Staff present: Arts Commission Deputy Director Rebekah Krell, Street Artists Program Director Howard Lazar, Street Artists Program Assistant Alyssa Licouris
Commissioner Chew welcomed new Commissioners Shiota, Schnair and Frankel to the Commission and welcomed Officer Patrick Robinson (as sergeant-at-arms). He thanked former Commissioners Calloway and Chuang for their service on the Committee.
2. Discussion. Street Artists Program Director’s Report.
Program Director Lazar reported on the following highlights of fiscal year 2012-13:
Spaces at the Port: The street artists regained their 9 Jefferson Street spaces when the street’s re-construction was completed. The artists were given 4 temporary spaces in the interim. The new Jefferson Street sidewalk has a low wall dividing it lengthwise and the Port requested that the artists’ spaces be against a wall opposite to the low wall. But Mr. Lazar observed that most pedestrians walk on the sidewalk between the low wall and the curb which results in a 70-80% loss of business for the artists. He said he will talk to Port personnel about a possible solution.
Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Crafts Examiners: The Committee now is a full 5 member committee. He also reported that the Committee has begun meetings to re-examine the existing screening criteria.
Crochet Hat Studio Visits: The Advisory Committee has completed three studio visits with a fourth visit scheduled. He said that there would possibly be 10 more. The purpose of the visits is to verify that the artists who are selling the crochet animal hats are making them.
Artists’ successes: Kathy Hallinan saved 21 trees and a species of butterflies on Jefferson Street; Sandy Geuss was chosen to have his artwork featured on a smartcar showcased at Justin Herman Plaza; Amos Goldbaum was featured on Scoutmob Shoppe; Off The Grid food trucks were featured at Justin Herman Plaza for 8 weeks during the winter, bringing the artists many customers; select street artists have been featured at the Grand Hyatt hotel.
Board of Supervisors: Mr. Lazar presented to the Board of Supervisors and obtained for the artists 5 permanent Saturday use spaces on Market Street at Spear Street, 1 temporary space on Leavenworth Street; 2 temporary spaces on Post Street at Stockton Street; and 6 permanent spaces on Market Street between Spear and Steuart streets.
Newsletter to highlight artists: The Arts Commission’s Director of Communications has requested that a street artist be highlighted each month in the agency newsletter; Program Assistant Licouris notified the street artists, and thus far 3 responses have been received.
Commissioner Chew commented that this was upbeat news. He noted that the new book about the Arts Commission includes the Street Artists Program.
Street Artist Michael Addario stated that the program is self-funded and receives relatively no money from the City. Referring to a letter forwarded to the Program to all the street artists on June 10, Mr. Addario said the letter was originally sent to David Berby, Fisherman Wharf’s CBD president, from allegedly another artist. He said that the letter spoke about many allegations of issues like crochet hats, people using bathrooms, and artists overcharging. He said that Rip Malloy of the Port sent it to Program Director Lazar and Program Director Lazar sent it to the artists. Mr. Addario emailed Mr. Malloy to ask if Program Director Lazar had responded and Mr. Malloy said he has not yet received a response.
3. Action. Hearing and possible motion to approve Program Director’s recommendation of denial of certificate or renewal of the following certificate-holder for conducting business in an improper, hazardous manner: 1) parking of car on Justin Herman Plaza; 2) refusing to move car when requested by Recreation and Parks ranger; 3) aggressively confronting the park ranger by tearing up traffic violation ticket and throwing it at him:
John Cage – Certificate #8592
Program Director Lazar described the procedures regarding a violation hearing.
Program Director Lazar explained that he was notified by the street artist Market Manager of Justin Herman Plaza that he gave Mr. Cage a verbal warning on December 15, 2012 about parking on the Plaza. Program Director Lazar continued to explain that Mr. Cage was also issued a written warning by the Arts Commission in January, 2013, for parking on the Plaza for almost 2 hours.
He explained that the park ranger of the Recreation and Parks Department has been very generous about allowing the artists’ temporary loading and unloading of their vehicles on the Plaza.
Program Director Lazar described his understanding of the June 19 incident of Mr. Cage allegedly conducting business in improper hazardous manner. He stated that the park ranger asked Mr. Cage to move his car since he was parked there for a good amount of time. Mr. Cage refused to move and he tore up the ticket that had been issued to him by the ranger. Program Director Lazar stated that this behavior was not a good representation of the program. He continued that the issue was brought to the Committee because Mr. Cage had already been given a warning, and that this type of aggression is a threat to the integrity of the program.
Commissioner Chew confirmed that Mr. Cage was present.
Program Director Lazar asked Park Ranger Marcus Santiago, who stated that he is very familiar with the street artists at the Plaza, to explain the incident in his own words. Mr. Santiago explained that he arrived at Justin Herman Plaza for a meeting and saw a car with its tailgate open parked on the plaza. He explained that he waited for about 15 to 20 minutes and there was no movement so he issued a citation. He said that while he was in his meeting, Mr. Cage approached him. Mr. Santiago told Mr. Cage that he would be with him to address the issue after his meeting. He said that Mr. Cage waited a few feet away, got upset, ripped up the ticket, threw it at him, and told him he could give him a citation for littering. Mr. Santiago said that he thought it was best to leave the issue alone and let Market Manager John Tunui handle the situation.
Mr. Santiago clarified that the car was parked in the morning. He explained that the unwritten agreement with the artists is to unload immediately and then move their cars since Rec-Parks doesn’t like the cars interfering with the public thoroughfare.
In answer to Program Director Lazar’s question, Mr. Santiago said the car was parked there for about an hour.
Commissioner Shiota asked Mr. Santiago if he has interacted with the street artists. He said not really but that they’re usually very cooperative. He said that the general rule is no cars on the bricks.
Commissioner Frankel asked if there was any other contact with Mr. Cage after he ripped up the ticket. Mr. Santiago said there was none which is why he let the manager handle the situation.
Commissioner Chew asked about the fee amount for the citation. Mr. Santiago replied that it was $87.
Commissioner Schnair asked about the weather having had an effect on the parking situation; Mr. Santiago said it had been a nice day.
Commissioner Shiota asked about jurisdiction at Justin Herman Plaza and the existence of an official agreement. Mr. Santiago confirmed that Rec-Parks has jurisdiction and that he wasn’t aware of an official agreement but that essentially Rec-Parks is the landlord of the Plaza.
Commissioner Frankel asked Mr. Santiago if Mr. Cage threatened him. Mr. Santiago responded that the other witnesses thought that it could have escalated to possible physical confrontation. He continued that it’s not uncommon for him in his work to deal with aggressive behavior. He said that Mr. Cage was yelling and angry so he decided to let him walk off.
Program Director Lazar asked street artist Market Manager John Tunui to answer questions about the first two complaints that he witnessed against Mr. Cage. Mr. Tunui confirmed that he had spoken to Mr. Cage about parking on the plaza. Program Director Lazar read from Mr. Tunui’s written statements about the two incidents. Program Director Lazar stated that, from Mr. Tunui’s statements, it didn’t sound like Mr. Cage was apologetic. Mr. Tunui confirmed that the January 5 photo was of Mr. Cage’s former car, and he stated that the issue has been brought to the Street Artists Committee because Rec-Parks temporarily took away the artists’ unloading/loading privilege. Mr. Tunui thanked Mr. Santiago for giving back their privilege.
Program Director Lazar asked Street Artist John Cage to speak about the violation. Mr. Cage said that he takes the program very seriously and that the charges are a “gross misrepresentation”. He said that the other artists told him that if he doesn’t apologize, they’ll get him kicked out of the program. He explained that he got a ticket at 10:33 a.m. and he was only parked there 10 minutes since he unloaded, went to the bathroom and came back to a ticket. He said he thought the general rule was that they were allowed to be there until 11 a.m. He said that he did not approach the officer in a hostile or aggressive manner in public and there were witnesses. He said he was holding the ticket and the license and he wasn’t aggressive as he was standing 3-4 feet away. He explained that he tried to talk to Mr. Santiago but he told him they were in a meeting and to wait. Mr. Cage said he wants to know the official rule. He said he has evidence on his phone about other cars parking in the same spot. He said that he will follow the rules when he knows them. He explained the previous incidents. He said the first time he parked on the sidewalk because he didn’t know he wasn’t allowed to park there and John [Tunui] told him not to park there. He said for the January incident it was pouring rain and no one was on the plaza. He said he was being responsible and waited until no one was there to move. He said he did pull up onto the part of the plaza they aren’t allowed to be on. He explained that John Tunui was picking on him because he had seen many other people do the same thing but John only took a picture of him. He commented that he had no parking issues between January and July. He said that he was never hostile or aggressive. He said a law enforcement official has a sworn duty to arrest someone if they’re aggressive.
Program Director Lazar asked Mr. Cage about the January 5 incident. Mr. Cage said that he was only parked there for an hour contrary to what the report said. He said that he changed his display to get it in and out of his car quicker. Mr. Cage said he was parked in the afternoon for less than 5 minutes because it was pouring rain and he wasn’t that far over where they’re allowed to park.
Program Director Lazar asked Mr. Cage about the June 19 incident. Mr. Cage said he was only there for about 20 minutes unlike what Mr. Santiago had said.
Mr. Cage confirmed that he received the materials for today’s hearing but that he did not receive the warning from January; he only got the attachments but there was no letter so he thought it was resolved.
Street Artist Michael Addario stated that if Mr. Cage parked on the Plaza, it was wrong of him. He said that there are a lot of problems with the case. He said that the Manager position does not exist in the Bluebook and the artists’ spaces at the Plaza are gray because there is no lease or Arts Commission jurisdiction at Justin Herman Plaza. He said that he fears that Mr. Cage’s case will go before the Board of Appeals and the Arts Commission will lose like it did with the last case. He said that they lost the lease at Justin Herman Plaza and that the artists have been in gray market spaces for 20 some years. He said that he thinks the Arts Commission doesn’t have jurisdiction over this matter. He wanted to point out that Mr. Santiago doesn’t have a gun but does have arrest powers and he should have arrested him. Mr. Addario said he made the mistake last time when some lady threw a bottle and he didn’t call the police and it took a year to get rid of her. He said that they should have called the police this next time since it is not the Arts Commission’s jurisdiction, that it’s a serious matter and the Street Artists Program could be held liable for it. He said Mr. Cage claimed he didn’t receive his warning which should have been a certified letter or a call to confirm. He said Mr. Cage said he might go to the Board of Appeals, and he put them in a bad relationship with Recreation and Parks at Justin Herman Plaza.
Street Artist Tad Sky said that he’s been a street artist for 40 years. He said the artists have a great relationship with Rec and Parks and only licensed artists may sell at Justin Herman Plaza. He said that they must work with Rec and Parks regarding events and that it’s important to be good tenants because Rec and Parks could decide it doesn’t want them there. He said that he was former Market Manager and found that parking is very tricky. He said the artists’ cars are allowed for only loading and unloading and must be out before 9 a.m. Sunday-Fridays and before 8:30 a.m. on Saturdays and not allowed back on the Plaza until 4 or 5 p.m. which is common knowledge. He said that he’s announced this many times and that new artists ask the rules. He reminded Commissioners that at any time Rec and Park could say no more parking on the plaza which is what they did after the incident with Mr. Cage. He said that it is imperative to have parking privileges with 150 artists on Saturday and that if the privilege is lost, it would threaten the market.
Mr. Richard Ernst, SFPD officer, spoke as a citizen. He said on June 29, he was told that many street artists were afraid of Mr. Cage because of his behavior and threats to use a gun. Officer Ernst asked SFPD officer Patty Brown to visit Justin Herman Plaza on June 29 to speak with potential victims and Mr. Cage. She wrote a report which he introduced to the Committee. He read excerpts from the report regarding Mr. Cage’s behavior at the plaza and that he said he carries a gun. He explained that they made contact with Mr. Cage who was causing unnecessary attention to himself and asked if he carried a firearm. Mr. Ernst said that it is their legal obligation to investigate. He explained that they told Mr. Cage it was illegal to report a false report of someone with a gun which is what Mr. Cage said another artist did on him. Mr. Ernst said that Mr. Cage doesn’t have a valid California license so his driving onto Justin Herman Plaza is a misdemeanor, and that his alleged threat of using a gun is a felony.
Street Artist and retired SFPD officer David Southern said that he’s been in the program for 5 years. He fears the program could be shut down as a public nuisance. He said that on his first day he knew exactly the parking rules and if someone had told him to move his car, he would have moved it.
Street Artist Maria Hillius said she has been a street artist for 25 years and that she has explained many times to Mr. Cage about the parking times, hours and rules. She said that the first encounter she had with him he verbally abused her at the lottery but she did not report it. She said he finally apologized for his bad behavior weeks later.
Mr. Cage stated that the officer said that someone called them and said he had a gun. When he was told by John Tunui and Maria Hillius to apologize, he was threatened that he’d get kicked out of the program if he did not do so. He said there is not one record of him threatening anyone or showing a firearm or having a firearm. He said that if anyone ever threatened him with a gun, he’d call 911. He said the whole reason for this hearing is he refused to apologize to Mr. Santiago. He explained that the next day he got detained because someone said he had a gun. He said he will find out who made the 911 call. He said he has never been rude, hostile or threatening. If he suffers any damages, he will seek legal action and he’s been in consultation with an attorney.
John Tunui referred to a previous incident involving John Cage and another street where John Cage had threatened to pull out a gun. He also said that he asked Mr. Cage to show some remorse and apologize.
Program Director Lazar answered Commissioner Frankel’s question about hearing and penalty procedures. Discussion continued about differences between non-serious and serious violations. Program Director Lazar confirmed that he placed Mr. Cage’s incident as a “serious” violation. Program Director Lazar continued to explain the procedure of his issuing a decision letter 5 days after the hearing whereupon the artist has 15 business days to file an appeal with the SF Board of Appeals.
Program Director Lazar asked Commissioner Chew to ask Mr. Cage what he would do if the same incident were to occur again. Mr. Cage apologized for the incident. He said if he had not been threatened to be kicked out of the program, he would not be at this hearing. He said he tries to have as little interaction with the other street artists as possible.
Commissioner Schnair asked how long Mr. Cage been in the program. Program Director Lazar responded that his first license was issued on June 28, 2012.
The Commissioners discussed a motion of a finding. Program Director Lazar clarified that they have the option to mitigate or increase a standard penalty.
Motion: Motion to find John Cage had conducted business in an improper, hazardous manner which significantly threatened the integrity of the Street Artists Program.
Moved: Frankel; Shiota.
Mr. Richard Ernst noted that he works at Southern Station. He said that, based on the input he’s received about Mr. Cage, he believes it’s a public safety issue and that it’s the City’s obligation to protect the citizens. He said that this was a more serious issue than a parking violation. He said that if it’s not handled well, the City would seek to shut it down because of a public safety issue. He noted that if someone is continuously making threats, the artists’ fair could not be allowed to continue.
John Cage began speaking. Program Director Lazar clarified this was the time for comment from the public only. Mr. Cage continued speaking.
The motion was unanimously passed.
Commissioners discussed a possible penalty.
Motion: Motion to suspend the certificate of John Cage for one (1) month starting August 1.
Moved: Chew, Shiota.
There was no public comment.
The motion was unanimously approved.
Commissioner Chew suggested that Mr. Cage apologize to Mr. Santiago.
Commissioners and Program Director Lazar requested a break.
4. Action. Hearing and possible motion to approve the following Lottery Committee recommendations of July 1, 2013 Lottery Committee meeting:
1) A monthly official Lottery Committee meeting to occur on the first Monday of each month at 10 a.m. at Joseph Conrad Park.
2) The drawing for the selection of Lottery Committee members to take place at 8:45 a.m. (instead of occurring after the Wharf Main Lottery) on the next to last Saturday of the months of February, May, August and November.
3) Street Artists Program to purchase a Lottery Committee table for lotteries.
Program Director Lazar explained that he has been meeting with the Lottery Committee on a regular basis. He explained that the drawing time was determined by the Lottery Committee. He also explained that the Lottery Committee table would help keep order and organization at the lotteries. He noted that the Lottery Committee members all agreed that the recommendations were suitable.
Commissioner Chew asked Lottery Committee member Kathy Hallinan to speak about the recommendations. Ms. Hallinan thanked the Program staff for convening the monthly meetings. She said that the Program is stronger by having the artists and staff go over the rules and revisit the “Bluebook” [the Program’s handbook of rules and procedures]. She said she wants to see the table used because it would create order for both the artists and the Lottery Committee members. She said that the monthly meetings will strengthen the relationship between the Lottery Committee and the Arts Commission.
Program Director Lazar answered Commissioner Chew’s question about storing the table. He said that the lottery supplies are already stored at nearby Fiddler’s Green bar.
Commissioner Frankel asked if the Committee was allowed to approve expense items. Program Director Lazar answered in the affirmative and stated that the Program budget would pay for it and that the Program has a contract with Staples. He said he does not foresee the table to cost much.
Motion: Motion to approve the above Lottery Committee recommendations of July 1, 2013 Lottery Committee meeting
Moved: Frankel, Schnair.
There was no public comment.
The motion was unanimously approved.
5. Action. Hearing and possible motion to amend Section 1(d) of Proposition L (Street Artist Ordinance) of November 1975 ballot to restrict “family unit” as no more than 2 street artist members.
Program Director Lazar explained the Street Artist Ordinance’s definition of a “family unit”: two or more artists jointly engaged in the creation of an item with no employer-employee relationship. He said he received a petition signed by many artists asking that the family unit language be amended to state “no more than 2 street artists”. He said that he believes the origin of the “family unit” stemmed from the concept of two people who were dependent on each other making an item. He explained that, in recommending whether two or more artists should be licensed as a family unit, the screening committee ascertains that each member provides a significant contribution to the item.
Program Director Lazar asked that the artists further explain the issue.
Street Artist Tad Sky explained that the problem, as stated on the petition, is that it really doesn’t take more than 2 people to create a craft. He said that sometimes people get together as a business but the problem is that family units become more than two. He said it becomes a strategy for unit members to fill a lottery so the unit will get more than two chances to get a good space. He continued to explain that if they get good spaces, many times they can put the spaces together. He also explained that sometimes “silent” partners” get a license and also enter the lotteries to get a space. He said that single artists have to compete with these “megaunits”. He said that there have been many complaints over the years.
Commissioner Shiota commented that sometimes more than 2 artists would work together. She asked about the amending process so that a “business” only gets one license.
Tad Sky answered that the Advisory Committee tried to recommend that and that the City Attorney said it was not possible.
Program Director Lazar further explained that each street artist has the same rights as any other street artist regardless of whether the artist is part of a family unit. Therefore to prohibit a family unit member from entering a lottery would possibly abridge his rights. He said that the simplest way is to amend the definition to limit a family unit to two persons. He advised the Commissioners to not take this single item to the ballot because it would probably be misunderstood and it’s not significant enough to take by itself. He explained that the Commission should consider going to the ballot when there are multiple amendments requested.
Commissioner Chew asked about the process of going to the ballot. Program Director Lazar answered that it would be submitted to the Board of Supervisors and the Board would put it on the ballot.
Tad Sky said that the artists decided it isn’t worthwhile to go to the voters for this one amendment but they wanted to bring it up for approval by the Commission and ultimate submission with other items for the ballot.
Commissioner Frankel explained his challenges with the item.
Program Director Lazar explained that the Advisory Committee is very thorough in its screening of applicant street artists which indirectly limits the number of people in a family unit. He said that while people in the family unit can demonstrate they can do significant contributions on a craft, the result is that a family unit can push out an individual artist’s chances of obtaining a good space in the lottery. He said that it is simpler to change the language as stated in the proposal. He referenced that long time street artist Tad Sky himself had just said that it usually doesn’t take more than two artists to create a craft.
Program Director Lazar answered Commissioner Frankel’s question that there are two or three family units that are egregious in size and the main problem is the selling advantage over a single artist.
Commissioner Shiota stated that the proposal was a loophole fix. She asked why the license couldn’t be redefined and made to represent business units. She said it seems that it is vague to define the family unit issue or figure out who is integral to an item, and that someone will find a loophole to this verbiage. She said that she had been part of the early street artists movement and that her whole family helped each other create their crafts.
Street Artist Michael Addario stated that he doesn’t believe in a “family unit”. He said that an artist should make his own artwork; the “family unit” has been totally corrupted and that an artist should do something different. He asked what the Commission would do with the people who are already screened with more than 2 family unit members. He said that the proposal can’t be enforced and that it wasn’t thought through. He asked if family unit members would be removed from the program or if everyone would be rescreened. He said they shouldn’t be able to sell the same art. He explained one problem is slumped bottles since they bump the single artists out. As a photographer, he stated, he can’t get multiple people on his license. He said that the proposal won’t work and they can’t remove the people who are already in the program.
Street Artist Maria Hillius maintained that, in the petition, it states that those members with more than two in a unit may keep their license if they don’t let it expire. If it expires, she continued, then they would have to get rescreened. She mentioned that the bigger family units always control the same, good spaces every day or sometimes they take three or four spaces in the same area to control the whole market. She said that one person comes into the program and then learns they can add people, and they keep adding people. She explained that usually one person is the master mind of the craft and others just share it.
Commissioner Frankel said that he doesn’t understand enough about the family unit details to make a motion. There was further discussion about tabling the motion. Commissioner Shiota asked to look into what can be done within the Arts Commission’s purview.
Motion: Motion to continue item #5 to the call of the chair.
Moved: Frankel, Schnair
There was no further public comment.
The motion was unanimously approved.
6. Discussion. Public Comment.
Street Artist Michael Addario stated that he has an issue with Sergeant Ernst presenting the police report on John Cage at the end of the hearing. He suggested that it should have been presented ahead of time and that the Commissioners should have gotten a copy of it. He said it’s highly prejudicial since John couldn’t rebut it. He also stated that the narratives should be made into a formal document by Program Director Lazar in case the witnesses don’t show up. He said that if they don’t show up, they have no way to verify the statement because it turns into hearsay. He suggested the narratives be given to the Program Director before being placed in the record. He said that selling artwork on the public street is a First Amendment right, and that artists in Venice Beach and New York City don’t pay any fees. He asked that an item regarding paying the sergeant-of-arms be voted on by the Street Artists Program Committee since the artists are paying for it. He suggested holding meetings at City Hall because it is more secure and there is closed circuit TV to video tape meetings rather than have an audio tape of the meetings.
Street Artist Kathy Hallinan thanked the Arts Commission, Street Artists Program staff and Commissioners for securing the temporary spaces for the Wharf which the Port made available to the artists during the reconstruction of Jefferson Street. She said the spaces worked out very well and the performers liked having the artists there too. She explained that next year is her 40th anniversary as a street artist. She spoke about her experiences as a street artist in the beginning. She explained that she’s had many designers purchase from her since her work is very unique. She said she’s in favor of the Street Artists Program remaining part of the Arts Commission.
Street Artist Maria Hillius added that she makes her living at Justin Herman Plaza. She urged that the Arts Commission create a MOU with the Recreation and Parks Department for Justin Herman Plaza. She said the MOU is important for protection. She explained that the current gray area of understanding makes it difficult to know if she’ll have a place to work the next day. With an MOU, the Arts Commission could create and enforce rules for the Plaza.
Street Artist Tad Sky welcomed the new Commissioners. He warned that, at their meetings, Commissioners will see the worst of the program. He urged the Commissioners to visit Justin Herman Plaza to see 100 artists in one area with a cross section of the finest crafts sold.
There was no further public comment.
7. Discussion. New Business and Announcements.
There was no new business or announcements.
8. Action. Adjournment.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:09 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by:
Alyssa Licouris, Street Artists Program Assistant
Minutes approved by:
Howard Lazar, Street Artists Program Director
An audio recording of this meeting is available online at the following address: http://www.sfgov3.org/index.aspx?page=4151
Additional Explanatory documents submitted at the meeting: Item #3: "Narrative" Excerpt from SFPD Incident Report 130532959 submitted by Richard Ernst.
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