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Mayor Seeks End to License Requirement For Poetry Readings

March 30, 1993

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Mayor Frank Jordan is looking for poetic justice in the coffeehouses of San Francisco.

In a city that sustained a generation of Beat poets, the recent enforcement of a city code requiring permits for poetry readings in coffeehouses has spawned an uproar. And the mayor has jumped right in.

″It is an outrage that San Francisco would in any way attempt to regulate poetry by permit,″ he said in a letter to Harry Low, president of the Police Commission. ″Free speech is as important to San Francisco as the fog. For those of us who live through the Beat Generation we say the beat must go on.″

On Monday, Jordan asked the commission to stop enforcing the city code requiring entertainment permits for coffeehouses where poetry is read.

His request came after a meeting with poet Neeli Cherkovski, who has led a repeal campaign.

More than 20 years ago, the Board of Supervisors enacted the section of the police code requiring the permits. Asking the board to conduct a hearing, Jordan said permit fees ″may impose an unreasonable burden on First Amendment rights.″

The uproar arose over the enforcement of the permit at one coffeehouse, the Blue Monkey Cafe. Readings were halted for two months after owner Theresa Strang was told she needed a $638 entertainment permit.

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