City and County of San FranciscoSan Francisco Arts Commission

May 8, 2013

Street Artists Committee - May 8, 2013

Wednesday, May 8, 2013
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
Amy Chuang
Marcus Shelby

Commissioners Absent: Simon Frankel

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

Commissioner Chew welcomed Commissioner Shelby to the Committee. He also noted that Commissioner Calloway has an appointment at 3:45 p.m. He also welcomed Officer Brandt (as sergeant-at-arms) and thanked Program Director Lazar and Deputy Director Krell for their work with the Street Artists Program.

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

Program Director Lazar reported on the following:

Resolution Passed by Board of Supervisors: 5 street artist spaces on Market Street at Spear Street for Saturday use only were approved.

Lottery Committee meetings: Program Director Lazar will commence meetings with Lottery Committee to review lottery rules and procedures.

May 16th Criteria meeting: Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Crafts Examiners will hold a meeting to consider upgrading screening criteria of the Program.

Street Artist Sanford Geuss selected for Smart Car campaign: His artwork will be featured on a “smart car” to be showcased this upcoming weekend at Justin Herman Plaza.

Membership List/Craft List now online: Program Assistant Licouris has now posted the Program’s Membership list and Craft list (the artist’s arts and crafts) online.

Commissioner Chew asked Sanford Geuss to talk about his artwork which was selected for a “smart car”.

Street Artist Sanford Geuss said that the artwork focuses on scenes of San Francisco and explained the process which selected his art for placement on a “smart car”. He invited commissioners to attend the event.

Public Comment:
Street Artist Michael Addario asked if the meeting had to end at 3:45 pm.

Commissioner Chew answered that Commissioner Calloway had to leave but there would still be a quorum.

Mr. Addario explained that since the Committee’s meetings are only bimonthly, there are very serious issues that are brought to the meetings and that some commissioners need to reevaluate their commitment if they can’t take two hours out of their schedule.

3. Action. Hearing and possible motion to request the Board of Supervisors to amend Article 24 (San Francisco Municipal Code), Section 2401(b), by changing the definition of "Handcrafted Item" from its present definition of "An item predominantly created or significantly altered in form by the street artist" to "An item made by hand or by a hand process as contrasted to machine made" (hearing continued from 3/13/13 meeting of Street Artists Committee).

Commissioner Calloway asked Program Director Lazar to give Commissioner Shelby a quick overview of the issue.

Program Director Lazar explained that there was no “handcrafted item” definition in the original street artist ordinance. He said that the definition of a handcrafted item was added by the Board of Supervisors in 1983 and states “an item that is predominately created or significantly altered by the artist.” He stated that at the last meeting a controversy arose among artists such as photographers and painters who sell their work as reproductions. He said that, prior to the digital age, there were very few printmakers in the program due to the high costs of traditional printmaking or photo-finishing. He stated that his interpretation of the proposal means it would possibly eliminate those types of crafts that are not produced or manipulated by the artist’s hand. He explained that the example used at the previous meeting was that a sewing machine would be allowed because an artist can manipulate by hand that type of machine.

Program Director Lazar introduced a 1983 City Attorney opinion which stated that cassette tapes should be allowed in the Street Artists Program because they are recordings of the artist’s work and the Arts Commission couldn’t limit its licensing to visual art. Furthermore, he highlighted a sentence from the 1983 opinion which stated “However, by its terms, the Street Artist Ordinance is not limited to handmade items..” He explained that although City Attorney George Agnos was at the time referring to cassette tapes, Program Director Lazar maintained that the opinion could also apply to non-handmade reproductions of an artist’s flat art.

He also reminded the Commissioners that the Street Artists Committee had, years before, held a lengthy hearing about limited editions. He said the Commissioners had decided to get rid of limited editions and allow third party reproductions but insisted on the artists and photographers labeling the back of their prints with the type of print and the artist’s name which would tell the public what it would be paying for. It was also felt that the label criteria would be much easier to enforce rather than trying to monitor the number of prints sold in limited editions.

He noted that Bill and Bob Clark, who had proposed the change of definition of “handcrafted item,” were not present. He commented that today’s meeting afforded any additional input for the item.

Commissioner Calloway asked about limited editions prior to the digital age, and Program Director Lazar answered that the Arts Commission eliminated the requirement for limited editions which, in effect, affirmed the right for artists and photographers to go to outside printing houses to reproduce their artwork.

Commissioner Chew added that printing technology has changed for printmaking.

Program Director Lazar noted that, personally, he felt the chemical fumes had been unhealthy for photographers developing their own prints.

Public Comment:
Street Artist Michael Addario read from the preamble of the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment. He explained that the Supreme Court has labeled art as speech and the government cannot restrict it which is what the proposal would be doing. He quoted from the case of Berry vs. City of New York and explained that visual art is as wide ranging as any other art and is entitled to First Amendment protection. He also cited from Riley vs. National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina which states, he said, that visual art falls under the protection of the First Amendment. He described a Supreme Court issue regarding fee shifting. He said that a statutory provision offers prevailing parties who successfully sue to recover attorney fees.

Street Artist Eddy Steneck read from his written statement. He said that he and his wife, Sharon MacDougall, are able to manipulate Kinko’s machines themselves. He said that the proposal would have devastating results for the artists and the Program since it would eliminate half the program and it would force out visual arts and crafts. He said that photography is a new process since it is digital now. He explained the photographic process and the time it takes to create paintings. He said reproductions allow the artists to present visual images to the public at affordable prices.

Deputy Director Krell stated that Mr. Steneck had used up his 3 minutes of public comment and she suggested that another artist finish his statement.

Street Artist Sharon MacDougall explained that the idea of limiting prints is impractical and it would be unfair to the public since it would seem to give a value to the print that it does not have. She also noted that it’s pointless to make a rule that can’t be enforced. She presented a variety of prints of her paintings.

Street Artist Dik Knoble stated that he used to number the prints of his photography but stopped doing it because it was too hard to keep track of with their different sizes and presentations. He said that the exclusivity that he offers deals with the presentation and he explained that his little matted photographs sell more because they’re less expensive. He said he likes the current definition of a handcrafted item.

Program Director Lazar described the explanatory documents relative to the meeting as per Commissioner Chew’s request.

Commissioner Calloway stated that, because of the City Attorney opinion on cassette tapes, the proposal is a moot point. Since precedent has been set, there shouldn’t be a change of the definition as long as the artists clearly label their prints. He said he understands the idea of the proposal but that it would disadvantage other artists.

Commissioner Chew suggested tabling the motion.

Program Director explained the details of tabling or taking a motion. The Commissioners discussed what they wanted to do with the item. Deputy Director Krell explained further the difference between tabling and taking a motion.

The motion was tabled by Commissioner Chew.

4. Action. Hearing and possible motion to request increase in street artist application fee from current fee of $20 to $50.

Program Director Lazar noted the proposal and petition signed by 25 artists which had been submitted by Street Artist Tad Sky. He explained the composition of the Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Crafts Examiners; each member receives compensation of $100 per meeting or assignment for 35 meetings or assignments per year. He said that the budgeted amount for the Committee is $17,500. He explained that there has been an average of 178 street artist applicants for the past 2 fiscal years. He said that 178 applicants at the current application fee of $20 would raise $3,560 or 20% of the budgeted amount for the Committee.

He explained that the Application/Examination Fee Ordinance would need to be changed to accommodate the proposal. The average 178 applicants would then yield $8,900 or 51% of the budgeted amount. He stated that, regardless of the increased revenue, his interpretation of the artists’ intention of the proposal is to increase the amount of monitoring of the Advisory Committee on the streets. He noted that monitoring of new artists is especially important. He explained that the increased revenue would increase the Committee’s budget to $22,840 and would provide 10 additional assignments for each committee member.

Program Director Lazar explained the breakdown of the assignments in terms of street monitoring, screening assignments, and studio visits. He said the total monitoring assignments would be 28 but he said he’s in favor of using the 10 additional assignments as needed and to not be locked into using them just for street monitoring. He explained that they could be also used for studio visits and other enforcement measures.

He quoted the Application/Examination Fee Ordinance and stated that the staff interprets the processing of applications and examinations by necessity to include the Advisory Committee’s follow-up examinations or street monitoring and studio visits in order to verify that the artists’ wares are the same ones as initially approved by the Advisory Committee. He stated that the proposal to increase the application/examination fee was therefore appropriate.

Commissioner Chew commented on the flexibility of using the additional monitoring meetings.

Commissioner Shelby asked when the last time the fee was increased. Program Director Lazar responded that it never has been increased since it was created in 1996.

Deputy Director Krell added that while the $20 fee has always stayed the same, the rate of compensation to the Advisory Committee has increased over time with the cost of living.

Program Director Lazar added that the compensation to the Advisory Committee started at $20 and went up to $100. He added that the number of meetings have increased throughout the years as well.

Deputy Director Krell answered Commissioner Chew’s question that the fee increase would take effect during the next fiscal year.

Commissioner Chew asked about the time frame for the fee increase and Program Director Lazar responded that the fee would be $50 indefinitely unless changed again.

Commissioner Shelby asked if the need to increase the application fee was to get more monitoring or to bring the compensation amount up to current times. Program Director Lazar responded that his interpretation of the proposal is to obtain more monitoring of the arts and crafts being sold.

Public Comment:
Street Artist Michael Addario said that he’s astounded to see the raise of the application fee since the license fees were just increased. He said that Berkeley’s fee is $240 per year. He said that you can’t monitor the program and that something is wrong. He said that the proposal is “an attempt to close the door after the horse has left the barn” and will not help with non-compliant members already in the program. He said that there is a serious contamination problem with imported items. He reminded the Commissioners that it’s a long and tedious process to remove an artist.

Mr. Addario stated that when there is a contamination in another area, the only alternative is to bring in specialists to “purge the system”. He stated that one must not allow any other contaminants and to not let people who allowed it to oversee the process since only specialists should be allowed. He recommended a thorough review of all members to ensure they are complying with the Program. He stated that the authorities who allowed the contamination need to be held accountable for “loss of status and revenue” to legitimate artists.

Street Artist Tad Sky stated that he came up with the proposal and many artists agreed that it was a good idea. He said that the application/examination fee has nothing to do with the license fee but it’s about follow-up inspection of new artists. He said that the fee doesn’t cover the Advisory Committee costs. He explained that the inspection system in the screening is great but that there isn’t a direct follow-up. He explained that the proposal would help pay for the initial screening as well as follow-up on the street. Ultimately, he said, the artists would like to see Advisory Committee members carry iPads on the street to compare screening photos to what the artists are displaying. He said it has nothing to do with contamination but with inspection. He said that street artists brought up the proposal. He said that he talked to Advisory Committee members last week and they’re happy to increase their monitoring but there is just not enough funds; the proposal would add to funds. His hope is that a new artist will be on a list and the Committee can look for that person. He explained that 95% of the artists are honest but there are a few who aren’t. He said that artists like inspections on the street and that they feel there is not enough coverage now. He spoke about an artist who was selling for 8 months items that he didn’t make, but a studio visit helped bring down that artist. He reiterated that the proposal doesn’t add to the fee but just helps cover the actual cost.

Street Artist Maria Hillius commented that she was in the Program early in its beginning. She stated that even if Berkeley is charging a low license fee, she will still choose to be in the program that fits her profile and needs: she’s still here in San Francisco’s program because she’s pleased with the price and likes what the program brings to her life.

Motion: Motion to request increase in street artist application fee from current fee of $20 to $50.
Moved: Calloway, Chuang.

The motion was unanimously approved.

5. Discussion. Public Comment.

Street Artist Tad Sky introduced the “family unit” issue. He said that he believes it has outlived its use since sometimes there are now 3, 4 or 5 people in a family unit and it doesn’t take that many people to make an item. He said that people form family unit alliances and then have a huge advantage over single artists at the lottery in obtaining selling spaces. He explained that the other problem is that when family unit members are verified in the sharing of the production of an item, many times they are screened individually for other items so you can’t tell who should be selling what item or they are even selling things they didn’t make. He said that it’s hard to verify who is supposed to be selling which item. He added that it gets very complicated for Lottery members and Market Managers and he thinks that a family unit shouldn’t be any more than 2 people. He stated that, anecdotally, many artists feel the same way. He suggested that it could be talked about at the Advisory Committee criteria meeting on May 16.

There was no further public comment.

6. Discussion. New Business and Announcements.

There was no new business or announcements.

7. Action. Adjournment.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:40 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:

Translated written materials and interpretation services are available to you at no cost. For assistance, please notify Howard Lazar, 415-252-2583,

如需協助,Howard Lazar, 415-252-2583,

Materiales traducidos y servicios de interpretación están disponibles para usted de manera gratuita. Para asistencia, notifique a Howard Lazar, 415-252-2583,