San Francisco Chronicle - CITY INSIDER
Masonic Auditorium's plans upset neighbors
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Rapidly mounting opposition may doom the Masonic Auditorium's plans to grow into a big-time entertainment spot on Nob Hill.
Promoter Live Nation wants to add a full-service restaurant for events and additional alcohol service. It also wants to take out some auditorium seats to accommodate standing concertgoers, possibly adding capacity for 200-300 more revelers at the stately California Street location.
Live Nation got initial permission from the city's Department of Building Inspection to do about $760,000 worth of work a few months back. But when apprised of the plans, some neighbors went apoplectic.
A crowd of 250 residents showed up to a neighborhood meeting this week. A new Protect Nob Hill group (protectnobhill.com) hired a PR consultant and a lawyer.
Those neighbors are worried about traffic, noise, drunken rowdiness, too many events, truck loading and the big entertainment tour buses that tend to park near venues.
The hurdle for Live Nation is that it needs special approval from the city's Planning Commission. The rules say the proposed uses should be "necessary or desirable for and compatible with" the neighborhood - criteria that rely heavily on public opinion.