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SF Announces New Outdoor Concert Plan

City just launched free, expedited permits for outdoor entertainment like bands, DJs, outdoor movies & theater
By - posted 9/25/2020 No Comment

Mayor London Breed Announces Program for Outdoor Entertainment and Amplified Sound as Part of City’s Reopening

Friday, September 25, 2020

The Entertainment Commission’s JAM or “Just Add Music” permit will regulate entertainment and amplified sound at Shared Spaces locations, private business property, and other outdoor settings. Permit is available at no cost.

Photo Credit: Twin Peaks SessionsAn all-inclusive DIY music collective, hosting recorded sessions and acoustic shows in Twin Peaks – San Francisco

Mayor London N. Breed today announced a new temporary permit program to ensure safer outdoor entertainment and amplified sound activity as a part of San Francisco’s gradual reopening.

Administered by the Entertainment Commission, the new JAM or “Just Add Music” permit will help businesses, organizations, and individuals hold responsible entertainment activity at Shared Spaces and other outdoor locations consistent with public health rules.

Read the full press release | Learn about SF’s New “JAM” Outdoor Music Permits

The “Old” Permit Process: Expensive & Time-Consuming
Prior to this permit process, businesses that wanted to offer outdoor entertainment or amplified sound at their venue during the COVID-19 pandemic had to either apply for one-day permits—limited to 12 days a year at an expense of hundreds of dollars per day—or pursue a multi-month permitting process that could require an Entertainment Commission hearing.

The New Permit Process: Expedited & Free
The JAM permit program provides a free and streamlined pathway for the arts, entertainment, and nightlife sectors to support their business livelihoods by adding music and other cultural activity in a way that is safe and follows public health guidelines. The JAM Permit application portal is available at sf.gov/jam. The process to apply takes about 30 minutes. Apply for a permit.

There are many limitations including crowd size, limited to 6-hours a day max amplified sound, no singing or brass or wind instruments (which increase aerosol transmission). 

What types of outdoor music/sound will now be allowed?

Here are examples of outdoor activities that need this permit:

  • Live music like a band or DJ
  • Theater, comedy or dance performance
  • Fashion show
  • Amplified speech
  • Amplified sound without a performer, like pre-recorded music or sound on a patio
  • Film/TV screening with amplified sound

Who can apply for outdoor music/sound permits?

The following locations and activities are eligible to apply for a permit:

  • Shared Spaces permit locations
  • Public Works’ Café Tables and Chairs Permit locations
  • Activity on outdoor private business property (e.g., patios, rooftops, parking lots)
  • Farmers Markets
  • Gyms holding outdoor fitness classes
  • Drive-in gatherings

Other Rules

Everyone at the outdoor location must follow all of the City’s safety guidelines:

Rules for performers

  • No singing, shouting, or playing wind or brass instruments. These activities increase the risk of aerosol transmission of COVID-19.
  • All performers and staff have to use face coverings.
  • Each performer must fit in the performance area and keep a distance of at least 6-feet from other people.

Rules for amplified sound

  • You are allowed up to 6 hours per day, including soundcheck.
  • You can’t play outdoor sound equipment before 9 am or after 10 pm.
  • You will need to follow the approved sound limit.

Tips to prevent crowds

  • Ask people who are forming groups or crowds to stop and follow physical distancing guidelines.
  • Keep the area of your activity clean, and revise to-go services and line practices to discourage loitering. 
  • Call 311 if you need help.

The JAM permit comes at a pivotal time for San Francisco businesses, as arts, entertainment, and nightlife businesses are at risk of permanent closure or displacement due to the financial impacts of COVID-19. These businesses and employees have experienced devastating losses of income during the global pandemic. According to a May 2020 survey of 169 entertainment and nightlife industry workers conducted by the Entertainment Commission:

Nearly half of respondents said they had a high amount of concern that their business will need to close permanently due to the financial impact of COVID-19. The majority of those respondents are bars, live music venues, and nightclubs.
In addition, more than half of survey respondents reported having lost between 75-100% of their expected business income and between 75-100% of their expected individual income in 2020.

Given the uncertain course of the pandemic, these losses may continue until a vaccine is available and widely distributed. San Francisco continues to evaluate ways to bring activities, including indoor bars, music venues, performance spaces, and nightlife back safely, but these indoor activities currently remain closed. In the meantime, ensuring that outdoor cultural activity happens safely and in compliance with public health rules provides businesses with an opportunity for additional revenue and could help them survive.

The JAM Permit aligns with and enhances the Shared Spaces program by creating a pathway for businesses to add safe, vibrant cultural activity to outdoor dining and retail spaces. Launched in June, Shared Spaces allows neighborhood businesses to share a portion of the public right-of-way, such as sidewalks, streets, or other nearby public or private spaces for dining and retail activity, as allowed by San Francisco’s Public Health Order. The program allows individual businesses or local merchant associations to apply for a no-cost, expedited permit. The City has issued 1,600 Shared Spaces permits to date.

The San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH) will continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 infection as more of the city population circulates and interacts. DPH will continue to monitor the City’s Key Public Health Indicators to ensure San Francisco’s gradual reopening and allowance of outdoor entertainment and amplified sound activity does not drive a surge in infections and hospitalizations.

Businesses with questions about the permit process should go to sf.gov/jam and can contact the San Francisco Entertainment Commission at: entertainment.commission@sfgov.org, 628-652-6030 with additional questions.