Eagle Secures Sound Permit

by Ilan Moskowitz
Tuesday Mar 12, 2013

After a successful re-opening that saw crowds snake around the bar, the SF Eagle received its sound permit from the San Francisco Entertainment Commission Tuesday, March 5.

The unanimous decision means that the Eagle can now have live bands and DJs.

But this does not necessarily mean a full return to form for the 12th Street watering hole in the city's South of Market district. As out Commissioner Audrey Joseph noted, the SF Eagle's sound permit only covers a "fixed-place venue," which means "a building with walls and not [a] patio."

To obtain the permit, the San Francisco Police Department required bar owners Mike Leon and Alex Montiel to meet 16 conditions. Of these, Joseph noted that number eight, "security shall be using identification readers for all patrons," had been "snuck in there" and was not a common stipulation to see on a permit application.

Officer Simon Chan, permits officer for the SFPD's Southern Station, replied that this was because police had "seen a large increase in violent crimes against patrons ... and in many cases these incidents [went] unsolved because [the SFPD were] unable to identify the assailants."

With these ID readers, which, on the low end, can retail for "under $200," Chan said, SFPD can theoretically line up the Eagle's security video with its lists of patrons and identify potential suspects.

Concerns arose among the commissioners regarding the SFPD having a nightly list of the Eagle's patrons, but Chan assured the panel that obtaining the names of the venue's patrons would only be necessary on nights where violent crimes are committed. Additionally, this new ID reader stipulation, Chan noted, is not singling out the gay community, but rather the beginning of a new policy that will henceforth become standard for the SFPD's conditions for club permits.

Gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, who spoke as a patron of the club and not as a city official, said that the Eagle's return was "nothing short of a miracle."

"I encourage you to issue the permit," Wiener said, "and I'll see you at the Eagle."

Neighbors of the club, fellow club owners, and local musicians also spoke at the meeting and expressed how much they loved the club as a fixture not only in the gay and leather communities, but the music community and the San Francisco nightlife scene.

Just before motioning for the permit to be approved, Commissioner Stephen Lee commented that he was "amazed at how much detail [Leon and Montiel] put into the building" and that "they should be applauded."

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