Residents and businesses in and around Broadway have had enough of the violence and rowdy crowds that have become associated with the North Beach corridor, and many are mobilizing to change things.
Residents and business owners have been trying to clean up the street for years, but an increase in violence over the past few years has added urgency. Most recently, a brawl involving more than 100 people broke out on the street in February. Gun violence, loitering and overserved bar patrons have also plagued the street.
For the first time in years, Broadway business owners, residents and city leaders are organizing to create a community benefit district that would provide extra money to increase security measures. Members also hope to use the organization to influence what new businesses can come to the area.
“We think having more variation in the types of businesses — live music entertainment, restaurants — will make Broadway more attractive,” said Joe Caroba, who is with the nonprofit Broadway Entertainment and Cultural Association. “And having one voice when working with The City, if we want more police or a sheriff’s bus out there, it helps.”
A community benefit district would collect a fee from property owners along Broadway between Columbus Avenue and Montgomery Street and south to Pacific Avenue. How the money would be spent is decided by a committee of community members. But in order for such a district to be formed, a majority of property owners would need to agree to create one. Ballots for those votes are being created. A similar attempt to create a benefit district failed in 2008.
The goals of such an organization can vary.
“With a community benefits district we’ll have a budget to re-brand Broadway,” said Nadar Marvi, president of the community group Voice of Broadway and partner in the Monroe nightclub, which is located on Broadway.
Another suggestion from Community Leadership Alliance Director David Villa-Lobos is to reduce the number of liquor licenses by reselling them to other parts of The City.
In regard to liquor licenses, Marvi said that instead of decreasing them in the area, they should focus on the types that are being approved. Marvi said his group would like more liquor licenses for restaurants instead of bars. He said bar licenses tend to be issued to people with no experience in the industry who turn to outside promoters to increase business.
“Promoters have no interest or investment in the business, they just help bring in heads,” Marvi said. “That’s why the block turned the way it did.”
Board President David Chiu, whose district includes Broadway, has been working to organize a benefit district since he took office in 2009. Chiu said it’s taken a long time, but he noted that everyone is interested in creating a better Broadway.
“Hopefully we will be moving forward very soon with it,” he said. “For years, Broadway has had significant issues. During my time as district supervisor, I passed four pieces of legislation to address different aspects. Despite the legislative work done, problems persist.”
A benefit district would be the newest tool for the area, where ways to clean up the troubled street have varied from hiring private security to increasing police presence. Residents hope the district could bring about change.
“It’s very exciting to see some substantial steps to improve conditions on Broadway,” said Jon Golinger, president of the Telegraph Hill Dwellers. “It’s been a longstanding magnet for partying and scary, violent activity. Cleaning up the image of the street is long overdue and welcome.”