That’s why the Board of Supervisors this week approved a resolution that would exempt two businesses — one a yet-to-be opened bar in the Castro, another a screen printing shop in Cole Valley — from a section of police code limiting what it calls “mechanical amusement devices.”
Supervisors Scott Wiener and London Breed, whose districts include the businesses, proposed the exemption and said they now want to look at whether the code is obsolete and should be repealed. Wiener said the code is one of many affecting bars, restaurants and other businesses that may have made sense at the time but now seem bizarre. For example, two years ago he authored legislation to repeal outdated restaurant codes that, among other things, prevented some cafes from toasting the bagels they sold or serving ice cream in a cone (cups were all right).
“It almost seems like a kitschy thing now, but it’s part a of a broader theme,” Wiener said. “If you look at businesses and restaurants these days, there is so much variation, so much creativity — sometimes the municipal code doesn’t take into account the positive aspects of allowing businesses flexibility to offer products and services.”
The Cole Valley business, Free Gold Watch, offers T-shirt and other printing services as well as a number of pinball machines. The arcade games were flagged by the Entertainment Commission as possibly violating the police code. Neighbors love the arcade, however, and submitted dozens of letters in support, according to Breed’s office.
The soon-to-be opened Castro bar will be located on the northwest corner of Market and Sanchez streets at the location that formerly housed Leticia’s, a Mexican restaurant. Wiener said the owners, who also own the nearby Blackbird Bar, want to make it an arcade-themed watering hole. Since the police code actually restricts the number of arcade games by the businesses square footage, Wiener said they would be limited to three or four without the exemption.
If the supervisors author legislation to repeal the police code, they would probably still require business owners who want to host arcade games to apply for a special permit, he added.