San francisco restaurants

Restaurants in San Francisco reopened last week. But, due to the city’s inaction, many could not serve alcohol.

Board vote results are in – see end of story

At a time when everyone could have a drink or two, many newly reopened San Francisco restaurants found themselves unable to legally serve alcohol after discovering that San Francisco had not yet filed the necessary paperwork with the State of California.

The Mayor of London Breed last Tuesday tweeted that restaurants would be allowed to reopen for outdoor dining on June 12. It was a pleasant surprise for many restaurateurs, who had long anticipated a June 15 reopening. But a good number of restaurants started serving on Friday, seating customers at sidewalk tables or in patio seats.

For restaurants already allowed to serve customers in such settings before the pandemic, everything has apparently gone smoothly. But other restaurants have found themselves in need of a “temporary restoration authorizationfrom the State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

For San Francisco businesses accustomed to a bureaucratic song and dance, it shouldn’t have been also difficult. Just a check for $100 and a trip to the ABC regional office (no credit cards and nothing remote, several restaurateurs attested to Mission Local).

But it turned out not only difficult, but impossible.

Because San Francisco County has not yet filed a local derogation to obtain approval to move into the next COVID-19 phase prior to the statewide resilience roadmap, these liquor licenses cannot be granted. San Francisco Health Officer Tomás Aragón will speak today with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors regarding the filing of this request.

Of the state’s 58 counties, 52 have already made this gesture.

In the meantime, many cash-strapped restaurants in San Francisco cannot legally supply alcohol to their customers, which is one of the most effective ways for restaurants to make money. money, especially when operating with reduced capacity.

“We can’t get our ABC clearance. We can’t get our temporary permit,” says Scoma owner Mariann Costello. “We are trying to figure out who dropped the ball.”

Lauri Thomas, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, adds, “It’s not clear that everyone gets the nuance.” For a restaurant to risk losing its liquor license by flouting the law is no small feat, she says.

race said on KCBS that the application would not be cumbersome; “Don’t worry so much about a permit…we’re not going to come with a pen and a pad giving you citations.” That sounds reasonable, but the ABC is a state agency, not a city agency.

And, confusingly, the San Francisco Police Department Notice on “shared spaces” seems to differ from the city Health ordinance of June 11 on outdoor dining – and keeps outdoor diners and drinkers on a higher level.

The health prescription of Dr. Aragón requires establishments serving alcohol to also “provide” food — what it calls “good faith meals.” In this scenario, an individual could frequent such an establishment and choose to order only a beer or a glass of wine, not food.

The police department, however, places the blame on the individual, not the establishment, and appears to prohibit a beer/wine order only. “Restaurants and bars must be licensed to serve outdoors, bona fide meals must be served (and no alcohol without such meals),” the department notice reads.

A letter of approval from the Supervisory Board must accompany the waiver request sent to the State by Dr. Aragón. This is slated for a vote at today’s meeting – but it seemed odd to several supervisors we spoke with that they were being asked to approve the move without having seen the request first.

The application requires counties to demonstrate that they have met specific criteria regarding the number of COVID-19 cases, hospital capacity, availability of personal protective equipment, as well as research and testing capabilities. contacts. It also asks counties to provide details on how they plan to move into Stage 2, including which industries will be reopened, when, and how those plans differ from the state’s timeline.

Aragón is due to address the supervisors this afternoon. Moving the waiver request forward would require votes from eight supervisors.

Thomas from the GGRA hopes this will happen. Without proper liquor licenses, “restaurants lose thousands of dollars in revenue.”

This question is included in item 28 of today’s Board meeting. This story will be updated with the results of that discussion and the scheduled vote.

Update, 8:26 p.m.: After a seemingly endless litany of firefighters, tax collectors, restaurateurs and – in particular – tattoo artists and tattoo enthusiasts have called for public comments from the Board of Supervisors calling for passage of “Section 28 and Dr. . Aragon(this formula was repeated verbatim) the Council finally took up the matter shortly before 7 p.m.

“We will be joined by Dr. Tomás Aragón, obviously the most important guy in the tattoo business,” board chairman Norman Yee said with a laugh. “I will have to read it again: I thought the law concerned him!

After the required preambles and PowerPoint presentations, supervisor Aaron Peskin posed Aragón a fundamental question. “Do you support this discrepancy?”

“I absolutely support this gap”, Aragon replied.

So there is this.

Supes’ discussion with Aragón sometimes focused on the specifics of what a spread would allow (without one, of great interest, for many callers you can’t open a tattoo parlor – no way, no how). But the frustration was mounting because of what the doctor could not answer.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen asked if a potential increase in COVID cases accompanying the reopening of the economy would eventually result in the removal of residents from Shelter-In-Place hotel rooms in favor of new sick residents.

While the doctor could answer with certainty that the city was within the limits of the rooms set by the state, he could not talk about it. He could only hope to help work out a “mutually acceptable” solution.

“Is there no one from the town hall who can answer these questions? Ronen asked with distinct frustration. “I want to vote on this today, but I don’t want people in their 60s kicked out onto the streets.”

The possibility of a week-long delay on that vote was mooted, but supes were loath to subject the city’s struggling businesses to another week of economic desperation (and, notably, a continued Kafkaesque disconnect between bureaucracies overlapping local and state).

A representative from the mayor’s office later confirmed that there would be no movement of occupants from Shelter-in-Place rooms.

“I continue to be incredibly disappointed with the leadership of the mayor’s office and Dr. Aragón to support our most vulnerable residents who are dying on the streets in far greater numbers than last year. … I hope you will go home and think about it when there are people with very serious health conditions dying in the streets tonight,” Ronen said. “But it’s also important to help businesses that are also dying. So I will support this gap today.

Tattoo this on your bicep: Article 28 passed unanimously.

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