More than 150 people packed into an illegal nightclub in San Francisco during two days of secret partying before authorities shut it down.
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott and City Atty. Dennis Herrera announced Monday that they shut down an underground nightclub for violating the city’s public health order in the first such move to enforce the measure to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
“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 well-being of the public,” Scott said.
San Francisco, which was among the first cities in California to implement a stay-at-home public health order, has seen 15 deaths and 957 residents who tested positive for COVID-19 as of Monday morning.
A time-lapse security video of the club parking lot released by authorities revealed more than 150 people entering and exiting the nightclub during the early morning hours on April 5 and 6. The people captured on the video did not practice six feet of social distancing. During certain times, the video showed 20 to 30 cars per hour park or leave from outside the building.
The underground club operated out of an industrial building at 2266 Shafter Ave. in San Francisco’s Bayview district.
Armed with the evidence, Herrera secured a civil inspection and abatement warrant from a judge on Friday. That night, San Francisco police officers stationed patrol cars in front of the building. Officers from the 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.
“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,” Herrera said
“This pandemic is deadly serious. People need to treat it that way,” Herrera added. “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.”
Investigators saw multiple cars coming and going from the property, and groups of people not practicing social distancing while entering. Loud music could be heard emanating from inside, and on at least two different nights more than 100 people a night entered and exited the building as strobe lights glared out of the building and security guards frisked each visitor, according to investigators.
Beyond concerns about the coronavirus spreading among patrons, the warehouse was not permitted for entertainment uses. It lacked proper sprinklers, fire alarms and exits for a building open to the public.
According to court documents, the tenant operating the club had told the property owner he was using the building to store materials for his janitorial company.
Chief Scott said any illegal partying during the stay-at-home order will be quashed swiftly.
“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,” he said.