City officials today (Thursday, March 25) approved permits for two of San Francisco’s more notorious street events. The decision to grant permits to both the Up Your Alley Fair and Folsom Street Fair, which both cater to the leather and S/M crowd, came without the controversy last year that derailed what had been a fairly routine process.
Police blindsided organizers of the fairs last spring with complaints that officers assigned to patrol the 2008 events had been hit with citizen complaints for allowing sex to occur in public. The revelation at what is known as ISCOTT, which stands for the Interdepartmental Staff Committee on Traffic and Transportation, threw into doubt the future of the two fetish events.
The oversight panel postponed approval of the 2009 permits for both fairs until after organizers could address the police concerns. The negotiations resulted in a stronger anti-lewd-behavior policy the fairs adopted, which warned attendees they would be ejected from the fairgrounds for engaging in public sex.
While the compromise upset some longtime attendees of the fair, it allayed police concerns and ISCOTT granted the permits. Last year’s events generated little trouble amongst fair-goers; the only incidents of note occurred with anti-gay protesters stationed at one of the entrances to the Folsom Street Fair.
Unsure of what reception the fairs would receive at this year’s ISCOTT hearing, Folsom Street Events Executive Director Demetri Moshoyannis came armed with close to a dozen supporters. He told the panel that the plans put into place last year had worked.
“We worked with the SFPD on a new security plan. It was a success based on the expectations of the SFPD,” he said.
One area of concern raised last year had to do with guests at private parties in the upper stories of buildings lining Folsom Street who would ejaculate out the windows or put on sex acts. To address the behavior, Moshoyannis said he contacted the building manager for the apartment complex known to cause most of the incidents so the person could alert residents to the fair’s harsher sex policy.
“He issued a letter to all residents to notify them they needed to make sure it doesn’t happen. We didn’t have a problem with that building,” said Moshoyannis.
This year the police raised no objections to granting the fair permits, and apart from a health department staffer who questioned the fairs’ food preparation and cleanup policies, no one spoke out against granting the permits. Local blogger and gay activist Michael Petrelis did suggest the fair create a “sex tent” so that consensual oral sex could take place between adults.
“We are talking about thousands of people from around the world who come to San Francisco for S-E-X. Let’s be mature about it,” Petrelis said at the hearing.
ISCOTT members, however, said nothing about allowing a sex tent. And the panel did not fall for the stalling tactics of one Dore Alley resident who for years has been a thorn in the side of Folsom Street Events, the nonprofit group which oversees both street festivals.
Jakkee Bryson has long opposed both fairs and has a reputation for knowing how to manipulate the city’s permit approval process.
One strategy she often uses is to claim she can not attend a hearing and requests a postponement. And at 8:30 a.m. this morning she contacted an ISCOTT staffer and made such a request.
But the ISCOTT panel denied the delay and unanimously granted both fairs’ permits.
The Up Your Alley Fair, commonly known as the Dore Alley Fair, takes place Sunday, July 25 this year. The Folsom Street Fair takes place Sunday, September 26.