Mega Block Party has authorities planning for chaos on Broadway 

A Mega Block Party planned for North Beach that has the potential to draw thousands of unruly partyers to the troubled stretch of Broadway could bring violence and mayhem, police and neighborhood groups say.

In 2006, Mayor Gavin Newsom and then-police Chief Heather Fong announced a crackdown on the Broadway corridor, where dozens of police officers were called in to work mandatory overtime. The increased security came to an end in December, when police Chief George Gascón pulled the plug on overtime spending for weekend patrols in North Beach in response to a budget shortfall.

Recent violence in the area includes a case in which a car allegedly ran down a pedestrian while driving away from a shooting. The Feb. 19 incident killed San Francisco resident Luis Prieto.

The issue of police staffing for the upcoming Broadway Mega Block Party has police and city officials pressing nightclubs to help pick up the costs of the additional security.

The event, which is planned for May 29, allows people to buy a wristband and have total access to at least eight participating clubs in North Beach — including Fuse, Dragon Bar and Bamboo Hut — according to event promoter Papa Entertainment.

There’s no doubt more police will be on duty the night of the Mega Block Party, but how many more officers The City can afford to deploy is unknown, said Sgt. Dominic Panina, events coordinator from the Central Police Station.

“Broadway is always a concern whether you have a party or not,” Panina said. “It attracts people and gangbangers from all over the Bay Area, which is the problem.”

Capt. Anna Brown of the Central Station, which covers North Beach, said police are talking to the promoter to get an estimate of the number of people who are purchasing tickets. She said police are talking to clubs to see if they would be willing to help pay for extra patrols that night.

Calls to numerous clubs involved in the event were not returned.

Merchants in the area are concerned about the event, saying they want to encourage nightlife, but they are hoping The City will strike a better balance between safety and promoting business.

“We are very concerned about security measures that will be put into place,” said Martin Kirkwood, vice president of the North Beach Chamber of Commerce. “We do not want this to turn into a drunk fest.”

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, whose district covers Broadway, said club owners need to share in the responsibility for safety during the event.

“The City has spent millions of dollars patrolling Broadway and other entertainment corridors,” Chiu said. “We need the club owners who are hosting these events to ensure that their events are safe.”

Event participants may take some security responsibility

On Thursday, members of the Entertainment Commission plan to hold a special meeting with police to discuss how The City can legally regulate the clubs and step up security during the Mega Block Party on Broadway without draining police resources, said Bob Davis, executive director of the commission.

“Police resources are limited,” Davis said. “We need to look for other ways to make sure public safety is taken care of and the venues have some responsibility.”

He said the commission doesn’t regulate promoters. What the commission can do is add conditions to the permits of participating clubs during the event to further address security at each venue, Davis said.

Nightclub security is a sensitive topic for the Entertainment Commission, which has been in the spotlight since February after four people were shot and one was killed at Suede on Fisherman’s Wharf.

Since then, Mayor Gavin Newsom has questioned the commission’s role as a promoter and regulator of entertainment events.

— Erin Sherbert

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