San Francisco to Become First City in California to Create New Entertainment Zones

Authorized under new state law, the first Entertainment Zone will be in Downtown San Francisco on Front Street under Mayor Breed’s legislation approved today. Other EZ locations being considered include Union Square, Mid-Market, and Thrive City.
June 25, 2024

San Francisco, CA – Today, the Board of Supervisors gave final approval to Mayor London N. Breed’s legislation to make San Francisco the first city in the state to create new Entertainment Zones in Downtown and neighborhoods across the City. The legislation is authorized under Senate Bill 76, a bill authored by State Senator Scott Wiener that went into effect this year. Within the new EZs, restaurants and bars will be permitted to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption during outdoor events and activations.     

In May, Mayor Breed announced Front Street, between California and Sacramento streets, as the first entertainment zone to be designated in San Francisco. Today’s approval expands the pilot program to bring additional entertainment zones across the City to permit the operation of the sale of alcohol within the zones. Businesses and organizations across San Francisco have expressed interest in establishing entertainment zones in their areas, including in Union Square, Mid-Market, and Thrive City in Mission Bay. 

“We are focused on bringing opportunities that are good for business but that are also exciting for residents and visitors across our City,” said Mayor London Breed. “Entertainment Zones bring new economic opportunities that will help strengthen San Francisco’s Downtown and neighborhoods citywide. Our local bars and restaurants are an important part of what makes this City unique and fun, and as the first and only city in California to work with this concept, we are thrilled to bring new energy to our City while supporting our small businesses. I want to thank Senator Wiener and all of our partners involved to make this happen.”  

“Our downtown thrives when we bring people into the streets and support the small businesses that make it such a vibrant space,” said Senator Scott Wiener. “We should have a space where San Franciscans can enjoy drinks outside with their loved ones. Entertainment Zones are an idea whose time has come, and I’m delighted to see Mayor Breed and the Board of Supervisors prioritize them so highly.” 

“The approval of the City’s first Entertainment Zone is a major boost for our downtown revitalization efforts,” said Sarah Dennis Phillips, Executive Director of the Office of the Economic and Workforce Development. “This legislation sends a strong signal to our local bars and restaurants that the City is poised to support them as they experiment with new strategies to grow their businesses while bringing more vitality to our public spaces. I can’t wait to see the Front Street Entertainment Zone in full effect and for residents and visitors to experience our Downtown in new and exciting ways.” 

The legislation would designate an approved area to become an entertainment zone, allowing restaurants and bars to sell open beverages for consumption during special events within the zone. Per the ordinance, the designated zone must comply with certain parameters, including 

  • Open beverages sold within the zone must be in an approved non-metal or non-glass container. If authorized by the Board, a zone could include sales of cocktails, beer, and wine. 
  • Only restaurants, bars, breweries, and wineries can sell open containers within an entertainment zone. Liquor stores may not sell open beverages for consumption within the zone and the consumption of alcoholic beverages not purchased from a restaurant or bar within the zone is not permitted. 

San Francisco’s proposed Entertainment Zones build off of Senate Bill (SB) 76, introduced by Senator Wiener and passed at the California Legislature last year. The Entertainment Zone Act paved the way for San Francisco, currently the only city in California to designate entertainment zones to operate during special events permitted by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). Under the bill, San Francisco could establish entertainment zones through the adoption of a local ordinance by the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors.   

Currently, the Mayor’s legislation enables three bars along Front Street (Schroeder’s, Harrington’s, and Royal Exchange) to sell open beverages for consumption during special events in the zone. These bars, along with the Downtown SF Partnership and BOMA San Francisco, are working to launch a new recurring street closure on this block that could involve live entertainment and other activities during the zone’s operation. Similar programs have been successful in supporting small businesses and commercial districts in other states, including Michigan, Ohio, and North Carolina.    

“Seeing small businesses like ours working together on our block to organize new activities and events that will attract people to our local spots is a major milestone,” said Ben Bleiman, Owner of Harrington’s Bar & Grill and President of the Entertainment Commission. “We are telling residents, visitors, and businesses that we are ready to see Downtown San Francisco activated with exciting public spaces because when people have fun it benefits local businesses, Downtown, and the entire city.” 

“Downtown San Francisco needs a nightlife renaissance post-pandemic. Launching California’s first ever entertainment zone on Front Street is significant and will catalyze more reasons to come downtown,” said Robbie Silver, Executive Director of the Downtown SF Partnership. “Rethinking the use of public space by opening streets for pedestrians is a proven economic strategy to reinvigorate downtown. The Downtown SF Partnership will optimize Front Street with fun programming, building off its signature activations like Let’s Glow SF, Drag Me Downtown, and Landing at Leidesdorff.” 

The Office of Economic Workforce and Development (OEWD) will continue to engage with stakeholders, including Market Street Arts, Thrive City and the Union Square Alliance, who have expressed significant interest in pursuing entertainment zones, across City agencies, and with ABC to ensure the successful implementation of this groundbreaking program. 

“Creating an Entertainment Zone in Mid-Market will support local businesses, including large cultural venues, small businesses, and arts organizations by drawing foot traffic, positive media attention, and new programming to the neighborhood,” said Steve Gibson, Executive Director of the Mid-Market Foundation. “Spanning the wide sidewalks on Market Street between 5th and 6th, the Entertainment Zone would add another layer to our larger collective effort, Market Street Arts, a multi-year, public-private initiative working to uplift Mid Market as a world-class arts and entertainment district, a place where creatives from the region, country and around the world come together to inspire joy and connection among the diverse communities that intersect at the center of the City.” 

“Union Square is the heart of San Francisco’s Downtown and we are seeing a wave of energy pour in that is undeniable,” said Marisa Rodriguez, CEO, Union Square Alliance. “Union Square is already a magnet for nightlife and outdoor dining, and with upgrades coming to Powell Street, we are building back stronger than ever. We are excited for the opportunity to explore how entertainment zones can work for Union Square. But if it’s good for our businesses and visitors, then we are all in. The possibilities are endless when you have creative policies that are working for this City.” 

To support activations in entertainment zones and throughout Downtown, Mayor Breed has also directed OEWD to partner with San Francisco New Deal to launch the Downtown ENRG (Entertainment & Nightlife Revitalization Grant) Program, a program that will offer up to $50,000 to fund new economic revitalization projects to support new activities, events, and campaigns to attract patrons and increase downtown activity.    

The creation of entertainment zones and grants program are components of the Mayor’s Roadmap to San Francisco’s Future, and build on a series of recently announced entertainment initiatives designed to showcase and support the San Francisco music and entertainment sector, boost neighborhood vitality, activate open spaces and enhance the City’s economic revitalization through arts and culture. Combined, the goal is to secure an important new source of revenue to boost San Francisco restaurants and bars while transforming Downtown as a 24/7 destination.   

Mayor Breed’s two-year budget proposes investing $15 million for the revitalization of the Union Square and Yerba Buena hospitality districts and the continuation of the Vacant to Vibrant program to address storefront vacancies, which expanded this month to include 11 new pop-up businesses in the East Cut, Financial District, and Yerba Buena.  

In April, Mayor Breed announced the City’s SF Live Concert Series, which debuted on May 4 at the Golden Gate Park Bandshell. Additional events will take place at locations citywide through November. More information about all upcoming SF Live events may be found at The first event as part of the Bhangra and Beats Night Market series this year took place on May 10 and will be back for three additional dates: July 12, September 13, and November 15.