Mayor London Breed Announces Program for Outdoor Entertainment and Amplified Sound as Part of City's Reopening
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.
San Francisco, CA — 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.
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 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.
“This program will provide some much-needed relief for businesses that are looking for ways to safely offer outdoor entertainment and music and survive the economic challenges of COVID-19,” said Mayor Breed. “San Francisco is a world-class entertainment city and we are fortunate to have a diverse entertainment and nightlife culture -- we can’t let COVID take that away from us. We’re adapting our permitting processes to meet this moment and ensure businesses have the guidance they need to operate safely and in compliance with City rules.”
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.
“I am thrilled to launch this program as a part of San Francisco’s safe reopening plans at a time when our beloved arts, entertainment and nightlife businesses need it most,” said Maggie Weiland, Executive Director of the Entertainment Commission. “The JAM Permit creates a legal pathway for businesses to hold responsible, vibrant entertainment activities--and supports their livelihoods and social well-being for all San Franciscans. Our permit holders are creators and curators of our City’s culture, their contributions will amplify our City’s values and resilience.”
“Arts and entertainment will be the main driver of San Francisco’s economic and cultural recovery, not just a part of it,” said Entertainment Commission President Ben Bleiman “JAM permits are a crucial step for the survival of venues, artists, and performers across the city.”
“The recovery of our arts and entertainment sectors are critical to both our economy and our City’s cultural fabric,” said Joaquín Torres, Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “The launch of this program represents a significant step in the City’s safe reopening and creates more opportunities for our communities to enjoy what makes San Francisco hum with life. It’s good for merchants, artists and entertainers who care deeply about enlivening our neighborhoods.”
“We’re really excited for the JAM permit launch,” said Aaron Paul, co-owner of Macondray, a bar and restaurant on Polk Street. “I opened Macondray as a first time small business owner with my business partner Jake Roberts mere months before COVID happened. Over the past several months, we have had no option to move our music offerings outside. The JAM permit will allow us to add music to our outdoor Shared Space, while providing a vibrant and positive experience for our guests.”
“As the owner of Vesuvio in North Beach, I am very grateful the “Just Add Music” permit will allow us to program live music in Jack Kerouac Alley without a cumbersome or expensive bureaucratic process,” said Janet Clyde, owner of Vesuvio. “We look forward to working with our neighbors and the community of San Francisco musicians to make this program a success! Thank you Mayor Breed, Director Weiland, and everyone who made this possible!”
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.
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
Businesses with questions about the permit process should go to sf.gov/jam and can contact the San Francisco Entertainment Commission at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 628-652-6030 with additional questions.