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

SF Planning Commission approves LGBT shelter permits

Dolores Street Community Services' homeless shelter at 1050 South Van Ness may be expanded to be welcoming to LGBT homeless people. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Dolores Street Community Services’ homeless shelter at 1050 South Van Ness may be expanded to be welcoming to LGBT homeless people. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

A proposed homeless shelter space focused on LGBTs cleared a hurdle Thursday (August 15) as the seven-member San Francisco Planning Commission unanimously approved needed permits for the site.

Advocates and elected officials have been pushing for the 24-bed space, to be located at 1050 South Van Ness Avenue, since a March 2010 Board of Supervisors hearing in which several LGBTs told of harassment they’d experienced at the city’s shelters.  

Dolores Street Community Service will operate the space.

In July, Dolores Street Executive Director Wendy Phillips said, “Providing everything goes well with the permits,” construction could start in September or October. The goal is to open the space by January.

“I’m very excited,” said out gay District 9 Supervisor David Campos in a call after Thursday’s hearing. Campos, who represents the Mission district where the space is located, has been a key backer of the project.

“I’m very hopeful,” he said. “Our objective right now is to open this as quickly as we can.”

However, added Campos, “This is not a panacea. It’s not an answer to the entire problem, but it’s a step in the right direction. My hope is that we can have more spaces like this one throughout the shelter system and we also create a more welcoming environment in all the other shelters.”

Wendy Phillips, executive director of Dolores Street Community Services, said she was thrilled with the approval.

“We are thrilled, not only with the planning commission’s
approval, but with the outpouring of community support for this project. We
received over a dozen support letters from allied organizations, and many
community members came out to the hearing today to speak to the tremendous need
for this shelter,” Phillips said. “The commissioners even remarked about how moved they were by
the testimony, and were surprised to hear that an adult LGBT shelter didn’t
already exist. So we are very proud to be able to provide this resource to the
community and are anxious to get started on the construction.”

Phillips added, “As far as next steps, we will plan a meeting with our project team in the next
week or so, to create a construction timeline and get going to get the upgrades
done so we can get the shelter open as soon as possible.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, August 15, 2013 @ 4:20 pm PST
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North Bay LGBT retirement community to host mixer, preview

Fountaingrove Lodge, a premier 10-acre LGBT retirement community located in Santa Rosa, will host an LGBT professional mixer Wednesday, August 21 and offer a preview of the apartments and amenities.


The mixer is free to attend and will provide the opportunity to make new business connections, tour the community’s newly constructed models, and get a taste of life at Fountaingrove Lodge (pictured at left).

A signature community by award-winning builder Oakmont Senior Living, Fountaingrove Lodge will offer LGBT seniors the opportunity to live an enjoy retired life in a community of friends.

In addition to comfortable, spacious apartments, Fountaingrove include amenities such as indoor and outdoor gourmet dining, a fully equipped fitness center, wine cellar, art studio, move theater, concierge, housekeeping, and chauffeured transportation.

Next week’s mixer begins at 6:30 p.m. at Fountaingrove Lodge, 4210 Thomas Lake Harris Drive, Santa Rosa. To RSVP, call (707) 576-1101 by Friday, August 16.

— Cynthia Laird, @ 10:46 am PST
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EQCA not participating in Stoli contest

Equality California has confirmed to the Bay Area Reporter that it is not participating in Wednesday’s Most Original Stoli Guy Live event in San Francisco.

(Courtesy Petrelis Files)

(Courtesy Petrelis Files)

Earlier Tuesday, Oscar Raymundo of GayCities and Queerty, which is promoting the Stoli event, sent out an email stating that EQCA would be receiving a $5 per person donation. The decision to have local beneficiaries was apparently made because of pressure by some gay activists to boycott Stoli products due to the ongoing controversy over Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law.

Raymundo’s email said that GayCities had asked SPI Group, Stoli’s parent company, “to donate $5 for every person who RSVPs and attends” the Stoli Guy Live event, which takes place at Beatbox, 314 11th Street. B.A.R. society columnist Donna Sachet is one of the performers.

But it appears that Raymundo sent out the email before getting confirmation from EQCA. Spokesman Jesse Melgar told the B.A.R. Tuesday afternoon that the gay rights group is “not participating in this event in any way.”

Raymundo attributed the mix-up to “miscommunication.”

At any rate, local activist Michael Petrelis and others plan to dump Stoli vodka outside of the venue Wednesday to protest Russia’s anti-gay law. The new law includes stiff fines and jail time for Russian citizens who “propagate” homosexuality to minors. This could include hand-holding and other public displays of affection, and broadcasting positive news stories about LGBT people. Russian President Vladimir Putin claims that he’s not homophobic, and that he considered it his duty to protect the rights of sexual minorities.

— Cynthia Laird, August 13, 2013 @ 4:01 pm PST
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SF gay burlesque club drops plans to buy Castro building

Diesel Store spaceA group of investors who had announced they were buying a building in San Francisco’s gay Castro district to open the flagship location for a new chain of gay male burlesque venues has abandoned those plans, the Bay Area Reporter has learned.

According to sources, the company RR-SF, which stands for Randy Rooster, over a month ago withdrew its offer to purchase 400 Castro Street for $7.7 million. The now vacant historic building had housed the clothing chain Diesel and sits adjacent to Harvey Milk Plaza and the Castro Muni station.

The proposal had met with fiercely negative neighborhood reaction, partly due to the batched roll-out of the proposed gay gentlemen’s club. News about the venue first leaked online and had described it as a gay strip club that would feature nude performers.

The investor group behind RR-SF failed to immediately address the Internet reports to refute the nudity claims. And their presentation to a Castro merchants group in May left more questions than answers about what the project would actually entail.

It remains unclear whether the investors intend to look for a different location, either in the Castro or elsewhere in the city, or if their proposal is now entirely dead.

Attempts to reach Robert Andrew Casey, listed as, Inc.’s chief operating officer and director, were unsuccessful today (Friday, August 9). His cell phone has been disconnected.

An email to the spokeswoman who released a press statement about Randy Rooster’s plans resulted in a message that she was out of the office until next week. And her associate did not immediately respond to the B.A.R.‘s questions.

Sarah Brett, a sales associate with Colliers International’s San Francisco office, confirmed to the B.A.R. that the Randy Rooster group had opted to withdraw from escrow earlier this summer. She said the building can still be purchased and that the two retail spaces remain available for lease.

“We would very much like to find a tenant for both spaces,” said Brett.

According to the online listing, the main retail space fronting Harvey Milk Plaza totals 3,760 square feet. A second, smaller storefront fronting Castro Street measures 1,270 square feet. (The phone company Sprint has leased it for years but that expires in December.)

The rents for both are “negotiable,” according to the listing.

Brett said they are open to hearing from both local retailers and chain stores about the storefronts. But due to the recent adoption of rules aimed at keeping formula retailers out of such prominent corner storefronts, interest from national retailers has waned a bit for that location, she said.

“There has been some hesitancy for formula retailers to look at the space,” said Brett.

Because it had been leased by Diesel, an international brand, a formula retailer with strong neighborhood support could still apply to open in the space, noted Brett, despite the recently adopted rules.

As the listing notes, the building’s larger retail space provides for a “fantastic opportunity in the Castro, high ceilings, exposed brick, great windows and signage availability. This space is ideally located at the crossroads of the Castro district and busy Market Street.”







— Matthew S. Bajko, August 9, 2013 @ 1:51 pm PST
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Gay CA senators address anti-gay Olympics controversy

CA Senator Mark Leno

CA Senator Mark Leno

A pair of gay California state Senators are calling on officials at two state employee pension funds to disinvest from Russia due to its anti-gay laws.

Senators Ricardo Lara (D-Los Angeles) and Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) plan to introduce a resolution Monday, August 12 aimed at encouraging both the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System to discontinue directly investing in Russia and to encourage companies in which employee retirement funds are invested and that are doing business in Russia not to take actions that promote or otherwise enable human rights violations in the country.

“The anti-gay laws recently passed in Russia are an unconscionable affront to LGBT people across the world, not just those who live in that country,” stated Leno in a news release issued today (Friday, August 9) announcing the proposed resolution. “Californians cannot silently sit back and tacitly condone these practices by continuing to invest in and support Russian enterprises. CalPERS and CalSTRS are well placed to use their economic clout to make a strong statement that it’s unacceptable to persecute and discriminate against individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

International and domestic attention to Russia’s draconian anti-gay laws has been escalating in recent weeks as LGBT people around the globe speak out about the issue and call for boycotts of both Russian vodka brands and the 2014 Winter Olympics, set to take place in the Russian resort town of Sochi.

This week President Barack Obama publicly condemned the laws and cited them as one of the reasons his administration canceled a planned summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. At a White House press conference Friday, Obama said he opposes a boycott of the Olympics and would rather see “some gay or lesbian athletes … bring home the gold or silver or bronze,” adding, “If Russia doesn’t have gay or lesbian athletes, it will probably make their team weaker.”

The controversy has led to demonstrations outside Russian consulates and images of LGBT people pouring out Stolichnaya vodka.

If adopted, Leno’s and Lara’s Senate resolution would be a formal condemnation by the California legislative body against the Russian government’s attacks on the LGBT community and laws targeting LGBT people and their supporters, including tourists and participants in the Olympics.

It also calls upon NBCUniversal to address the homophobic laws during its Olympic coverage, particularly during the broadcasts of the opening and closing ceremonies, and to point out the threat they pose to participating athletes and visitors at the international sporting competition.

The Senate resolution also asks Olympic officials to ensure the anti-gay laws will not be used against athletes or visitors and requests American congressional leaders and the Obama administration to press their Russian counterparts and leaders of other countries with anti-gay laws to decriminalize homosexuality.

“California does not tolerate discrimination and we certainly shouldn’t invest in it!” stated John O’Connor, executive director of the statewide LGBT advocacy group Equality California. “By urging the state’s two largest pension plans to cease Russian investments, we are making a bold gesture against hateful policies and a firm stance in defense of equality. Our investments should align with our values, and never reward discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 12:27 pm PST
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UCSF hires director of its Center for LGBT Health and Equity

Larry D. Lariosa (Courtesy UCSF)

Larry D. Lariosa (Courtesy UCSF)

Nearly a year after its founding director resigned to work for a national LGBT rights organization, the Center for LGBT Health and Equity at UCSF has a new director.

Leading it will be Larry D. Lariosa, MA, a licensed marriage and family therapist, who has also been hired as a diversity program manager and LGBT specialist in the campus’ Office of Diversity and Outreach.

He will report directly to Renee Chapman Navarro, MD, PharmD, vice chancellor of diversity and outreach at UCSF.

“We are delighted to have Larry join the Office of Diversity and Outreach,” stated Navarro in story about his hiring posted to the university’s website.  “His expertise and experience in working with diverse populations makes him an ideal fit for this critical position at UCSF. I look forward to Larry working with the campus and medical center to continue and strengthen the great work that has put UCSF on the map for raising awareness for critical diversity issues including LGBT health care and equity.”

The initial hiring announcement on June 26 was largely overlooked, as it was made the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the two same-sex marriage cases.

In a recent email to the Bay Area Reporter to highlight Lariosa’s hiring, Navarro wrote, “We are so pleased to have this excellent leader as a part of the Diversity and Outreach Team.”

The B.A.R.’s request for an in-person interview with Lariosa to discuss his hiring and plans for the center going forward were denied this week. Jennifer O’Brien, executive director of public affairs at UCSF, wrote in an email that while Lariosa “is very interested in speaking with you,” he would not be able to do so until November or early December.

“He has just recently come on board and is extremely busy getting the Resource Center organized for the new academic year,” wrote O’Brien. “A few months out he will be able to talk about the efforts in progress. He currently is assessing the needs of the LGBT community on campus.”

Campus concerns about the status of the LGBT health center broke into the public earlier this year as the director position remained vacant following the departure of founding director Shane Snowdon last summer. Snowdon, who launched the center in 1998, resigned after being hired by the Human Rights Campaign to oversee its LGBT health initiatives.

The issue prompted a meeting last fall between the UCSF Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on LGBT Issues and Navarro. Months later, when word spread on campus that Navarro had re-categorized the position to being a diversity program manager/LGBT specialist, the negative reaction to the news resulted in an anonymous email being sent to the Bay Area Reporter and to aides of several gay lawmakers in Sacramento that was critical of the decision and lashed out at UCSF officials.

In both an email sent to UCSF staff and an interview with the B.A.R. this past winter, Navarro refuted the complaints about the director position being made half-time instead of the sole focus of the job. She pledged that the LGBT health center would remain a priority for whoever was hired in the position.

According to the hiring announcement, it is clear that Lariosa will be juggling numerous responsibilities in his new job. He is being tasked with designing, executing and assessing diversity and outreach programs for both Navarro’s office and campus-wide, including at the UCSF Medical Center and the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.

In addition to those duties will be his directorship of the LGBT health center. Lariosa will “provide sensitive, multi-faceted resources and support for LGBT students, staff, faculty, residents, post-docs, fellows and patients,” according to the announcement.

His responsibilities also include advocating for campus- and system-wide policy changes to reduce LGBT bias and increase “inclusion and visibility of the LGBT community.” Lariosa will also serve as a “consultant to units and departments campus-wide on general diversity matters as well as LGBT issues, provide focused education and trainings, and collaborate with the faculty and administrators to evaluate the curricula through the lens of diversity for all four professional schools and the Graduate Division.”

According to the announcement Lariosa has either worked for or collaborated with the now-defunct New Leaf Services for Our Community, Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center, the UCSF AIDS Health Project, the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, and the San Francisco Unified School District.

In 2011, Lariosa was appointed to both the UCSF Chancellor Advisory Committee on GLBT Issues and the University of California Mental Health Oversight Committee.

In 1998, he graduated San Francisco State University with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Gay and Lesbian Studies. In 2002, he received a Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology at UCSF.


— Matthew S. Bajko, August 8, 2013 @ 5:30 pm PST
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Obama honors Ride, Rustin

President Barack Obama has named lesbian astronaut Sally Ride and gay civil rights icon Bayard Rustin as 2013 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced Thursday (August 8).

Astronaut Sally Ride

Astronaut Sally Ride

Ride, the first American female astronaut to travel to space, “advocated passionately for science education, stood up for racial and gender equality in the classroom, and taught students from every background that there are no limits to what they can accomplish,” White House officials said in a news release. She also advised several administrations on space exploration. She died in 2012.

Rustin advised civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He was “an unyielding activist for civil rights, dignity, and equality for all,” White House staff stated. He died in 1987.


Civil rights icon Bayard Rustin (Photo: Associated Press)

“The Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to men and women who have dedicated their own lives to enriching ours,” Obama said of the country’s highest civilian honor. “This year’s honorees have been blessed with extraordinary talent, but what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world. It will be my honor to present them with a token of our nation’s gratitude.”

Other honorees this year include former President Bill Clinton, country singer Loretta Lynn, activist Gloria Steinem, and actress and talk show host Oprah Winfrey.

The awards will be presented at the White House later this year, which marks the 50th anniversary of the honor’s establishment.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 2:03 pm PST
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Campos aims to address Mission violence through gun buyback

David Campos (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

David Campos (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Out gay Supervisor David Campos is joining Mayor Ed Lee Thursday (August 8) to sponsor a gun buyback event in San Francisco’s Mission district.

The program is aimed at decreasing the availability of guns in the neighborhood, where concerns have included violence against Latina transgender women.

“LGBT safety is a priority for my office,” stated Campos, whose District 9 includes the Mission. “This gun buyback is part of our overall strategy to improve safety for all of our residents, including our LGBT neighbors. As we remove guns from the streets, we are also working to protect transgendered women in the Mission and improve relationships” between the San Francisco Police Department and LGBTs “so that folks feel safe reporting crimes.”

The  buyback is from 6-8 p.m. at the US Bank parking lot, at the corner of 22nd and Capp streets. Guns in working condition will be exchanged for $100, with no questions asked. Assault weapons will bring $200.

This is the first time Campos has sponsored such an event. He’s using the majority of his $100,000 discretionary fund to support the program. Each supervisor is allotted a discretionary fund every year.

Central American Resource Center, a Mission-based community organization that works with at-risk youth, is working with Campos and Lee on the program. Visit the group’s website for more information on the gun buyback.



— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 12:44 pm PST
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Planning Commission approves permit for Castro eatery the Patio Cafe

An archiect's rendering shows the Patio Cafe's new floorspace design.

An architect’s rendering shows the Patio Cafe’s new floorspace design.

A decade-long effort to remodel and reopen the Patio Cafe took one step closer to fruition tonight (Thursday, August 1) when the Planning Commission voted to grant the Castro eatery the necessary permits it needs to welcome back diners.

It could open its doors as early as mid-September.

The commissioners on a 6-1 vote approved a conditional use permit so that the Patio, located at 531 Castro Street, could increase its seating due to taking over several small retail spaces to use for a bar and lounge area.

“It is nicely renovated, which we should be encouraging people to do when they take properties and upgrade them,” said commissioner Michael Antonini.

Commissioner Gwyneth Borden voted against the item. She did not state a specific reason other than to say, “I cannot support this applicant.”

Several anonymous letters, which are believed to have come from residents on Hartford Street which runs behind the Patio, were sent in to the commission raising concerns about the hours and noise emanating from the outdoor eating area.

The restaurant’s retractable roof over the eating area will be closed nightly at 9 p.m.

A handful of speakers turned out to support the Patio’s permit; no one spoke in opposition during the roughly 30 minute hearing.

“I am in favor of this project. It will contribute to the economic vitality of the neighborhood,” said Crispin Hollings, who lives a block away.

Owner Les Natali attended the hearing but did not speak.

His land use attorney, John Kevlin, with the law firm Reuben, Junius and Rose LLP, said, “Les is obviously anxious to open. It could be as soon as 30 days after this hearing.”

As the Bay Area Reporter noted in a story earlier this year,  in May 2012 Natali had planned to reopen the Patio, which closed in 2002. But a routine health department inquiry related to his request for an occupancy permit led to a determination that his planning permits were not in order.

At the crux of the snafu was a zoning prohibition placed on the eatery in 1992 that stipulated a seating capacity of 160 people. Any expansion required Natali to seek a new permit.

However, when he sought city approval in 2005 to expand the restaurant into several retail spaces fronting Castro Street, city planners at the time neglected to have Natali apply for the necessary permits in order to exceed the capacity cap. The Patio Cafe’s occupancy will go from 160 people to 171.

The mistake was not caught until last spring. After first trying to fight the planning department’s determination he needed to apply for a conditional use permit, Natali relented and did so this year.

In June Natali told the B.A.R. that he was in talks with two interested parties to run the Patio Cafe – they would be required to keep the name – but did not disclose their identities. He is expected to soon announce who the operator will be now that his permit has been approved.

The Patio’s bar and seating area fronting Castro Street will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week. There will also be a take-out service.

The back bar and outdoor seating area will be open from 11 a.m. to midnight seven days a week.



— Matthew S. Bajko, August 1, 2013 @ 5:25 pm PST
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See’s Candies, Illy coffee shop plan to open Castro stores

A new coffee shop is headed to where a frame store once was on upper Market Street. (Photo: Google)

A new coffee shop is headed to where a frame store once was on upper Market Street. (Photo: Google)

A new Italian-inspired coffee shop and an outlet of a famous local chocolatier are headed to the city’s gay Castro district this fall.

The second Espressamente Illy cafe in San Francisco is planning an October opening at 2349 Market Street. It will be the company’s ninth in America, and therefore, did not trigger San Francisco’s rules governing formula retail chains as it only applies to those with more than 11 American outlets.

The vacant storefront formerly had housed a frame store, while a proposal to revamp it as a new bar was withdrawn due to neighborhood opposition.

Instead, Joe Gurdock and his business partner Steve Walker landed the lease in order to expand into the neighborhood where Gurdock attended elementary school. (He was a student at what is now the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy and met famed gay disco star Sylvester, who would entertain the school kids.)

“We will build out an authentic Italian cafe” in the 1,600 square foot space, Gurdock told Castro merchants at their monthly meeting this morning (Thursday, August 1).

Founded in 1933 by Francesco Illy, the company produces and sells worldwide a single blend of premium quality espresso coffee that is sold at various high-end retailers. It also works with local franchise owners to open Illy-branded cafes in their hometowns.

Two years ago Gurdock opened his first Illy cafe at 123 Battery Street downtown. He has worked with famed local chef Joyce Goldstein to develop the stores’ lunch menus, which include Italian meat and salmon sandwiches, frittatas, and a tuna and white bean salad.

The drinks and food “will be served in glassware and porcelain,” said Gurdock, as customers are “meant to hang out there.”

The Castro location will have a communal table for eight people, a lounge area and table seating with free Wi-Fi. Its hours likely will be from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.

Planning staff recently granted Gurdock his change of use permit for the storefront, and he is shooting for an October 15 opening date. There is also a backyard patio that won’t immediately be opened to customers but could be in the future.

“It will be a place for people to gather and socialize in a non-alcoholic venue,” he said.

See’s Candies eyes spot next to Safeway

The grand opening of a See's Candies in Oklahoma with the company's trademark tile work.

The grand opening of a See’s Candies in Oklahoma with the company’s trademark tile work.

Down the street at the Safeway shopping plaza, South San Francisco-based See’s Candies would like to open in the 1,900 square foot space that had been occupied by Mike’s Cameras, formerly known as Wolf Camera.

The photography store is closing that location at 2016 Market Street. It would be See’s first location in the Castro and the company would like to be open in time for the Christmas shopping season.

The company does fall under the city’s formula retail rules, and thus, will need to seek a conditional use permit from the planning commission. Due to it also being next to the major grocery chain and a Jamba Juice, it is expected to trigger the new rule along upper Market Street that requires a formula retailer that brings the number of chain stores within a 300-foot radius to 20 percent or higher not be recommended for approval by planning staff.

But the policy is meant to be flexible, and the planning commission could vote to allow See’s to open if it has considerable neighborhood support. So far it does not appear it will be hotly contested, and the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro voted to endorse its permit application.

“We are expecting with planning staff that they have to follow the mandate and recommend denial, but they are not fundamentally opposed to our use,” said Ahmad Mohazab, with Tecta Associates, the architect working on the project. “We consider ourselves to be a local company. Our first San Francisco store opened in 1936.”

According to See’s website, Charles See along with his mother and his wife, Florence, opened their first candy shop and kitchen on Western Avenue in Los Angeles in November of 1921. The company expanded throughout California following World War II as the state’s population grew.

In 1972, the See’s family sold the company to Berkshire Hathaway Inc., presided over by Chairman Warren Buffett. Today there are more than 200 See’s chocolate shops around the world with factories located in both Los Angeles and South San Francisco.

The company has long donated its products to local LGBT and AIDS charities, from the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus to the AIDS Emergency Fund. More recently it became a donor to the Castro Country Club; Mohazab worked on the club’s renovation plans and a build-out of an eatery in its garage space that is now beginning construction.

David Friedman, See’s director of real estate, said the company would look to increase its financial giving to LGBT groups now that it is pursuing a site in the city’s gayborhood.

The company hopes to go before the Planning Commission by October in order to open by mid-December.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 4:13 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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