Street Unfair
Cinco de Mayo, Pride, Folsom Street, Haight Street and Castro Street join forces to fight “half-baked” ordinance

An ordinance adding hundreds of thousands of dollars in increased expenditure for some of the City’s best loved charitable events has drawn sharp criticism from organizers, ignored in it’s drafting. “We should have been consulted as to what the impact might be before being saddled with these additional costs,” said Patricia Aguayo, Executive Director of MECA*. “It’s not that there isn’t a solution which needs to be found. What we’re saying is that no research has been done on what this ordinance will do to the street fairs,” added Bob Goldfarb, President of SMMILE*.

  To demonstrate the point Pablo Heising, Executive Director of the Haight Street Fair and Castro Street Fair said: “We may decide to stop serving alcohol altogether. Even if we do that, there will still be alcohol at our events. People will bring their own plus SFPD will have to monitor illegal sales. The drafters of this ordinance obviously didn’t consider the prospect of pirate vendors, glass bottles and even higher SFPD costs which cannot be recovered from anyone.” The ordinance which goes to the full Board for a vote next Monday mandates full cost recovery for police overtime at street fairs where alcohol is served.

The annual Cinco De Mayo Celebration will be the hardest hit with a potential bill of $50,000. MECA Executive Director, Patricia Aguayo said: “We are already carrying a debt of $100,000, MECA would have to close its doors if faced with the full cost of police overtime.”

Organizers have been told there will be a $100,000 fund to which non-profits unable to afford the new fees may apply. The figure was decided before the impact of the ordinance could be assessed. Organizers have also been unable to discover who will administer the fund or how the figure of $100,000 was calculated. “This just hasn’t been thought through thoroughly,” said Pride Executive Director, Teddy Witherington, adding, “it’s half-baked.”

The measure will directly affect the ability of Folsom Street Fair, Castro Street Fair and Pride to make charitable donations to over seventy non-profits in the City. Steve Gaynes, President of Castro Street Fair said: “Times are tough for us too and the money to pay the increased fees isn’t just going to fall from the sky. Many charities rely on the cumulative income from the street fairs. If that gets reduced, they will have to cut services to their clients and so increase demand on City services. It’s a false economy.”

The first organizers knew of the ordinance was a call from an ally the day prior to the City’s Budget Committee hearing public comment on the matter. The total lack of assessment of the impact of this ordinance, together with the unseemly haste expose serious flaws in the content and the process. Both issues must be addressed if the street fairs are to continue serving our communities and generating funds for our City.

Organizers were also quick to praise the SFPD for their work. All have the highest regard for the level of service they receive from SFPD and enjoy an excellent working relationship.


For further information please contact Teddy Witherington at:  (415) 864 0831

*Mission Economic Cultural Association (MECA) – Cinco De Mayo

South of Market Merchants & Individual Lifestyles Events (SMMILE) – Folsom Street & Dore Alley Fairs