SFPD crackdown curbs Broadway crime, drunks 

Crime and drunken mayhem has slowed on the bustling Broadway Street corridor in North Beach that many of The City’s largest nightclubs call home after San Francisco police beefed up enforcement.

In the past, on Friday and Saturday nights, it was common for police to arrest about 20 people on the corridor, mostly for assault, robbery and drunken behavior, San Francisco police Capt. Jim Dudley said.

A crackdown on crime, however, has significantly curbed illegal activity on the street. While thousands of clubgoers still flock to the corridor every weekend, Dudley said police are now averaging three alcohol-related arrests on Friday and Saturday nights, and assaults and robberies are almost nonexistent.

"With the increased presence and our operational plan," Dudley said, "we’ve seen a dramatic decrease in drunken and rowdy behavior."

Both Dudley and Jim Schein, president of the North Beach Merchants Association, said Broadway between Columbus Avenue and Montgomery Street — with adult-entertainment clubs, dance clubs with cheap drink specials and bars with blaring music lining the corridor — has been a recipe for disorderly conduct.

After the clubs close, fights, robberies and public drunkenness take over the strip. Residents and business owners began sounding off about the situation last year.

Since then, San Francisco police have increased their presence on the corridor on weekend nights: There is now a police van with 12 to 14 officers, as well as motorcycle and plainclothes officers, patrolling the street.

There are also new no-stopping zones, which deter "party buses" from unloading drunken passengers into the clubs. If clubs at capacity admit people from party buses, they are cited, Dudley said.

Reaction to the police presence has been mixed.

"In the initial short term, it’s hard to determine the gains," said Schein, who owns Schein and Schein, an antique maps salon on Grant Avenue. "But in the long term, it’s changing the culture here. People are planning for the future, and there’s a real concerted effort to take control of the backyard."

The street continues to face larger problems with club owners who fail to control unruly crowds, admit too many people and serve alcohol to minors or to adults who are already intoxicated, police say.

Last month, the San Francisco Entertainment Commission voted to shut down the Zebra Lounge for 30 days because the club’s owner, Isaac Lee, couldn’t control the crowds outside the club.

arocha@examiner.com

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