Outdoor movies a growing trend in San Francisco


In San Francisco where backyards are scarce, parks are crucial green space, and for much more than sunbathing. The latest trend is to turn them into movie theaters.

For some time, screenings have been going on for film night at Dolores Park, put on by the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation. Now, smaller parks are getting in on the fun, but getting permission from the city is anything but.

"Right now, it takes 4 to 8 weeks to get a permit for movie night. We are sort of in the same category as Outside Lands and clearly, a little event like movie night in Duboce Park is not in the same scale at all," activist Mark Scheuer told ABC7 News. Twice a year at Duboce Park, they prop a screen next to a house and use electricity from another. Just about everybody shows up.

The Recreations and Park Department says the cost is minimal, around $300. And now, the city is stepping in to try to streamline the approval process. At a hearing Thursday, they decided to make it simple. "You'll be able to come in and say, 'I want to do this.' We'll say, 'You've hit the checkmarks of community outreach, sound levels, and security,' and then we can issue a permit with no staff report or hearing," explained.

That sounds good to Mark Shoyer who says he loves outdoor movie night. "You see your neighbors and there's the element of people participating," he said.

"Usually, it seems like government is adding red tape and it's nice in this instance to be able to take it away," said Sarah Ballard with the Recreation and Parks Department.

There was no opposition at Thursday's hearing so the movie night proposal moves forward with one more bit of bureaucracy -- a full hearing later this month.

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