City and County of San FranciscoSan Francisco Arts Commission

January 8, 2014

Street Artists Committee - January 8, 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014
2:30 p.m.

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



Commissioner Chew, Chair, called the meeting to order at 2:35 p.m.

1. Roll Call
Commissioners Present:
Greg Chew, Chair
Abby Schnair
Marcus Shelby
Janine Shiota

Commissioners Absent: Simon Frankel

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

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

Program Director Lazar reported on the following:

Criteria Meetings: The Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Crafts Examiners has completed 5 arts and crafts meetings to upgrade the screening criteria of applicants’ wares. Program Director Lazar stated that the next meeting is scheduled for January 21, 2014. He read the craft categories that the Advisory Committee has completed so far but reminded the Commissioners that the entire package will be presented to them once the Advisory Committee has reviewed the entire list.

Studio Visits Update: Program Director Lazar reported that the crochet animal hats of11 artists have been re-examined. The artists, with the exception of two, have been approved. The staff estimate 6 more crochet hat artists to be examined.

Arts Commission Newsletter Spotlight: Heather Ussery, who sells her handbags, aprons and books at Justin Herman Plaza, and Simone Guimaraes, who sells her upcycled paintings at the Plaza, were spotlighted in the last newsletters.

Winter Holiday Spaces: Program Director Lazar explained that this was the 32nd year of obtaining additional temporary holiday spaces for the artists. He noted that the 60 spaces are located in the Downtown area and Harvey Milk Plaza and were available November 15 through January 15.

Winter Holiday Violations: Program Director Lazar stated that he observed two artists who repeatedly violated the street artist ordinance such as selling in an illegal space and having an oversized display. These artists will be invited to a Program Director public hearing whereby if they agree to abide by the rules, their licenses will be renewed. If they violate again, they will be scheduled for hearings with the Street Artists Program Committee for possible harsher disciplinary action.

Lottery Committee meetings: Program Director Lazar stated that he’s been meeting with the Lottery Committee monthly to review rules and discuss possible amendments of the rules.

Commissioner Schnair asked if the holiday season went smoothly.

Program Director Lazar replied that it did run smoothly. He said the sidewalk barriers of the Central Subway construction project had been taken down which permitted the relocation of 6 prime street artist spaces. He said that the artists also had good weather.

Public Comment:
Street Artist Bill Clark asked if the Street Artists Program Committee will be reviewing the budget this year. He explained that historically the budget has been reviewed by this Committee so artists can give their input casually. He said that the last year or two the budget was taken at the Executive Committee and the artists were not given a lot of notice. He said there was a lot of hostility because they wanted to be involved. He explained that public comment at the Board of Supervisors was very limited. He said he would like an opportunity to discuss the finances in front of the Street Artists Program Committee and that it’s important that street artists become aware of the budget.

Deputy Director Krell clarified that the entire Arts Commission budget will go to the Executive Committee this month and to the full Commission next month.

Street Artist Kathy Hallinan thanked Program Director Lazar and the office for facilitating the Lottery Committee meetings. She said that the Lottery Committee members have a tough job and that having the staff work with her Committee on a regular basis and to listen to input is helpful. She said that regular communication is appreciated and it’s important to keep a strong Program structure.

3. Action. Hearing and possible motion to approve the following Lottery Committee recommendation of December 2, 2013 Lottery Committee meeting to amend Arts Commission Resolution Number 1101-04-220 (deletions in italics; additions in bold):

Motion to approve Lottery Committee recommendation to amend Arts Commission Resolution Number 1101-04-220, adopted November 1, 2004, to allow for selection of additional lottery helpers for peak selling seasons of winter for the period of the day after Thanksgiving December 15 through the first Monday after January 1 January 5, and summer for the period of the Friday before Memorial Day through Labor Day; amendment would provide that additional helpers for winter be selected only for the period of December 15 through January 5.

Program Director Lazar explained that the lotteries for the street artist spaces have been smaller compared with those of years ago. The Lottery Committee members have said that they don’t need additional helpers until the middle of the holiday season. He reminded the Commissioners that helpers draw the lottery slips, write numbers on slips, record numbers, and assist the Committee. He said that they usually pick three helpers but during the holiday season they need more than three. He said that helpers get a free space after the Lottery Committee worker has chosen a space. He said that the Lottery Committee was unanimous about their recommendation and that if the Commissioners approve it, it will be placed on the February full Arts Commission consent calendar.

Commissioner Shelby clarified that the recommendation was simply changing the dates. Program Director Lazar confirmed this clarification.

Program Director Lazar answered Commissioner Shiota’s question that the lotteries only pertain Downtown and Wharf selling spaces.

Public Comment:
Street Artist Kathy Hallinan, Lottery Committee member, said that due to the post-holiday season she didn’t sign in a single person this morning for the Downtown lottery. She said that demographics have changed and not as many artists want to go to Union Square. She said that it doesn’t make sense to keep the extended time period for extra helpers since not many people sell Downtown anymore.

Brian Hopper, Lottery Committee member, seconded Ms. Hallinan’s opinion. He said that there are less artists who want to sell after the holidays so it is overkill to have extra helpers.

Motion: Motion to approve Lottery Committee recommendation to amend Arts Commission Resolution Number 1101-04-220 to provide that additional helpers for winter be selected only for the period of December 15 through January 5.
Moved: Schnair, Shiota

No further public comment.

The motion was unanimously approved.

4. Action. Hearing and possible motion to amend the lottery space assignment noon rule.

Program Director Lazar explained that the current noon lottery rule requires a street artist assigned a selling space through the lottery system to mark their assigned selling space with their lottery slip by 12:00 noon or risk having their assigned selling space reassigned to another street artist for the rest of the day. He continued that a street artist “marks” their space by going to that space and taping down the lottery slip to the space. The artist isn’t required to start selling immediately. In the meantime, any other artist can set up in that space temporarily until the owner comes.

Program Director Lazar answered Commissioner Chew’s questions. He said that the amount of time necessary for an artist to set up his display varies depending on the craft of the artist. Program Director Lazar further explained that in the event of more than one artist wishing to sell in an unoccupied space, the artists can compare lottery slips in order to determine who gets to occupy the empty space (the lowest number gets to sell in the space).

Street Artist Bill Clark presented his proposal. He said that under the current rules, an artist must go to the lottery at the wharf and then if he intends to sell downtown, he must go downtown to mark his space or find someone else to mark it for him. The artist is penalized if he is a minute late because after noon his space can be given to someone else. He explained that the artist who makes the effort to go to the lottery shouldn’t be penalized. He also said that weather can be a factor. He stated that with the proposed rule, anyone can use the space until the artist shows up.

He explained that the Venice Beach boardwalk has a similar lottery. Because of a New York ruling (NY vs Berry), the US Court of Appeals ruled that fine art is protected by the First Amendment for its display and sale without a permit. The ruling on Venice Beach stated that their system is constitutional because they allow people to sell until the person who has been assigned the space shows up. He said that the government shouldn’t dictate what time you start selling. He explained that with the current San Francisco lottery rules, the artist must be back by 12 noon to his space or lose the space . He said that when you’re assigned a space, it should be your spot for the day. He said that anyone can use the space temporarily but they must vacate as quickly as possible if the artist comes back to claim his space.

He explained that in keeping with the federal court ruling relevant to New York, artists have the First Amendment right of freedom of expression to display and sell. While the City can regulate time, place, manner for selling, it can’t deprive artists of selling and display on the sidewalk. This was in regards to a Central Park issue. The court ruled that Park and Rec can’t prohibit artists from selling but it can set up a system to regulate the selling. He said that Venice Beach took that federal ruling into consideration and created a system for a temporary artist to vacate a space assigned to another artist.

Program Director Lazar clarified with Mr. Clark that Venice Beach had a noon rule similar to San Francisco’s but the Court had said that there shouldn’t be a requirement that the artist mark a space. Mr. Clark said that if the space was unoccupied, it could be reassigned as long as the original permitholder didn’t show up.

Commissioner Chew commented that he’d like to know more about Venice Beach’s program.

William Clark added that Venice Beach has its rules online.

Commissioner Shelby asked if any artists were against the proposal and if certain situations have led to this proposal.

William Clark answered that it’s either hard to get someone to mark your space or to go mark it yourself, otherwise you can lose it.

Commissioner Shiota asked if the “squatter” in the space is always an artist from the Program. Mr. Clark said yes.

Mr. Clark clarified that the Program does have a sign in sheet at the Wharf so an artist can see if a certain space is assigned on the sign in sheet. An artist can present their slip to an individual who is using the space to show that it is the artist’s space for the day.

Commissioner Shiota commented that this rule change would need to be communicated well to the entire Program. Program Director Lazar agreed and clarified that he can make announcements at the lotteries, hand out flyers, and put it on the Arts Commission’s website.

Commissioner Schnair asked if an artist will question the lottery slip as proof. Mr. Clark replied that there have been incidents of artists marking their spaces and, upon returning, finding that their slips are gone and other artists attempting to use the space unaware it was assigned. He said they’ve worked it out using the sign in sheet. He said that the lottery slip is also proof of the rightful owner of the space. He said if the rule is changed, it would be okay to put off starting it for a month to make sure there’s an opportunity to make announcements.

Former street artist Robert Clark said that artists can call the office to check the sign in sheets since the Lottery Committee is supposed to send pictures of the sheets by e-mail.

Motion as amended: Any assigned selling space that is unoccupied at 12:00 noon by the street artist who is assigned that selling space through the lottery system can be temporarily reassigned to another street artist. However, the street artist who is temporarily reassigned the assigned selling space must voluntarily vacate the assigned selling space upon the arrival at any time throughout the day of the street artist who was assigned the selling space through the lottery system. In receiving a space through the lottery, the artist is not required to mark their space.
Moved: Shelby, Shiota.

Public Comment:
Street Artist Jimmy Sha stated that, while he is not on the Lottery Committee at the present time, he has talked to 15 people who don’t want to change the rule. He said that, in reality, artists give away spaces to each other, and that this proposal would legalize cheating.

Commissioner Shelby asked if the lottery slips bear the names of the artists. Program Director Lazar responded in the affirmative. He added that if more than one artist wants to temporarily use a space assigned to another artist, they can compare lottery numbers to see who can sell temporarily in the space.

Street Artist William Clark said that before the noon rule existed, more people could cheat. He said that an artist could tell their friend that they aren’t going to sell so the friend could set up in that space. The temporary artist could then steal that space at noon because their friend isn’t ever coming to claim the space. He said that the artists are trying to stop cheating any way they can.

Street Artist Kathy Hallinan said that there would be more transparency with this proposal. She said that there’s always cheating in any system. She likes setting up later in the day and she said that artists are welcome to use her spot until she shows up. She said that Alyssa can publish the day’s sign in sheet on the website if the lottery members send it to her so that conflicts over spaces can be resolved.

Robert Clark said that he supported the proposal. He said that he’s spoken to many artists who also support it. He said that if an artist is against it, they should be at this meeting. He shared a personal example where he lost his space one day. He said that he marked his spot and left but, right before noon, he watched an artist remove his slip from the sidewalk. He said if the Arts Commission has this information available, it will help with problems Downtown so someone can call the Arts Commission.

The motion unanimously passed.

5. Discussion. Public Comment.

Street Artist Kathy Hallinan stated that this is her 40th anniversary of being in the Street Artists Program. She explained that her personal campaign last year was about saving the trees at Fisherman’s Wharf. She said that this year she will be volunteering with Green Party candidate Laura Wells. She said her focus for the New Year includes the Orca Network and saving the Taiji Cove dolphins. She asked that the Street Artist Committee support her.

Street Artist William Clark asked to address the recently published Arts Commission book. He said that the history of the Street Artists Program in the book was not correct; he said that Ray Taliaferro was given credit as spearheading the program. He said that the Street Artists Guild was a grassroots organization formed by himself and other people . He presented the Commissioners with historical documents regarding the creation of the Street Artists Program. He stated that he had asked the Arts Commission for a retraction and correction on its homepage to give credit to the original creators. He also presented the Commissioners with a time line and a history of events before the creation of the Street Artists Program. He requested a review of the information he presented and a consideration of his request to put something on the website. He said he thinks Mr. Taliaferro wouldn’t be opposed to the correction.

Former street artist Robert Clark explained that the book was inaccurate about Proposition L. He said he transcribed the Board of Supervisors’ June 1975 meeting where Prop L was presented to repeal the Guild’s Prop J and return authority to the Board. He said he understands the book goes over a quick history of the street artists and that Mr. Taliaferro deserves credit because he was one of the first Commissioners to support them, but that the other three individuals, Warren Garrick, Frank Whyte and Bill Clark also deserve credit too. Without Prop J, he said, there wouldn’t be any legal street artist spaces on the sidewalk.

There was no additional public comment.

6. Discussion. New Business and Announcements.

There was no public comment.

Commissioner Shiota asked about the history of the creation of the Program.

Program Director Lazar explained his understanding of its creation. He said that Bill Clark was one of the original members of the Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Crafts Examiners but eventually stepped down from the Committee.

Mr. Clark clarified that he and Warren Garrick stepped down from the Committee because there weren’t any legal designated selling spaces for the artists.

Commissioner Schnair suggested that Mr. Clark and Program Director Lazar work together to create a summary of the history of the Street Artists Program which can be put on the Arts Commission’s website.

Program Director Lazar and Mr. Clark agreed to write a one paragraph history to show the contribution of the artists.

Commissioner Shiota commented that this story will help people understand what the Arts Commission is about. She said that there could be a possible opportunity for using interesting photos to tell a story. She used, as an example, TED talks which condense complex stories into a short, concise story. She said that her mother was one of the original street artists and that she would sit with her mom selling at Union Square. She said that those types of stories are key to what people don’t understand about the Arts Commission. She suggested using the knowledge of the history of the Program as a good opportunity to create a 3 minute video with one of the Arts Commission’s partners. She said that these types of stories are stories that she would want to share.

Commissioner Chew commented that there have been many press interviews and stories about the Program.

William Clark said that street artist Mike Addario found old film clips from various news stations. He suggested that the Arts Commission digitize that footage from the news stations.

Commissioner Shelby thanked Mr. Clark for sharing the history with the Committee.

7. Action. Adjournment.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:58 p.m.

ADL 1/16/14

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,