Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 42 / 19 October 2017
 

Folsom Street Fair announces 2013-2015 dates

(Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Organizers of San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair have announced the dates for the next three installments of the annual fetish event.

The outdoor festival held in the South of Market neighborhood is returning to the last weekend of September in both 2013, the fair’s 30th anniversary year, and in 2015. It will be one weekend early in 2014.

This year’s fair was also moved up a week due to a scheduling conflict with Oracle OpenWorld. Because hotel rooms in the city are scarce during the tech confab, Folsom Street Events decided to change the date for the 2012 fair.

Looking to avoid a similar fate in 2013 during the fair’s milestone year, the nonprofit’s leaders worked with city officials and representatives from the Silicon Valley company to ensure the Folsom Street Fair could be held on its traditional date.

“Next year marks the 30th Folsom Street Fair, and we will revert to our ‘normal’ date on the last Sunday of the month. In 2014, we will move the date up a week again to avoid a similar conflict; but, for 2015, we are back to the last Sunday of the month again,” stated Demetri Moshoyannis, the nonprofit’s executive director.

For those who like to make their plans early, the Folsom Street Fair will be held Sunday, September 29, 2013; Sunday, September 21, 2014; and Sunday, September 27, 2015.

“We hope that this announcement will give everyone plenty of advance notice,” stated Jacob Richards, the outgoing president of Folsom Street Event’s board.

This year was not the first time that the fair’s date had been changed. According to the nonprofit, when the event was first launched it was timed to coincide with the autumnal equinox and its date varied.

Starting in 1993, however, the fair’s date was always the last Sunday in September. That tradition held until 2012.

“The decision to move the fair date this year was not taken lightly,” stated Richards. “When we have a conflict with SalesForce or Oracle Open World, the entire inventory of hotel rooms for the city is sold out. To avoid conflicts with other important events that bring visitors and revenue into San Francisco, we must look at the last two weekends in September.”

For information visit Folsom Street Event’s website.

 

— Matthew S. Bajko, November 30, 2012 @ 3:58 pm PST
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SF announces $6.1M for LGBT senior housing

An artist’s rendering of Richardson Hall, at the corner of Hermann and Laguna, part of a planned housing development for low-income seniors. (Photo: Courtesy Openhouse)

The first affordable housing project in San Francisco to be funded by the recently approved Housing Trust Fund will be a long-stalled affordable housing development for LGBT seniors.

Voters adopted the trust fund on the November ballot. It will provide San Francisco with a permanent source of revenue to pay for below-market-rate housing for low- and middle-income households over the next 30 years. It is estimated to generate $1.5 billion over the lifetime of the fund, with $20 million expected during the first year.

Mayor Ed Lee announced this morning (Friday, November 30) that the first allocation of money from the trust fund would be $6.1 million toward construction of  110 units of LGBT-friendly housing for low-income seniors at the 55 Laguna project.

“A growing and vibrant economy requires a diverse supply of new housing,” stated Lee. “San Francisco voters know that creating a permanent source of revenue to fund housing production will allow San Francisco to remain a viable place to live and work for people at all levels of the economic spectrum. And, a down payment assistance program will help keep families in our city and support a diverse workforce.”

Part of a larger in-fill development on the former UC Berkeley Extension campus a block away from the LGBT Community Center, the LGBT senior housing is estimated to cost $53 million to build. It is a joint venture between Openhouse, a local nonprofit that promotes the needs of LGBT seniors, and Mercy Housing California.

The project will occupy two buildings, one of which will be a re-purposed structure known as Richardson Hall, that have been incorporated into the larger project, which will add 330 new multi-family rental units to the city’s Lower Haight neighborhood.

“We are very excited that the city has been able to commit the funding to this important project to allow us to move toward start of construction in the summer,” stated Mercy Housing California President Douglas Shoemaker in a press release Lee’s office sent out. “It’s an honor to be the first affordable housing project funded with revenue from the Housing Trust Fund.”

The project has languished for years as city planners, the developers, neighborhood groups and housing activists squabbled over the development’s design, affordable housing component and financing.

In August the Planning Commission signed off on the project for a second time in four years due to several changes made by developer Wood Partners, which is constructing the rental housing. Following the vote Openhouse officials had said they would seek financial support from a variety of sources, such as the Mayor’s Office of Housing, the federal U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and a low-income tax credit financing program overseen by the state.

If the remaining money falls into place for the Openhouse project, the first LGBT seniors could move into their new apartments in 2015.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 1:44 pm PST
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Defendant to face trial in murder, robbery of gay SF man

Roland Pouncy (Photo: SFPD)

A man accused of fatally strangling a gay San Francisco man in the Mission district earlier this year will stand trial for the killing, a judge ordered this week.

Roland Pouncy, 42, is charged with murder and robbery in the death of Richard Sprague, 47, whose body was found at about 7 a.m. February 19, hours after neighborhood residents ignored his cries for help, police have said.

After a preliminary hearing Wednesday, November 21, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Charles Haines ruled there was enough evidence for Pouncy, who’s in custody and appeared in court, to stand trial on both charges.

Dr. Christopher Happy, an assistant medical examiner, testified that the cause of Sprague’s death was manual strangulation.

Abrasions on Sprague’s forehead and arms, along with other evidence, indicated that he had struggled with his killer, Happy said. The injuries were “either from fighting the assailant or hitting items that were by the decedent at the time,” he said.

Dave Nielsen, 60, Sprague’s partner of almost 20 years, has said that Sprague told him he was going to buy cigarettes at about midnight the day he died. Happy said it was difficult to determine the exact time of death but he estimated Sprague, whose body was found outside 125 Julian Street, had died as late as 4 a.m.

Kimberly Sylvester, of the San Francisco Police Department crime lab, testified Wednesday that she’d matched Pouncy to the killing after analyzing DNA samples from Pouncy’s fingers and Sprague’s neck, among other evidence.

A police officer said that when he located Pouncy near the 16th and Mission BART station, hours after Sprague died, Pouncy had Sprague’s Wells Fargo debit card with him.

Under examination by Deputy Public Defender Stephen Rosen, Happy confirmed that Sprague’s body, which was found blocks away from the home he shared with Nielsen, showed signs of “substantial drug intoxication.”

[Updated Sunday, November 25]: In an email exchange Sunday, Nielsen said Sprague had psoriatic arthritis and both of his hips had recently been replaced. Sprague had been taking morphine and hydrocodone that had been prescribed to him, he said.

“Richard was actually taking himself down off of the drugs because he did not like the effects even though he remained in a high amount of pain all the time,” Nielsen said.

The full medical examiner’s report wasn’t immediately available[End update].

Rosen sought to find weaknesses in the testimonies of Assistant District Attorney John Rowland’s witnesses, but offered little argument when Haines indicated how he intended to rule. Rosen said prosecutors only have to meet “a very low standard of proof” when cases are in the preliminary hearing phase.

Nielsen, who’s said Sprague was “fun and outgoing,” and “extremely caring,” attended the first half of Wednesday’s hearing. Outside the courtroom, he said the ordeal has been “hard on the whole family.”

Pouncy is next due in court December 5 for arraignment.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, November 24, 2012 @ 8:16 pm PST
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Gov Brown appoints first gay CA appellate justice; names lesbian to San Diego bench

Governor Jerry Brown made judicial history today by appointing the first openly gay justice to serve on the California Court of Appeals.

He also appointed a well-known lesbian attorney to a court seat in San Diego County today and picked the first Latino justice to be appointed to a Central Valley appellate court.

The two appointments are believed to be the first time that Brown has appointed openly gay or lesbian people to court vacancies since returning to the governor’s office in 2011. As the Bay Area Reporter noted in March, during his first 13 months in office Brown had not disclosed that any of his judicial picks were members of the LGBT community.

Among a number of appointments to court vacancies Brown announced this morning (Wednesday, November 21) was that of gay San Francisco resident Jim Humes, 53, as an associate justice of the First District Court of Appeal, Division Four.

Humes (seen at left) has served as Brown’s executive secretary for legal affairs, administration and policy since 2011. He was the chief deputy attorney general when Brown served as attorney general from 2007 to 2011.

Having first joined the California Department of Justice in 1993, Humes served in multiple positions, including chief assistant of the civil division and senior assistant attorney general of the health, education and welfare section. He served in the Colorado Attorney General’s Office from 1984 to 1986 and again from 1987 to 1993.

Humes was an associate at Banta Hoyt Banta Greene Hannen and Everall PC from 1986 to 1987 and at Jay Stuart Radetsky PC from 1983 to 1984. He earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Denver, a Master of Social Science degree from the University of Colorado and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Illinois State University.

He will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Patricia Sepulveda. If confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, Humes will make $204,599 as an appellate justice.

Brown also appointed Paula S. Rosenstein to the San Diego County Superior Court. A former co-president of the Tom Homann LGBT Law Association in San Diego, Rosenstein specializes in working with domestic partners as well as handling employment legal issues.

Rosenstein, 52, has been an attorney and shareholder at Rosenstein Wilson and Dean PLC since 1997. She was a sole practitioner from 1991 to 1997, an associate attorney at Rosenstein Shpall and Associates from 1987 to 1991 and an associate attorney at Richard D. Prochazka APC in 1987.

She earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of San Diego School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Linda B. Quinn. Rosenstein is a Democrat and will earn $178,789 as a judge.

In another historic move, Brown also named Rosendo Peña as his choice to be an associate justice on the state’s Fifth District Court of Appeal. Should Peña, 57, a Democrat on the Fresno Superior Court, be confirmed by the the Commission on Judicial Appointments he will be the first Latino justice in the history of the district appellate court that covers a number of Central Valley counties.

He is filling a vacancy on the court due to the retirement of Justice Betty L. Dawson and would make $204,599 as an appellate justice.

— Matthew S. Bajko, November 21, 2012 @ 1:00 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


SF supervisors adopt public nudity ban

A majority of the Board of  Supervisors has adopted a ban against public nudity in San Francisco, but the new law is already being contested in federal court.

On a 6-5 vote, the supervisors approved the legislation pushed forward by gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, seen in the photo at left, during their meeting this afternoon (Tuesday, November 20). The legislation is in response to Wiener’s constituents who are fed up with naked men who congregate at a plaza in the gay Castro district.

“For many years it wasn’t a big deal and nobody cared. It is no longer random and sporadic; it is no longer an occasional part or a quirky part of San Francisco. In the Castro it is 7 days a week pretty much every single week,” said Wiener as he urged his colleagues to pass the ban.

The ban would require people to be clothed on city sidewalks, parklets, streets, on Muni vehicles and inside transit stations. The law would exempt permitted street festivals and parades; nudity is already banned in city parks, restaurants and on port property.

The prohibition would prevent anyone older than 5 years old from exposing his or her genitals, perineum or anal region in the listed public areas. It would not apply to a woman’s breasts, nor would it ban such things as chaps or other ass-bearing clothing.

A first offense would come with a $100 fine, while repeat offenders could face a $500 fine or a year in county jail. Any convictions due to the ordinance would not constitute a sex offense for purposes of the state sex offender registry.

Joining with Wiener to pass the change to the city’s police codes were the board’s moderate block of members: Sean Elsbernd, Malia Cohen, Carmen Chu, and Mark Farrell. Board President David Chiu, who had met with the urban nudists, provided the swing vote.

He said during the hearing that his constituents had urged him to vote for the nudity ban, as they did not want to see naked men turning up in the city’s main tourist neighborhoods such as Chinatown, North Beach, Union Square, and  Fisherman’s Wharf.

“I do not think this legislation will somehow end the parts of what we love about our city and what is special about our city,” said Chiu.

Opposing the nudity ban was the board’s four progressive members: David Campos, Christina Olague, John Avalos, and Eric Mar.

Campos, himself a gay man, said he was concerned that police would be pulled away from dealing with violent crime in his Mission District to deal with people violating the nudity ban.

“I do fear if this law is passed limited resources, in this case that Mission Station has, are better spent on preventing violent crime in other parts of the district,” said Campos.

He also questioned if a citywide ban was warranted and if a solution could have been found through mediation between neighborhood groups in the Castro and the urban nudists.

“I wonder if effort was made to bring different parties to the table. Have we done everything short of having a citywide ban? I don’t know if we have reached that point yet,” said Campos.

He later added that, “As a gay man I can tell you the Castro has been a mecca for the LGBT community for many, many years. And nudity has been a part of that community for quite some time. For all these years the Castro has survived, the sky hasn’t fallen without a nudity ban in place.”

Olague, a bisexual Latina who represents the Haight on the board, expressed similar misgivings as Campos about the nudity ban.

“In many ways I think this is a solution looking for a problem,” said Olague. “With the exception of a small area in the Castro, I am not certain it has reached such epidemic problems to necessitate a citywide ban.”

The ordinance must be approved a second time by the board next month before it is sent to Mayor Ed Lee. He has indicated he plans to sign it into law.

Wiener amended the law’s implementation date so that it would not take effect until February 1, 2013. He did so because an attorney representing four urban nudists has already filed a class action suit against the city in federal court to prevent the nudity ban from going into effect.

San Francisco-based lawyer Christina A. DiEdoardo is arguing in court briefs that the proposed law violates the freedom of expression and the equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Edward M. Chen, with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, has scheduled a hearing for January 17 to determine if the new law violates the rights of urban nudists.

Immediately following the supervisor’s vote Oxane “Gypsy” Taub, a Berkeley resident who hosts her own nudity television show and is a party to the lawsuit, could be seen on the live television feed of the meeting removing her clothes in the board chambers before the video went dark.

“This is not a legitimate government,” Taub could be heard shouting. “You are voting against the majority of the people. Shame on you.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, November 20, 2012 @ 5:29 pm PST
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Jury acquits man upset by drag queen’s kiss

A San Francisco jury acquitted a man who’d been angered by a drag queen kissing his girlfriend of misdemeanor battery this week.

Francisco Arnaiz Martin (Photo: San Francisco Police Department)

Francisco Arnaiz Martin, 38, of Spain, was charged after a September 28 incident in which he and his girlfriend, identified by authorities only as a 33-year-old San Francisco resident, had been drinking at the Cat Club, 1190 Folsom Street.

Arnaiz Martin testified he became upset when a drag queen with whom the couple had been dancing kissed his girlfriend, a news release from the public defender’s office says. He walked outside, and his girlfriend followed him. The two started arguing, and Arnaiz Martin told her repeatedly he wanted to be alone.

The girlfriend pulled at his shirt and arms and blocked his path with her arms to try to stop him from leaving, and he moved her arms away, according to the public defender’s office.

“Because she was intoxicated and in high heels, she fell onto the sidewalk and scraped her knees,” Deputy Public Defender JP Visaya stated in the release.

An angry mob gathered around the couple. At least one person punched Arnaiz Martin and  sprayed him with pepper spray. Medics arrived and treated Arnaiz Martin and his girlfriend, and police sent them home together.

Once they got to the woman’s house, they started arguing again, and police were called at about 4 a.m. Officers told Arnaiz Martin to leave for the night.

When he returned at 8 a.m. to get his clothes, passport, and travel documents, Arnaiz Martin knocked repeatedly on the apartment door and called up to the window, but no one responded.

Finally, he kicked down the front door, according to the public defender’s office. The girlfriend was inside her apartment, and she and Arnaiz Martin began fighting once more. This time, police responded and arrested him.

A club security guard who’d been called by the prosecution testified that he hadn’t seen Arnaiz Martin push his girlfriend, the public defender’s office release says. The release also says prosecutors didn’t bring any witnesses that could testify they saw him push her.

Jurors deliberated less than 30 minutes Tuesday, November 13 before finding Arnaiz Martin, who had no criminal history, not guilty. He had faced up to a year in county jail if convicted.

“Mr. Arnaiz Martin’s public defender rightly argued that a conviction cannot be based on the reaction of a drunken mob,” Public Defender Jeff Adachi stated.

Arnaiz Martin had also been charged with vandalism, but that count was dismissed during the three-day trial after his relatives arranged to pay for the door he’d kicked down.

The couple met in March while she was studying in Madrid, and Arnaiz Martin arrived in the United States in mid-September. He spent almost seven weeks in jail after his arrest.

Arnaiz Martin, who the public defender’s office indicated was heading back to Spain, couldn’t be reached for comment.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, November 16, 2012 @ 7:19 pm PST
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Yee declares victory in D7 supervisor race

District 7 supervisor-elect Norman Yee (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Outgoing school board president Norman Yee declared victory today (Thursday, November 15) in the race for the open District 7 supervisor seat west of Twin Peaks.

On election night the progressive Yee had held a slight edge. But his vote tally then dropped him into second place as the city’s instant voter runoff system began tallying votes.

For several days after the election it appeared that labor leader Francis “FX” Crowley would claim the seat.

But last weekend Crowley’s front-runner status began to change as more uncounted ballots were added to the candidates’ totals and Yee regained the top spot. As of late this afternoon Yee had 12,448 votes or 50.26 percent.

Crowley remained in second place with  12,317 votes or 49.74 percent. In third was Board of Appeals President Mike Garcia with 7,449 votes or 26.38 percent.

After the latest vote count was announced by election officials, Yee’s campaign issued a statement saying he was ready to declare victory more than a week after the election.

“I am pleased that the final vote count has been completed, showing I have come out in front. I am so delighted that my first choice votes prevailed even with ranked choice factored in,” stated Yee in the release. “It has been a very long eight days since Election Night for my family and my supporters. Through it all, they have stood by me and provided encouragement.”

He will join another newcomer on the board, District 5 supervisor-elect London Breed, who defeated the incumbent, bisexual appointed Supervisor Christina Olague, in the contest for the seat centered in the Haight and Western Addition. The two freshmen lawmakers will help determine who becomes president of the Board of Supervisors after they are sworn into office in early January.

On Friday Crowley announced that he was not ready to concede the race. In an email to supporters, he said he may request a recount of the vote, which can not occur until the results are certified. Elections officials have until December 4 to do so.

“I am considering all of my options including a recount of ranked-choice votes. I feel grateful for the continued support and loyalty of family, friends, neighbors, colleagues and the residents of District 7,” wrote Crowley. “I have said this many times before. I simply could not have come this far without your support, confidence and trust. I will keep you updated. Please know I remain committed to the people of District 7.”

Yee is a native San Franciscan and a 27-year resident of the Westwood Park neighborhood where he and his wife raised their two daughters. He thanked his opponents, who also included fourth-place finisher gay journalist Joel Engardio, for running a “dynamic race.”

“I think we can all agree that we care about San Francisco and District 7 and I would be honored to work with them to address issues like supporting small businesses and keeping jobs in San Francisco,” he stated.

And he praised incumbent District 7 Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who is termed out of office this year, for his eight years of service.

“I also want to thank him for reaching out to me to assure a smooth transition during the next few months,” stated Yee.

— Matthew S. Bajko, November 15, 2012 @ 7:03 pm PST
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Judge declines to stop vote on SF nudity ban

A federal judge has refused to stop San Francisco supervisors from voting on a public nudity ban next week.

Naked men stroll down Castro Street in 2010. Photo: Rick Gerharter

In response to constituents fed up with naked men who congregate at a plaza in the Castro, gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced an ordinance to ban people from being nude on city sidewalks, parklets, streets, on Muni vehicles and inside transit stations. The law would exempt permitted street festivals and parades; nudity is already banned in city parks and on port property.

Nudists and their supporters have fought back, holding several nude-ins to protest the law. They argue it not only tramples on people’s first amendment freedoms but would negatively impact the city’s reputation with tourists and other visitors.

A supervisors’ panel rejected their pleas last week and voted to recommend that the full board adopt the ban. Mayor Ed Lee has expressed support for it, and the supervisors will take it up at their meeting Tuesday, November 20.

As expected, an attorney for four urban nudists filed a lawsuit Wednesday afternoon in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California claiming the proposed law violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

“The proposed legislation impermissibly restricts the free speech and association rights of Plaintiffs and all similarly situated persons as it attempts to criminalize nudity even when engaged in for the purpose of political advocacy,” states the lawsuit. “Furthermore, the proposed ordinance violates equal protection as it exempts certain types of speech – i.e. that taking place at City-sanctioned events – from enforcement.”

San Francisco-based lawyer Christina A DiEdoardo, who is representing the nudists, had also sought a temporary restraining order to prevent the supervisors from voting on the ban next week.

But in a conference call with DiEdoardo and attorneys for the city this afternoon, (Thursday, November 15) U.S. District Judge Edward M. Chen rejected the request. Instead, Chen said he would consider a motion for an injunction against the proposed ordinance that would prevent the ban from going into effect if it is passed by city leaders while the issue makes its way through the courts.

If a majority of the 11-member Board of Supervisors votes to approve the nudity ban Tuesday, then a second and final vote would take place Tuesday, December 4. At that point Lee would have 10 days to sign the measure into law and it would go into effect within 30 days, or January 13 at the latest.

It is believed that at least six supervisors will vote to pass the ban. It is also expected that the injunction against the nudity ban being enforced while its legality is litigated would be approved.

The judge has asked both sides to come up with a court date in the coming weeks to hear the injunction request.

The proposed law would ban a person from exposing their genitals, perineum and anal region in public. A first offense would come with a $100 fine, while repeat offenders could face a $500 fine or a year in county jail.

Any convictions due to the ordinance would not constitute a sex offense for purposes of the state sex offender registry.

The supervisors meet at 2 p.m. inside the Legislative Chamber, Room 250 at City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 5:41 pm PST
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District attorney seeks neighborhood safety proposals

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón is requesting proposals for funding from groups that want to increase community safety.

“The Neighborhood Justice Fund empowers communities to take action toward improving neighborhood safety,” Gascón said in a statement Wednesday, November 14. “We encourage community organizations to be creative in their proposals on effective ways to foster public safety in their neighborhoods.”

The money comes from neighborhood court directives and is meant to be used for once-a-year grants to community-based organizations. Gascón launched the neighborhood courts program in 2011 in an effort to steer many non-violent cases away from regular criminal courts.

Through their Stop the Violence campaign, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and others have been encouraging people to be careful while they’re enjoying the city’s nightlife. The program has been most prevalent in the Castro neighborhood, but those behind the campaign have been increasing their reach.

“We would love to apply for a grant, which we would use to expand the Stop The Violence campaign,” Sister Eve Volution, a.k.a. Scott Bray, said in a Facebook exchange. “We could use the grant for more printed materials and expand our distribution from the Castro” into the South of Market, Polk Street, and Tenderloin neighborhoods.

Among other activities, Stop the Violence has been distributing the “Clubber’s Guide to Safety,” which includes tips on how to avoid being assaulted – or worse – when hooking up with strangers.

The district attorney’s request for proposals process is open to all non-profits and community-groups. Up to $3,500 is available for each organization. The DA’s office will award a maximum of 11 grants during this funding cycle. Proposals must be submitted by 5 p.m. Friday, December 14.

For more information visit http://www.sfdistrictattorney.org.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 5:31 pm PST
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Activists plan sit-in at Harvey Milk Plaza

Upset with the removal of benches along a walkway at the Castro’s Harvey Milk Plaza, activists are planning to hold a sit-in there this Sunday.

The issue has rekindled the debate over use of the city’s public spaces, which first bubbled over in 2010 when the city adopted an ordinance restricting people from sitting and lying on city sidewalks. A similar sit-in was staged May 22, 2011 – Harvey Milk Day – to protest the sit/lie law.

As first reported in the Bay Area Reporter‘s Political Notebook November 1, the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District had the benches ripped out due to complaints that they were magnets for homeless people. Part of the problem was with the design of the benches.

The city’s Arts Commission refused to sign off on the initial concept for the benches that included armrests. The CBD, which paid for the installation as well as the removal of the benches, is storing them for now as it determines how best to activate the pedestrian plaza above the Castro Muni Station.

Their removal has brought mixed reactions. A local design critic blogger who goes by the name Kam posted about the plaza and asked the question seen in the photo at right.

“I am not sure what most people think of that but aesthetically the plaza looks much better with only the plain curving wall and it doesn’t smell as bad anymore,” the person wrote. “To be honest, it is weird that the homeless is actually gone at the moment because they can easily sleep on the ground too and there is nothing the official can do about it.”

The homeless who used to use the benches have simply congregated across the street at Jane Warner Plaza.

Advocates for the homeless have argued that there is no need to remove the benches and have been angered by the CBD’s decision. They also fault area business leaders who complained about the plaza situation and District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener for not finding another solution.

In an email sent by Tommi Avicolli Mecca, the housing rights activist wrote that the only reason the CBD had the benches removed is “because they don’t like who was sitting and sleeping on them (street people, homeless youth) so we’re reclaiming the space.”

They plan to retake the plaza at noon Sunday, November 18 by bringing their own “chairs, benches, signs, and our unbeatable spirit to protest this move against the use of public space,” according to the Facebook page for the protest.

 

 


— Matthew S. Bajko, November 14, 2012 @ 1:02 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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