Changes Afoot for Oakland's Cabaret Laws? 

Plus Record Store Day and the opening of all-ages venue X.

Changes to Oakland's cabaret laws took a step closer to reality after being discussed by the Public Safety Committee on Tuesday evening and will now go to the City Council for approval. As we previously reported, the changes — first proposed by Councilmembers Nancy Nadel and Rebecca Kaplan in October — aim to smooth the process for businesses opening up in Oakland, lessen the permit costs for small businesses, and ease the burden for police regarding late-night activity. After input from the city administrator's office and Oakland police, the amended proposal includes changing the definition of "cabaret" to exclude restaurants with live music, increasing the cabaret permit renewal fee for the redefined businesses and lowering the price for small ones, outlining the process and timeline for certain businesses to gain extended hours, and detailing the fee for those extended-hours businesses.

According to the report submitted to the Public Safety Committee, a cabaret would be redefined as "any place where the general public is admitted for a fee, entertainment is provided, and alcohol is served. A place that does not charge for admission but where the general public is admitted, alcohol is served, dancing is permitted, and the venue operates past 12:00 a.m. shall also be construed as a cabaret." Restaurants that hold live music as an accompaniment to dining would be excluded from this definition.

Cabarets must also abide by certain conditions in the new guidelines. For example, those that don't meet the required building, fire, and police codes will be reported to the Nuisance Abatement Division, which did not exist when the cabaret ordinance was first adopted. While cabarets with occupancy of more than fifty would be charged an annual $750 fee, an increase from $300, those smaller would be charged $250 annually. Small cabarets also would be exempt from initial application fees.

The extended-hours permit was one of the biggest items of contention for police, who believed that allowing businesses to stay open longer would create more of a headache for them. The idea was initially proposed as a way to allow patrons to sober up after 2 a.m. instead of jumping in their cars. In a two-year pilot program, the permit would allow no more than ten businesses to stay open as late as 5 a.m. but would not allow the sale of alcohol during that time. The Office of the City Administrator and the police would review and approve the applications, awarded only to downtown and Uptown businesses in good standing. The application period would begin May 31 and end June 11.

The ordinance's sponsors hope to generate more revenue for the city, not just by the added sales tax from having more cabarets and businesses that can stay open later. Extended-hours permits would include a $1,000 application fee, and a permit fee starting at $2,000 for businesses with occupancy of less than 250, and increasing $500 for every 50 people, with a maximum of $5,000. They estimate that the city will generate $60,000 in additional revenue from these permits. They expect the cabaret permit to generate about $16,000 annually. Currently, about 53 businesses are permitted as cabarets in the city, and of those, about ten to fifteen would no longer be required to pay a cabaret fee under the new rules. The rest would qualify for the $750 fee.

Exene Touts Record Store Day

Saturday, April 17, is Record Store Day, an annual event in which music lovers are implored to shop at their local mom-and-pop record stores and help promote independent music. But it's not just about forking over cash; Record Store Day has grown into an excuse to celebrate all things indie, including special in-store performances and promotions. Among the day's events are Exene Cervenka performing at 1-2-3-4 Go! Records in Oakland (1 p.m.) and Charlotte Gainsbourg signing CDs at Amoeba in San Francisco (noon). For a full list of participating stores, go to

Ludicra's Tour Woes

First, the local black metal band had to deal with its tour-mates, Mayhem, canceling its US tour in January; then when Ludicra managed to reschedule dates to headline on its own, guitarist John Cobbett's appendix ruptured and he had to undergo surgery on the second day of the tour. The band had to cancel some dates until Cobbett rejoined them on Tuesday, but the band is asking for help with donations to pay Cobbett's medical bills (like so many musicians, he doesn't have health insurance). Pals Wolves in the Throne Room (who play Slim's on April 16 with Earth) are accepting donations on behalf of the band. Send via Paypal to (donations of $300 or more get WITTR's three full-length albums on CD as well as the Malevolent Grain EP).

Miscellaneous Debris

The annual Treasure Island Music Festival, organized by Another Planet Entertainment and Noise Pop, has announced the dates for this year's event: October 16 and 17. The lineup is yet to be announced. ... Green Day's Rock Band video game (release date June 8) begins and ends in the East Bay: The first venue looks like 924 Gilman and the closer is at the Fox Theater. ... And the Express celebrates the grand opening of its venue, X (630 3rd St., Oakland) on Saturday, April 17, with the Zeros, the Mutants, and No Alternative. 9 p.m., $18.


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