SoMa event’s permit reinstated 

An annual electronic music festival that was almost shut down this year because of neighbors’ complaints was revived at a hearing Thursday at the Department of Parking and Traffic.

The seven-year-old How Weird Street Fair, which is held every spring in the South of Market area, was denied its operating permit this year after neighbors complained about the loud music and unruly crowds.

The permit, however, was reinstated Thursday under stricter guidelines. Organizers will have to shut down at 6 p.m. instead of the usual 8 p.m., hire additional parking control officers and develop a system to hear and address residents’ complaints during the festival.

"It’s clear to me that this event is very popular. That’s a good thing, but also a bad thing," said Bon Yee, the director of the DPT. "Your success on attaining future permits will depend on your performance this year."

The City’s Interdepartmental Staff Committee on Traffic and Transportation denied the event operating permits this year after neighboring business owners and residents complained about loud music, traffic and people urinating and damaging property.

The daylong fair is held each year in late April or May on Howard Street between 11th and 12th streets. Last year, about 8,000 people flocked to the event, which is known for its electronic dance music, theatrical performances and crowds of people in bright-colored costumes.

Brad Olsen, director of the World Peace Through Technology Organization that puts on the fair, called for a hearing with Yee, whose department oversees ISCOTT, to appeal the decision.

Olsen said his organization offers residents movie tickets and money to go out to dinner if they dislike the festival. This year, he is offering to put people up in a hotel, too, he said.

"The music we play is not conducive to everyone," he said. "But there are people who love this festival almost religiously."

Residents were not sympathetic. One man said his fish might die because of the loud music. Another woman said her apartment building has been damaged and the trees in front run over at prior festivals.

"The damage is left there for the people who live there," said Kelly Burse, who has lived on Howard Street for 18 years. "I don’t think it’s fair to be bought off so they can have a party in front of my house."

Olsen said he would make the required changes, but he left the hearing disheartened after Yee said the festival may have to move next year to a different location because of its growing size.

"I’m not entirely sure this event can go on now that we have to move it," he said. "Since it is the Howard Street fair, it needs to remain on Howard Street."

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