Businesses use classical music to deter panhandlers

Posted at 7:16 AM, May 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-02 07:16:34-04

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON/CNN) - Some San Francisco business owners are using classical music to keep panhandlers and other people from loitering in front of their stores.

They said it works but not everybody is happy about the music blaring in the street.

Sometimes it's the soothing sounds of a string quartet, or the vigorous playing of violins that comes blaring out of speakers posted on the building housing a Burger King on the corner of Market and Hyde Street.

The owner of the franchise said the Central Market Community Benefit District asked his landlord for permission to pipe out the classical music as a way to deter a problem the sign posted in his window did not.

Loitering and panhandling had been a big problem at this location.

Similar sounds could be heard wafting outside the 7-Eleven on Drumm Street.

That franchise owner confirmed that they started the tactic three days ago as a way to address the same problem.

Another store owner on the same street said the homeless population who tend to hang out here can be bad for business.

“Sometimes people come here to order food,” the business owner said. “When they see a lot of homeless they change their mind. They go somewhere else.”

Regulars at both locations said they have noticed a drop in the number of panhandlers.

“I think it's a good idea, I mean there's a lot of happenings around here,” said one regular. “You got elderly people come in their wheelchairs and everything and all these dudes are sitting around here. That's not cool.”

But one customer said using music to help business is corrupting to the art form.

“If everybody is trying to make money, the sense of that music and the purpose for which it is done is lost,” the resident said.

The executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness called it noise pollution and said the city needs real solutions.

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