SAN FRANCISCO─On Monday, April 13, the San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and San Francisco Police Chief William Scott disclosed they shut down an underground nightclub after an investigation revealed illegal gatherings in violation of public health orders requiring bars and nightclubs to close to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

In a news release from the City Attorney’s Office, Herrera secured a civil inspection and abatement warrant from a judge on Friday, April 10, to shut down the illegal club for violating San Francisco’s stay-at-home public health order. It is the first such warrant issued in San Francisco to enforce the public health order. Officers from the San Francisco Police Department stationed patrol cars in front of the building, which deterred would-be patrons arriving in cars, taxis, and ride-hailing vehicles from entering. On Saturday, April 11, officers from SFPD’s Tactical Unit and Bayview Station executed the warrant, entered the building and seized DJ equipment, two fog machines, nine gambling machines with $670 in cash inside, two pool tables, bins of liquor, cases of beer, bar furniture, and other nightclub-related items.

The illegal club had been operating out of an industrial building at 2266 Shafter Avenue in San Francisco’s Bayview District.

“This pandemic is deadly serious. People need to treat it that way,” said Herrera. “Education is always the first step, but willfully ignoring health orders is not acceptable. We are going to use every tool at our disposal, including these types of warrants, to protect public health during this pandemic. Cramming dozens of people into an illegal club during this outbreak is like dropping a lit match in the woods during fire season. Who knows how far the damage will spread? It’s the epitome of irresponsibility. I want to thank Chief Scott and the men and women of the San Francisco Police Department for their partnership and swift action to protect public health.  I also want to thank the owner of this property for looking out for public safety, fully cooperating in this investigation, and putting public health first.”

“The operators of this illegal club senselessly put lives at risk in a time when our city is doing everything within our means to slow the spread of this pandemic and safeguard the health and wellbeing of the public,” said Chief William Scott. “Let this case be a reminder that we will take action against those who knowingly violate the public health order and endanger the health and safety of our residents.”

The City Attorney’s Office recently discovered that the tenant of 2266 Shafter Avenue was operating an illegal nightclub. A subsequent investigation produced a time-lapse video from April 4, 2020 to April 6, 2020, which showed more than 150 people entering and exiting the building during the early morning hours. During certain times, the video showed 20 to 30 cars per hour parking or departing from in front of the building.

On April 8, a City Attorney’s Office investigator observed multiple cars coming and going from the property, and groups of people not practicing social distancing entering. Loud music could be heard from inside. This coincides with activity in March 2020 where over 100 people a night entered and exited the establishment where loud music and bright lights were observed inside the building, with security guards present.

A witness interviewed by the City Attorney’s Office indicated they heard five gunshots in rapid succession near the club at around 3:15 a.m. on March 15, and that activity on the nights of April 4 and April 5, was excessive. The building was not permitted for entertainment uses because it lacked proper sprinklers, fire alarms and exits for a building open to the public, according to the attorney for the property owner. According to court documents, the tenant operating the club told the property owner he was using the building to store materials for his janitorial company.

Anyone with information about businesses or others violating the stay-at-home order during this public health emergency, is asked to contact 311. Surveillance video of more than 150 people entering 2266 Shafter Avenue can be viewed here.

Written By Casey Jacobs