High costs jeopardize SF's street festivals

April 13, 2009 7:12:59 PM PDT
San Francisco held two events this Easter weekend with many more fairs and festivals coming up. But the cost of fun is rising, and some are worried that "only in San Francisco" events could become a thing of the past.

SIGN-UP: Get breaking news sent to you

The 'Big Wheel Race' careened down Vermont Street in San Francisco yesterday, but the free show was almost a no-go after police found out organizers did not have a permit.

"If we over-regulate having fun in San Francisco, we'll lose what makes this city so great and what makes people want to live here," said Big Wheel race organizer Tom Price.

Price says the city needs to create a mechanism that allows large groups to gather without someone having to pick up the tab. It's a tab that's ballooning.

Costs can include a $120 application fee to the department of public health, inspection fees for food booths and $87 an hour for each off-duty police officer.

Public Works charges $2,000 to $5,000 for a permit and Muni requires $8 an hour for bus re-routing.

Union Street paid a hefty price to put on its annual Easter parade yesterday, but the president of the Merchants Association says all their neighborhood events are worth it.

"I think it's a great opportunity for businesses, for people that might not ever be here to be here. There are 30,000 people when do we ever get that?" said Leslie Drapkin from the Union Street Merchants Association.

Across town, the 55th Annual North Beach Festival is scheduled for June in Washington Square Park.

The head of that merchants association is not a fan.

"Anything that throws several thousand rowdy drunks into the neighborhood can be a problem," said Kathleen Dooley from the North Beach Merchant's Association.

The festival comes up for city review this week and will face a huge jump in fees.

The Recreation and Parks Department plans to charge $19,000 for a permit -- up from as little as $2,000 a few years ago.

"Ultimately we want festivals in the park. We think they're great, they just need to be done in a reasonable way and cover the costs incurred by the city," said Jared Blumenfeld from the San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department.

Now some are wondering if 'Only in San Francisco' is in jeopardy.

       Today's latest headlines | ABC7 News on your phone
Follow us on Twitter | Fan us on Facebook | Get our free widget


Load Comments