Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

SF AIDS activist Jason Villalobos leaving town

San Francisco resident Jason Villalobos, who turned his being a spokesmodel for the Greater Than AIDS campaign into a platform to speak out about HIV prevention and question local AIDS agencies’ policies, is saying goodbye to the Bay Area. His last day will be Friday, August 31.

In an announcement he posted to his Facebook account Sunday, August 19, the 33-year-old gay Castro resident disclosed his decision to temporarily move back to his hometown of Lompoc in Santa Barbara County. He predicted he would only be gone for several months, indicating a likely return to the city-by-the-bay.

“Do I have concerns about being an openly HIV positive gay man in Small Town, America? Sure I do. What the heck am I going to do there? Stay tuned,” he told his nearly 1,300 friends on the social website. “Where am I going to live? I’ll be moving in with my family for a little while and then I’ll take it from there. This may seem drastic, but all I can think about is how glad I’ll be to have my grandma near me.”

The decision came as somewhat of a shock, considering that his relationship with his parents has been strained since he disclosed to them his HIV status. As he told the Bay Area Reporter during a 2011 interview, his father, a local police officer, and his grandfather, a sheriff’s deputy, did not respond well to the news.

But in January he wrote on Facebook that he had received a note from his father after seeing Villalobos’ TV commercial for the AIDS campaign. In it his dad said that he was proud of his son for having the courage to be so public.

“It’ll be interesting how I transition back to having a relationship with my parents, to living in the hometown I ran away from 13 years ago, and seeing old, dear friends,” Villalobos wrote in his note over the weekend. “Maybe I’ll even get fat (I don’t know!) All I know for sure is that it wont be boring.”

In an interview conducted via Facebook today (Thursday, August 23), Villalobos said that one factor in his decision was that he is “bored,” having spent 9 years in San Francisco, and is looking for a change.

“I can’t work dressing rich people for the rest of my life,” said Villalobos, who worked for Union Square retail stores such as Fred Segal. “I need to get out and see if I really miss this place-if my body longs for the bay, I’ll be back. If not? Then I’ll return to pack up the rest of my belongings and move on to new adventures. I’m only 33 years old and there’s still a big bad world out there waiting for my arrival.”

Over the years Villalobos became more vocal about his concerns over HIV prevention funding cuts and how AIDS agencies spent their money. A longtime participant in the San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s AIDS/Lifecycle fundraiser, Villalobos publicly chastised the agency this past April over its fiscal priorities.

Taking to Facebook, he questioned the need to pay SFAF CEO Neil Guiliano $249,000 after a B.A.R. story pointed out that the top six salaries at the agency totaled more than $1.1 million.

“I’ve always been critical of the salaries the top executive officers at San Francisco AIDS Foundation receive and their severe lack of actual HIV positive employees,” he wrote. “I love the staff at SFAF, I love The Ride, but I’ve never liked how they spend their money.”

The comment prompted a reply from SFAF spokesman James Loduca. In defending the agency, Loduca wrote that he felt Villalobos was “working with outdated or inaccurate information” about SFAF’s hiring practices related to HIV-positive people and others with disabilities, as well as how it invests donations.

His outspokenness came at a price, contends Villalobos.

“HIV/AIDS organizations won’t even give me an interview – I’m shut out.,” he said.

Nonprofits were not Villalobos’ only targets. As a board member of the progressive Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, politicians often were caught in his sites.

He has been particularly critical of bisexual District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague, telling his Facebook friends that if he lived in the Haight or Western Addition he would not vote for Olague come November.

Where ever Villalobos ends up, it is likely that he will have more to say about the service agencies and elected leaders there.

“I’m going away to either wake myself up to how much I love it here or to finally accept that’s it’s time to finally move on,” Villalobos told the B.A.R.


— Matthew S. Bajko, August 23, 2012 @ 5:55 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

DA Gascón, gay leaders work to defeat anti-immigrant Arizona sheriff

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, several gay community leaders, and others are hosting a fundraiser aimed at defeating Joe Arpaio, the longtime sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, in his bid for re-election this November.

Joe Arpaio (Photo: Arpaio campaign)

Arapaio, whom Gascón recently called “a national leader in anti-immigration efforts,” is being sued by the federal government over claims he’s violating people’s constitutional rights.

Gascón, who came to the U.S. from Cuba when he was a boy, and Arpaio have been foes for years. Gascón served as police chief of Mesa, Arizona (which is in Maricopa County) before he became San Francisco’s police chief and then district attorney.

The “Fundraiser to give Sheriff Arpaio the Boot” will benefit Arpaio’s opponent, Paul Penzone, a former Phoenix police officer.

Along with Gascón, the event will feature local out elected officials Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) and Supervisor David Campos.

“San Francisco is the kind of place we should be thinking about raising funds for this election,” Gascón said earlier this month. He said Arpaio’s “style of policing has violated people’s constitutional rights for years.”

It’s “a horrendous situation that’s been allowed to exist, and it shouldn’t,” he said.

Arpaio has been an ardent supporter of Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, the law that encourages police to determine the immigration status of people they suspect are in the country illegally. Critics have said it promotes racial profiling.

When he was Mesa’s police chief, Gascón complained to the administration of then-President George W. Bush about Arpaio. In May, the Justice Department filed a complaint against Arpaio, the sheriff’s office, and Maricopa County saying that Arpaio and his department “have engaged and continue to engage in a pattern or practice of unlawful discriminatory police conduct directed at Latinos in Maricopa County and jail practices that unlawfully discriminate against Latino prisoners with limited English language skills.”

Among other points, the complaint also says the defendants’ violations of the Constitution “are the product of a culture of disregard” against Latinos “that starts at the top and pervades the organization.” For example, jail employees “frequently refer to Latinos as ‘wetbacks,’ ‘Mexican bitches,’ and ‘stupid Mexicans,'” the filing says.

Ammiano said he’s “happy” to contribute to the effort to defeat Arpaio.

“We all know about this guy’s history, and I’m involved currently with the immigrant rights movement,” he said, pointing to his Assembly Bill 1081, which his office says “is sometimes known as the anti-Arizona bill.”

AB 1081 is designed to provide clear guidelines to local law enforcement agencies on when not to submit to immigration holds from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, while still allowing holds for those convicted of serious or violent felonies. The bill is expected to reach Governor Jerry Brown soon for his signature.

Ammiano said he’s sure Arpaio is “as homophobic as he is racist. … All that goes hand in hand.”

In 2010, when SB 1070 was signed into law, Campos and others called for a boycott of Arizona. Asked  in a recent interview about his support of Penzone against Arpaio, Campos said, “I think it’s really important for people from all over the country to get involved in a race that involves some fundamental issues of civil rights.

“Sheriff Arpaio has been an individual who has made a point of targeting an entire group of people, and in the process he has violated basic principles of due process and equal rights,” he said. “I think that it’s important for those of us who care about the welfare of justice and fairness to get involved and say an individual who engages in this kind of conduct should not be reelected.”

An emailed request to interview Arpaio was quickly declined, but he shares his thoughts on immigration in a Rolling Stone profile, in which Gascón is also quoted.

Paul Penzone (Photo: Penzone campaign)

In responses to questions emailed to a spokeswoman, Penzone spelled out his opposition to SB 1070.

The law “was written in a self-serving, political vacuum,” he said. “Any legislation that directly impacts law enforcement’s ability to do its job should require input from the law enforcement community itself. I am committed to returning the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to one that is focused on public safety, not publicity.”

Penzone also spelled out his support for LGBTs.

“I believe everyone should be entitled to the same rights, privileges and opportunities under all laws, including those that govern marriage,” he said. “Laws should be blind to age, race, creed, color, sex, national origin, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Neil Giuliano, who in 1996 came out as gay while serving as mayor of Tempe, Arizona and is now CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, is also co-hosting tonight’s event. In a Facebook exchange, Giuliano said he got involved at Penzone’s request.

“He is very qualified for the job, will be a great Sheriff, and it is beyond time for a new chief law enforcement officer for Maricopa County in Arizona,” Giuliano said.

Even former Police Commissioner David Onek, who ran against Gascón for district attorney last November, is joining in tonight’s effort.

In an email blast, Onek said, “Joe Arpaio must go. … Penzone is a decorated officer who knows what it takes to fight crime and keep his community safe – without discriminating against any members of that community. He needs our support!”

Tonight’s fundraiser is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Mission Language and Vocational School, 2929 19th St., San Francisco.

Tickets are available at $100 (guest), $250 (sponsor) and $430 (co-host). Arizona’s campaign laws limit an individual’s maximum contribution to $430 or $860 per married couple.

Donations can also be made at Penzone’s campaign website.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 5:50 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Traffic changes proposed for Church St. stretch

In an effort to speed up buses and Muni cars traveling along Church Street near the Safeway shopping center, city transportation officials want to restrict car access along a portion of the busy thoroughfare.

Under a pilot project set to begin in September, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency would designate Muni and taxi only lanes along three blocks of Church Street between 16th Street and Duboce Avenue.

The car-free lanes would be in place during weekday hours. Left turns from Church Street at 15th and 16th streets would also be restricted in both directions during the designated times.

The aerial map at left shows where the car-free lanes, which would be painted red, would be installed and the intersections where cars would be restricted from making left hand turns.

Traffic planners say the new rules are aimed at reducing delays and improving service reliability for Muni’s J-Church trains and 22 Fillmore buses. The thinking is that the new rules would allow Muni vehicles to bypass traffic congestion and access transit stops faster.

The proposal is a component of the Transit Effectiveness Project, a comprehensive effort to improve reliability and provide quicker trips for Muni customers citywide. The J-Church line is notorious for having some of the slowest run times of any Muni route in the city.

SFMTA planners will hold an informational meeting about the proposed Church Street changes at 6:30 p.m., Monday, August 27 in the Gazebo Room on the CPMC Davies Campus, 45 Castro Street.

A formal hearing on the proposed pilot project will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, August 31 in room 416 of City Hall. If approved, the changes would be put in place sometime next month.

Anyone in need of more information about the pilot project can call 415-701-4717.


— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 4:35 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gay CA Assembly speaker tapped to lead national speakers’ group, host 2013 meeting

California Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, the first out lawmaker elected to such a post in the lower body of a state legislature, has now been tapped to serve as the first openly LGBT president of the National Speakers Conference.

The professional group for speakers of state Houses and their chiefs of staff elected Perez (pictured at the lectern in the photo at left) as its president Sunday, August 19. He will serve a customary one-year term and will host the 2013 National Speakers Conference Annual Meeting in Los Angeles.

In a statement released this week, Perez said he was “deeply honored” to be elected and is “very much looking forward” to working with his colleagues from across the country in the new position.

“As Speakers, each of us is privileged to serve the people of our states, and each of us has the opportunity to work with the members of our respective Legislatures to put forward policies addressing the crucial challenges facing our country, especially on job creation and renewing opportunities for middle class families, and it’s an honor to be able to serve in a position that will allow me to work with other Speakers on those critical issues,” stated Perez, who turns 43 in September.

Perez (D-Los Angeles) was elected speaker by his Democratic colleagues back in December of 2009 and was installed into the post in March of 2010. Around the same time Gordon D. Fox became Rhode Island’s first black and openly gay House Speaker in its state Legislature.

The first out state lawmaker to lead a legislative chamber is believed to be gay Minnesota state Senator Allan Spear. In 1994 Spear was elected president of his state’s Senate chamber and became the highest ranking out politician in any state or federal legislative body, according to the 1999 book Trailblazers: Profiles of America’s Gay and Lesbian Elected Officials by Ken Yeager, a gay man who now serves on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

Lesbian Oregon state Representative Tina Kotek could make history this year by becoming the first lesbian speaker of any statehouse in the United States. As the B.A.R. noted in July, the Democrats are expected to be the majority party in the Beaver State’s lower legislative chamber following the November election and set to elect Kotek to lead them.

Perez, like his fellow Assembly members not termed out of office this year, is up for re-election in November. He is expected to easily win his race for the Assembly District 53 seat.

It will be his final two-year term as he was first elected in 2008 and is termed out of the Assembly in 2014.



— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 3:46 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

City names new GM for SF PUC

For the first time in more than a decade San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission will not be run by a gay or lesbian general manager.

Mayor Ed Lee and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission announced late today (August 22) the appointment of Harlan L. Kelly, Jr. (seen at right) as the successor to retiring General Manager and former City Controller Ed Harrington.

The openly gay Harrington, who succeeded two lesbian GMs at the PUC, had informed Lee at the beginning of the year of his intention to step down in August. In a March interview with the Bay Area Reporter, Harrington said he plans to focus on constructing a home office and art studio on the Sonoma County property he and his husband, artist Dan Scannell, own near the Petrified Forest in Calistoga.

By leaving the job ahead of the fall election, Harrington will now be free to publicly campaign against Proposition F,  the November ballot measure that calls on San Francisco to drain its reservoir in Hetch Hetchy Valley inside Yosemite National Park. A commission would have until 2016 to come up with a plan for a different site to store the water behind O’Shaughnessy Dam that would then go before voters for approval.

Current city employees are restricted from campaigning for or against ballot measures. Kelly, the SFPUC’s assistant general manager for infrastructure, is thus barred from directly addressing the fight over Prop F.

He does have intimate knowledge about the High Sierra gravity-based system that San Francisco built to provide it with drinking water. Kelly has overseen the $4.6 billion voter-approved seismic upgrade of the Hetch Hetchy Water System and is currently leading the development of the upcoming multi-billion Sewer System Improvement Program.

“After a long and exhaustive nationwide search, I am proud to join the SFPUC in selecting Harlan Kelly as the next SFPUC General Manager,” stated Lee. “Harlan has shown tremendous commitment and leadership at the SFPUC as Assistant General Manager and in his role in delivering our City’s most vital capital improvement programs, which collectively, are delivering our City’s water, sewer and power to the region. I know that Harlan will continue the good work of Ed Harrington who has left a lasting impact not just at SFPUC, but on our entire City.”

Harrington’s last day is expected to be September 21. Kelly would likely start soon after, but he still has to enter into negotiations over his contract with the PUC.

A graduate of UC Berkeley and a licensed professional engineer, Kelly lives in San Francisco with his wife, Naomi, and their two young sons.


— Matthew S. Bajko, August 22, 2012 @ 5:20 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF LGBT senior housing project wins approval for second time

Four years after San Francisco officials signed off on a mega-housing project that will include units designated for LGBT seniors, planning officials for the second time voted to approve the infill development.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously late this evening (Thursday, August 16) to accept several design changes that the project sponsors made in response to concerns from nearby residents and historic preservationists.

Known as the 55 Laguna project, it will include 330 new multi-family rental units and 110 units of LGBT-friendly housing for low-income seniors. There will be a community center, community garden and a public park open 24 hours.

“This is the kind of mixed-use housing San Francisco needs,” Marcy Adelman, Ph.D., Openhouse’s founder, told commissioners.

Openhouse, an agency focused on LGBT seniors, and Mercy Housing California are working together to build the senior housing, which will also include Openhouse service offices and an activity center for both residents and LGBT seniors from across the city.

Wood Partners is managing the multi-family development, which, pending final confirmation from the Mayor’s Office of Housing, is expected to include 50 units of housing for low-income renters.

The sloping development site is located in the lower Haight neighborhood a block off Market Street. The city’s LGBT Community Center is also nearby and the Castro LGBT district is a short walk away.

Some of the changes to the site layout will see the newer buildings constructed further apart from the existing historic structures, which had been a satellite campus for UC Berkeley, and less vehicular traffic on-site with 310 parking spaces mostly underground. The developers also have tweaked the buildings facing Haight Street to enliven the sidewalk and address safety concerns.

Housing activists did express concern that an agreement on including the 50 affordable housing units on-site has yet to be finalized. City officials had debated if the language should allow for a range of 32 to 50 units.

“My organization will not support it if it is a range,” Peter Cohen, with the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association, told the commission.

Brian Basinger, with the AIDS Housing Alliance, also raised objections to seeing anything less than 50 below market rate units be included on site.

“I hope you oppose any efforts to water this down,” he told the commissioners.

Commissioner Michael Antonini, however, said he was comfortable with allowing some leeway in the language regarding the BMR units so the developers have “some flexibility with the intent to do what is being presented.”

Otherwise he feared such a stringent requirement could derail the project.

“If nothing gets built nobody gains,” he said.

The developers told the commission they would not object to having language requiring them to build 50 BMRs onsite as there is financing in place to build them. The commissioners set a date of September 20 for them to vote on the final language regarding the BMR units.

As for the overall design, Antonini said he was happy to see the development “move along” as he believes it is an “excellent project.” Though he did call for some tweaks to the design of the Openhouse buildings, which one speaker derided as looking too much like a Holiday Inn.

Seth Kilbourn, Openhouse’s executive director, said the final look of the buildings has not been determined.

“We are still working with the city to refine the design,” he said.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more coverage on the project and its funding in next week’s issue.


— Matthew S. Bajko, August 16, 2012 @ 6:20 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

California commission fines Prop 8 backers

California’s Fair Political Practices Commission has approved a $49,000 fine against, the backers of the state’s Proposition 8 same-sex marriage ban.

The 4-0 vote came this morning (Thursday, August 16) at the commission’s monthly meeting. The fine is for campaign reporting violations.

Protect Marriage helped raise millions of dollars to support the anti-gay measure, which state voters passed into law in November 2008.

The FPPC case originated as a Franchise Tax Board audit. – Yes on 8, A Project of California Renewal, a state primarily formed committee, and its treasurer, David Bauer, failed to file late contribution reports in a timely manner, according to the commission.

Protect Marriage also failed to file contributions of $5,000 or more in a timely manner, failed to properly dispose of an anonymous $10,000 contribution received in October 2008, and failed to disclose occupation and/or employer information regarding people who contributed $100 or more, among other violations, the state panel said.

Andy Pugno, Protect Marriage’s attorney, wasn’t available for comment.

Gloria Nieto, a lesbian in San Jose who helped coordinate efforts in the South Bay to oppose Prop 8, called the fine inadequate and said the backers of the antigay measure should have to pay a larger amount.

“That’s a wrist slap if I ever saw one,” Nieto told the Bay Area Reporter.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:03 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Castro business group approves mixed-use projects

Several proposed building projects featuring mixed retail and residential uses were recently approved by business leaders in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood.

2175 Market Street

Developers want to build a project with 88 residential units and three to four retail spaces at  2175 Market Street, near 15th Street. The corner is currently the site of a 76 gas station. All of the units would be rental.

Members of the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro group are generally skittish about chain retail operations moving into the neighborhood.

Katie O’Brien, of Forest City Development, told the merchants, “We are not seeking conditional use authorization for formula retail,” although she left open the possibility that project backers may do so later.

O’Brien said it was “very important” to her that the commercial spaces would house local businesses. She recalled going to Café DuNord when she was in college, and she said, “I have hella respect for this neighborhood.” Her husband’s been a restaurant owner in San Francisco, she said.

She also said she’s been marketing the development to prospective commercial tenants, and so far two have shown interest.

The apartments would be “a bit on the smaller size,” O’Brien said, with 2-bedroom units ranging from 900 to 1,100 square feet. She said the project would meet the city’s requirement that 15 percent of new units be priced below market rates by placing those units on site.

The project is set to go before the Planning Commission in early September.

8 Octavia Street

Another project approved by MUMC members Thursday, August 2 was a mixed-use building proposed for 8 Octavia Street, at Market Street. The proposed site is a vacant spot across the street from the San Francisco LGBT Community Center.

Mark McDonald, of DM Development, said the “elegant” and “translucent” building would serve as a “gateway” for people coming off U.S. Highway 101, which has a ramp across the street from the site.

The building would have eight stories on Market Street. Along with 49 for-sale residential units with one to three bedrooms, and several courtyards, there would also be room for retail.

“We would really like to bring a local restaurant into this space,” such as the nearby Zunni Café, McDonald said. Below market rate units would be available on site, he said.

They’re hoping to break ground by the end of 2012 and complete it by the beginning of 2014.

Only one MUMC member cast a voted in opposition to the project.

A Planning Commission hearing on whether to grant conditional use authorization for the development is “most likely” set for September 6, according to McDonald.

376 Castro Street

The final proposed development discussed at the meeting was another proposed mix-use building, this one at 376 Castro Street, near the neighborhood’s iconic rainbow flag.

There would be around two dozen residential units, with affordable housing built on site. The building would also include two to three units of retail space.

The presentation by architect Mitchell Benjamin hit a snag when MUMC President Terry Asten Bennett, general manager of Cliff’s Variety, asked, “How come we’re only hearing from you today?”

Benjamin said that another neighborhood group had been tasked with contacting other organizations in the neighborhood about the project but had apparently failed to do so.

Auto Erotica owner and MUMC member Patrick Batt said that was “an absurd excuse.”

Soon, the meeting took on a distinctly MUMC flair, with remarks that are hard to imagine hearing anywhere else.

One man who offered a complaint about the proposed development referred to the site, which currently houses a gas station, as “beautiful open space.”

Someone else said the plans for the building didn’t say “Castro.”

Benjamin said, “How do you make a building gay, in theory?” He offered that the design could include “brighter, fresher, sunnier” colors.

Andrea Aiello, executive director of the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District offered some help, saying, “We’re not voting on the color of the building, at this point.”

Shortly after gaining overall approval from MUMC (six members voted against it), the project backers went to the city’s Planning Commission to get conditional use authorization to convert the site from a gas station.

In response to emailed questions afterward, Benjamin said commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the project.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, August 13, 2012 @ 1:48 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

DA Gascón expands neighborhood courts program

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón recently announced that each of the city’s 10 police stations now has a neighborhood prosecutor, marking a milestone in an effort to resolve many non-violent crimes quickly, before they go to traditional court,

Gascón said the spread of the neighborhood courts signifies “the evolution of a process that started a year and a half ago.” He unveiled the courts program, which started in the San Francisco Police Department’s Mission Station, in May 2011.

During 2011, about 400 cases were handled through the neighborhood courts, Gascón told reporters Thursday, August 9. The goal is to have 20 percent to 25 percent of all misdemeanors handled through the program, which would be about 2,000 to 2,500 cases a year, he said.

Each neighborhood prosecutor pre-screens people cited for nonviolent offenses such as drinking in public, vandalism, and petty theft, and refers suitable cases to a panel of volunteer adjudicators. Panelists can dismiss incidents, direct offenders to community service or restitution, or refer them to mediation or treatment.

Incidents involving people who fail to appear at the district police station or at neighborhood court, or who fail to comply with directives, are referred to regular criminal court.

Thursday, prosecutors discussed problems that impact many of the city’s neighborhoods, including gangs, drugs, and mental health issues. Gascón said the aim of the neighborhood program is to be “the problem solver” and “prevent crime from occurring in the first place” by being integrated in the city’s neighborhoods. Attorneys are working with police and community groups in the districts to address problems. Gascón said the effort also includes trying to get people to provide information and testify in cases.

It will take a couple years “to really understand how [the program] is going to impact our workload” at the Hall of Justice, he said.

Assistant District Attorney Tony Hernandez, the prosecutor for the SFPD’s Mission and Park stations, said he’s seen a “wide variety” of crimes. Both stations oversee the Castro and other neighborhoods. Hernandez said that in the Mission area, problems have included “quality of life” and drug-related cases, especially in the district’s parks and around 16th and Mission streets.

In the SFPD’s Tenderloin Station, Assistant District Attorney Julia Cervantes said many problems are related to mental health issues and homelessness. The neighborhood is home to many of the city’s poorest residents, including LGBTs living with HIV and AIDS.

Cervantes expressed particular concern for families in the district, as well as the impact crimes could have on the city’s tourist industry. The Union Square area, where hotels and shops draw some of the city’s biggest tourist crowds, is next to the Tenderloin. Cervantes is also the prosecutor for the SFPD’s Bayview Station.

Gascón said that when cases end up at the Hall of Justice, the process “takes longer than what we’d like it to.” Formally charged cases, even misdemeanors, can take months to make their way through the regular court system.

The main challenge with the neighborhood court effort has been getting offenders referred into the program.

Katy Miller, the DA’s director of policy and neighborhood prosecutor team leader, said there’s “a constant process of educating officers at the stations” on when to refer cases.

Handling crimes in the neighborhood system has been estimated to save an average of hundreds of dollars per case. Prosecutors from the DA’s office have volunteered to be assigned to the neighborhood program. Gascón said he’s received funding for one neighborhood prosecutor, and he isn’t seeking additional funding for the effort. The budget is equivalent to the prosecutors’ salaries and benefits, he said.

Along with Cervantes and Hernandez, neighborhood prosecutors are Marisa Rodriguez, Central and Southern districts; Rani Singh, Ingleside and Taraval disticts; and Marc Masserweh, Richmond and Northern districts.

For more information, visit the neighborhood courts section of the DA’s website.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 9:53 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Castro group approves proposed Starbucks

Business owners in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood offered their support recently for a proposed Starbucks at 2201 Market Street.

Starbucks’ Frank Noto told members of the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro last week that the coffee chain’s new shop would “revitalize the corner and revitalize the building,” which currently houses an Industrialists shop.

“It’s frankly kind of shabby,” he said of the stainless steel furniture store location at Market and Sanchez streets. He added the two existing neighborhood Starbucks – one near Church and Market streets, and the other by 18th and Castro streets – are overcrowded, and the new shop would give customers more space. A total of 60 indoor and outdoor seats are planned.

Noto pledged the chain would continue its commitment to the largely LGBT neighborhood. That includes providing funds to the GLBT Historical Society so the nonprofit can grant free entry to visitors during the Castro Street Fair, which is Sunday, October 7.

Parking won’t be available at the new shop, except for one spot for people with disabilities.

Starbucks representative Phil Burnett said they’re hoping to open the store in 2013.

The coffee chain has been working for months to to drum up support among residents and business owners.

Only one of MUMC’s members opposed Starbucks’ plans at the neighborhood group’s Thursday, August 2 meeting.

Even Auto Erotica owner Patrick Batt, who’s never shy about criticizing presenters at MUMC meetings and urging others to vote against proposals, was supportive of the Starbucks development. He seemed pleased with the company’s vows to help the community.

“Sometimes all it takes is rattling some cages,” Batt said.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, August 9, 2012 @ 2:16 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

« Previous PageNext Page »

Follow The Bay Area Reporter
Newsletter logo
twitter logo
facebook logo