Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Planning body to review updated plans for Castro housing project

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 4.13.56 PMThe San Francisco Planning Commission will review next week the updated plans for a new mixed-use development that will replace a gas station at the heart of the city’s gayborhood.

The project at 376 Castro Street on the intersection of Market, Castro and 17th streets (seen at right), has gone through several iterations. One proposal a number of years ago was outright rejected by planning staff who felt the design wasn’t worthy for a site at such a prominent intersection in the city.

Last summer a retooled design for the property, which will replace the gas station with housing over ground floor retail, won approval from the planning commission. The six-story, 65 foot tall mixed-use building will have 24 dwelling units and 3,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space.

It will have five one bedroom units and 19 two bedroom units, including several that will be on-site below market residential units.

There will also be a street level community room space for local groups to use as a place to hold board meetings or smaller get-togethers. There will also be parking for bicycles and cars.

Yet, despite their vote of approval, the commissioners instructed the project sponsor to continue to refine its design for the building. Over the ensuing months project’s sponsor, David Silverman with Reuben & Junius, and Sternberg Benjamin Architects have worked with planning staff to tweak the design’s final materials, glazing, color, texture, landscaping, and detailing.

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 4.35.46 PMAccording to the latest staff report on the project, the design (its Castro Street facade is at left) now is “a fusion of a bold transparent element at the intersection of Market and Castro Streets flanked by solid walls with rhythmically patterned window openings, balconies, and bay projections.”

The corner element is a spandrel glass system with non-tinted glazing and an aluminum frame in a warm, pewter color paint finish, states the report. The solid walls are clad with terra cotta tiles, “grounding the building with a dark grey at the base of the building and a random palette of terra cotta red and buff colors for the body of the building.”
The building’s roof terrace has a windscreen of glass and mesh that is a continuation of the corner transparent element, states the report, and will be capped with a pewter colored aluminum cornice.

Staff will present an informational-only update on the design to the Planning Commission at its Thursday, June 6 meeting. The oversight body meets at noon in Room 400 at City Hall.

— Matthew S. Bajko, May 31, 2013 @ 4:47 pm PST
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Obama highlights job discrimination, marriage in Pride proclamation

President Barack Obama. (Photo: Rudy K. Lawidjaja)

President Barack Obama. (Photo: Rudy K. Lawidjaja)

President Barack Obama highlighted LGBT rights work that lies ahead as he joined the chorus of LGBT Pride Month proclaimers Friday (May 31).

“This year, we celebrate LGBT Pride Month at a moment of great hope and progress, recognizing that more needs to be done,” Obama said in a statement Friday.

“We have witnessed real and lasting change, but our work is not complete,” Obama said. He said he continues to support a “fully inclusive’ Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit employers from discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. He also said he’s continuing to back the Respect for Marriage Act. That bill, of which California Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) is a lead sponsor, would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. DOMA prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce in June whether it will allow a key section of the law to stand.

Obama, who during his presidency didn’t come out in support of same-sex marriage until May 2012, pointed to the growing number of states where same-sex marriage is legal.

“Support for LGBT equality is growing, led by a generation which understands that, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,'” Obama said. “In the past year, for the first time, voters in multiple states affirmed marriage equality for same-sex couples. State and local governments have taken important steps to provide much-needed protections for transgender Americans.”

In his proclamation, the president also pointed to health care.

“My Administration continues to implement the Affordable Care Act, which beginning in 2014, prohibits insurers from denying coverage to consumers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which addresses the disparate impact of the HIV epidemic among certain LGBT sub-communities,” he said.

“We have a long way to go, but if we continue on this path together, I am confident that one day soon, from coast to coast, all of our young people will look to the future with the same sense of promise and possibility,” Obama said in his statement, which also touted his signing of laws addressing hate crimes and ending the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on gays serving openly in the military, among other achievements. “I am confident because I have seen the talent, passion, and commitment of LGBT advocates and their allies, and I know that when voices are joined in common purpose, they cannot be stopped.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 2:56 pm PST
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Pelosi calls for pro-gay immigration reform, ENDA passage in Pride statement

220px-Speaker_Nancy_PelosiIn her annual Pride month statement, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) is calling for the passage of pro-LGBT federal workplace protections and reforms to the country’s anti-gay immigration policies.

Neither has much chance of passage in this congressional session, with GOP leadership in the House opposed to both measures and Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee last week refusing to include pro-gay amendments to the immigration reform bill they passed.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, does plan to bring up ENDA in July, according to a recent report on BuzzFeed. But the bill has lagged on Capitol Hill for decades and few expect to see it make it to President Barack Obama’s desk for signage anytime soon.

Unless Democrats can take back the House in 2014 during the midterm election, ENDA will be dead on arrival with Republican’s in control of the lower chamber.

Pelosi alluded to the slow slog for passing federal pro-gay bills in her Pride statement, which her office released this afternoon (Friday, March 31) a day ahead of the official start to Pride Month.

“LGBT Pride Month is a time to celebrate how far we’ve come in the march toward equality and to rededicate ourselves to the cause of justice now and in the future,” stated Pelosi.

She noted that, “What emerged as a new chapter in the fight for civil rights at Stonewall in June 1969 continues today in the battle to secure basic, fundamental protections for LGBT families and workers everywhere – to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act; to reject discrimination in our immigration system against LGBT families and foreign-born partners and spouses; and to make marriage equality not just a cause of one community, but the law of the land.”

Americans can take pride, added Pelosi, in the passage of a fully-inclusive hate crimes law and the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during Obama’s first term. Elected leaders in particular, stated Pelosi, can take pride in their LGBT colleagues in Congress due to the record number of LGBT House members (6) and U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) becoming the first-ever LGBT person serving in the Senate.

Pelosi also predicted there would be two more achievements to celebrate during the Pride parades held on the last weekend of June

“In this month, we can all take pride in the knowledge that soon, the Supreme Court will discard the defenseless Defense of Marriage Act and Prop. 8 into the dustbin of history,” she stated.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 2:31 pm PST
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Brown mentions U.S. Supreme Court marriage cases in Pride Month statement

Governor Jerry Brown with his wife, Anne Gust. (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

Governor Jerry Brown with his wife, Anne Gust. (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

In his LGBT Pride Month proclamation issued Friday (May 31), California Governor Jerry Brown invoked the two same-sex marriage cases that the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce its decisions on in June, which is the month typically designated to honor the LGBT community.

Hollingsworth v. Perry, which seeks to overturn the state’s Proposition 8 same-sex marriage ban, and United States v. Windsor, an attempt to undo a section of the federal anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, are “two important cases concerning the marriage rights of same-sex couples,” Brown said. “The high court’s consideration of these matters represents both the progress our society has made in extending the full rights of citizenship to LGBT people and the barriers that still remain to achieving full equality. As we await the outcomes, we should contemplate the importance of treating all people fairly and equally, so that all may live with dignity and pride.”

Brown himself was slow to publicly endorse same-sex marriage, but has become more supportive. He refused to defend Prop 8 in court at the state level.

In other Pride news, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s office announced Friday that the gay rainbow flag will be raised Tuesday, June 18 at City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place. An invitation-only ceremony in Lee’s office is set to begin at 11 a.m.

The Bob Ross Foundation and Taste Catering and Event Planning are providing support for the ceremony and luncheon. The foundation owns the Bay Area Reporter, but they are two separate legal entities.

 San Francisco’s LGBT Pride Parade and celebration is set for June 29-30.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 11:31 am PST
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Gay San Diego Republican runs for Congress

headshot-194x300Gay former Republican San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio is running for Congress.

In an email to supporters this morning (Thursday, May 30), DeMaio made official his candidacy in the 2014 race for the 52nd Congressional District.

“Like you, I am concerned about the condition and course of government at all levels and the troubled state of our economy,” wrote DeMaio. “Like you, I’m not willing to let our country, state or cities fall further into disrepair without fighting to fix the problems.

“That’s why I have decided to run for Congress – and I’d like you to be part of our campaign to offer bold reform ideas in an inclusive and fresh way,” added DeMaio in his emailed announcement.

In an apparent reference to his unsuccessful bid for San Diego mayor last year, DeMaio began his email with a quote from Winston Churchill, who said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

After his failed mayoral campaign and having to leave the city council, as his term was up, DeMaio announced in January that he had been named chairman of the California Reform Council. A Los Angeles-based project of the Reason Foundation, the council is focused on balancing the state budget without raising taxes.

DeMaio also said at the time that he would launch Reform San Diego, a research and political advocacy group whose main priority is the city’s finances.

For months it had been speculated that DeMaio would run for the House seat, currently held by freshman Congressman Scott Peters (D-San Diego), also a former San Diego City Councilman. Peters is expected to seek re-election.

The chatter about a challenge by DeMaio had increased in recent weeks after polling showed DeMaio has a good chance of winning the race. Though local Democrats called the poll results ” a sham” and expressed confidence in Peters’ re-election chances.

Due to redistricting, the seat covering San Diego’s coastal areas and the coastal-inland North County is considered a tossup. Last fall former Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray (R-Solana Beach) came close to beating Peters; a match-up between DeMaio and Peters is expected to also be a horse race.

Should he win, DeMaio would be the second openly LGBT person to win a congressional seat in California. Last fall Democrat Mark Takano, a gay Japanese-American, became the first out member of the Golden State’s congressional delegation when he won the 41st Congressional District based in Riverside.

As an out GOPer, DeMaio would be the first gay Republican non-incumbent to win a House seat.


— Matthew S. Bajko, May 30, 2013 @ 11:21 am PST
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Under One Roof plans Castro summer pop-up store

This summer the nonprofit Under One Roof, which raises money for AIDS agencies through merchandise sales, is returning to the Castro with a pop-up store.

In January Under One Roof closed its Castro store due to declining sales and an onerous lease agreement. Then in April it opened a store in the Crocker Galleria in downtown San Francisco after the shopping center gave it a generous deal on a month-to-month lease.

It had always planned to return to the city’s gayborhood for limited amounts of time, such as during the Christmas season. Its summer pop-up store will be located at 541 Castro Street and be open from June through Labor Day weekend.

Photo: Google

Photo: Google

Les Natali, who owns several gay bars and the long-shuttered Patio restaurant, owns the long vacant storefront adjacent to the eatery. As the Bay Area Reporter disclosed in March, Natali filed paperwork with the city’s Planning Department in order to seek the permits he needs to reopen the eatery at 531 Castro Street. That hearing is expected in July.

In an email to supporters Tuesday, May 28, Under One Roof announced the pop-up store and said that Natali had offered the storefront rent-free. Called UOR Bizarre Bazaar, the shop is expected to open June 7.

It will feature recently donated merchandise, new Pride and Castro-themed items from SF Mercantile, and queer artwork from Katie Gilmartin. New Under One Roof board member Allen Horner of the Gap is working on the pop-up store’s merchandising plan, and Brian Ahern will serve as the retail pop-up team leader.

The agency’s email stated, “This pop-up store is being opened to generate maximum profits for our agency partners through help from the community in the form of donated goods.”

Mondays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. the store will accept donated goods of “good-quality” and “good-condition merchandise” people can re-gift, as the sale proceeds will benefit local nonprofits. Items that will be accepted include home décor, complete tableware sets, decorative glassware and crystal, framed art, and fine linens.

For more information, visit

— Matthew S. Bajko, May 29, 2013 @ 12:28 pm PST
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Pride announces Manning meeting

Army private first class Bradley Manning

Army private first class Bradley Manning

Organizers of San Francisco’s LGBT Pride parade and celebration have announced a community meeting to address the controversy around Army private first class Bradley Manning.

The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m., Friday, May 31 at Metropolitan Community Church-San Francisco, 150 Eureka Street.The facilitator will be Scott Shafer, host of KQED’s California Report.

The San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee announced late last month that Manning, the whistle-blower who leaked 700,000 classified government documents to WikiLeaks, was to be recognized as a grand marshal this year, but Pride’s board soon rescinded the honor. Community protest quickly erupted. Pride officials limited public comment at a meeting at their Market Street offices, then abruptly ended the meeting.

“The SF Pride Board recognizes and regrets the recent error in the announcement of Mr. Bradley Manning as the Electoral College’s Community Grand Marshal,” Pride officials stated Friday (May 24). “As promised, in the spirit of fairness and transparency, we are calling for an open forum where we can hear the full range of the community’s concerns.”

Security will be on hand at the gathering, which Pride officials said can’t go past 9:30.



— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 24, 2013 @ 3:04 pm PST
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Boy Scouts to allow gay members; LGBT adults still excluded

The Boy Scouts of America announced Thursday (May 23) that the organization will allow gay scouts but continue to exclude LGBT adults from leadership positions.

About 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts’ National Council “approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone,” the organization said in a statement. “The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of scouting age is contrary to the virtues of scouting. A change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place.”

In an email blast Thursday, John O’Connor, executive director of the LGBT lobbying group Equality California, said, “Instead of forging boldly into the future, the Boy Scouts of America has clung to the prejudices of the past.”

The Boy Scouts’ decision means “gay scouts would still be kicked out at 18, that LGBT parents are still unfairly excluded, and that the BSA is still the largest youth group teaching discrimination,” O’Connor said.

He touted the Youth Equality Act, authored by out Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach), which would remove a state tax exemption for any youth group, including the Boy Scouts, that discriminate against members or leaders on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 23, 2013 @ 4:06 pm PST
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White House names three out Californians as Milk honorees; Obama recognizes lesbian astronaut Ride

Harvey Milk (Photo: Dan Nicoletta)

Harvey Milk (Photo: Dan Nicoletta)

White House officials have selected three out gay Californians as Harvey Milk Champions of Change. All will be honored Wednesday, May 22, which would have been Milk’s 83rd birthday.

Additionally, President Obama has chosen lesbian astronaut Sally Ride to receive a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom award.

Redondo Beach Mayor Michael A. Gin, 50, is serving his second term leading the Southern California city, having been reelected in March 2009. As mayor, Gin “has seen the city through several years of economic challenges with a consistently balanced budget and a thriving local economy,” White House officials said in a statement Monday (May 20). They also stated, “He has worked to bring the community together from all sectors on various issues, resulting in uniquely collaborative solutions.”

In a brief interview, Gin said he was “deeply honored and surprised and thrilled” by the recognition.

“Supervisor Milk was an amazing individual and leader, not only for San Francisco, but for our nation and for our entire LGBT community, at a time when it was very difficult to be out as a gay man, much less to be an elected public official and out,” Gin said. “To be honored with an award that bears his name is extremely humbling to me, and perhaps will be one of the greatest honors I think that I ever receive.”

California Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird was one of the first openly gay mayors in the country when he was elected to the post in Santa Cruz in 1983. In 2002, he became one of the first out gay men elected to the Legislature, where he eventually served as budget chair.

In 2012, Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach) became the first openly gay person of color elected to California’s state Senate. Lara, who’s also served in the Assembly, is the first LGBT legislator to chair the California Latino Legislative Caucus.

Seven other openly LGBT elected or appointed officials will also receive the Champion of Change recognition Wednesday: Georgia State Representative Simone Bell; South Dakota State Senator Angie Buhl O’Donnell; Minnesota State Representative Karen Clark; Hawaii State Civil Rights Commissioner Kim Coco Iwamoto; Johnson County, Iowa Recorder Kim Painter; Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Seelbach; and Colorado State Senator Pat Steadman.

Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to Obama, said in a White House statement Monday, “When President Obama posthumously awarded Harvey Milk the Medal of Freedom in 2009, he praised his leadership and courage in running for office. Today, we honor Harvey Milk’s legacy in these ten outstanding public servants, who will surely inspire the next generation of public servants.”

In 1977, Milk was the first out gay man to be elected to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors. Former Supervisor Dan White fatally shot both Milk and then-Mayor George Moscone in their City Hall offices in November 1978.

Through the Champions of Change program, the White House features individuals, businesses and organizations “who are doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities,” administration officials stated.

Obama honors Ride

Also Monday, Obama announced he’ll award a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut to travel to space. The medal is the country’s highest civilian honor.

Although it wasn’t publicly known before her death from cancer in July 2012, Ride was a lesbian.“We remember Sally Ride not just as a national hero, but as a role model to generations of young women,” Obama said in a statement that mentioned Ride’s partner of 27 years, Tam O’Shaughnessy, though not by name. The announcement also didn’t refer to Ride’s orientation. “Sally inspired us to reach for the stars, and she advocated for a greater focus on the science, technology, engineering and math that would help us get there. Sally showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve, and I look forward to welcoming her family to the White House as we celebrate her life and legacy.”

To watch the Champions of Change event live, visit at noon PST, 3 p.m. EST Wednesday.

The remainder of the Presidential Medal of Freedom honorees will be announced over the coming weeks, and the awards will be presented at a White House ceremony later this year.




— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 20, 2013 @ 3:08 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Chipotle planning hearing for Castro space scheduled for mid June

The Planning Commission will wade into a Castro burrito battle when it meets June 20. That Thursday is when the hearing on a proposed Chipotle Mexican Grill on upper Market Street has been scheduled.

The national Mexican food purveyor wants to open at the old Home restaurant location at the corner of Market and Church streets.  Gay former San Francisco chef Steve Ells founded the Denver-based chain in 1993 and is its chairman and co-CEO.

20130326_chipotle2_610x346As seen in the proposed design at right, the company plans to construct an outdoor seating area for 24 at the location. There will also be parking spaces at the eatery.

Indoors will be seating for about 60 people. Entrances are planned from the parking lot, Market Street and off of 14th Street.

The plan calls for serving margaritas and beer, though company officials have said no alcohol will be allowed in the outside patio area. The menu will be limited, similar to its other locations, and customers would order and pay for their food first then seat themselves.

As the Bay Area Reporter has previously reported, the company is facing strong headwinds against its permit requests for the space, which has been vacant since Home abruptly closed in the summer of 2011. Neighborhood opposition to Chipotle has been widespread, and planning staff announced in February they would not recommend it for approval.

Since then the Planning Commission has adopted new rules aimed at limiting the number of chain stores along Market Street between Octavia Boulevard and Castro Street. While planning staff has yet to reveal their calculations, it is expected that the Chipotle would exceed the 20 percent threshold for formula retail within a 300-foot radius.

The 2100 Market Street location is across Church Street from Safeway, two Starbucks, a Wells Fargo Bank, and a Jamba Juice. Across from it on Market Street is a Walgreens and 24 Hour Fitness gym.

Less than two weeks ago the Planning Commission rejected a Starbucks at the corner of Market and Sanchez streets for coming in at 21 percent based on the new chain store rules. Like Chipotle, the coffee chain also faced deep opposition from Castro residents and merchants.

To drum up support for its application, Chipotle launched an online petition and advertising campaign earlier this year. It also has been advertising at the Muni stations serving the Castro district.

Next month it is throwing a food and music festival in Golden Gate Park. The June 8 outdoor event is free to attend, though Chipotle food offerings will be priced $5 to $7, beers $6 and other drinks $2. There will also be other food vendors participating.

It remains to be seen if the company’s efforts will produce enough good will and community support to generate a positive vote at the Planning Commission.

The oversight panel’s meetings begin at noon Thursdays in Room 400 of City Hall. It posts each meeting’s agenda a week prior.



— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 2:57 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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