Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

Castro’s Pink Party to go from 3 to 8 p.m.

Castro Street is jam-packed during Pink Saturday 2012. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Castro Street is jam-packed during Pink Saturday 2012. Photo: Rick Gerharter

The Pink Party in San Francisco’s Castro district Saturday, June 27 will run from 3 to 8 p.m., organizers announced today (Thursday, May 7).

People involved with the festival, formerly known as Pink Saturday, have said for months that they planned to start and end the party earlier this year in an effort to reduce violence at the party, which had for years run much later. Last year’s event went from 5 to 10:30 p.m.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, which owns the Pink Saturday name and had coordinated the event for decades, announced in February that they wouldn’t produce this year’s festival. In April, the Sisters announced they’d voted not to allow the current planners, who include the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, not to use the Pink Saturday name. The Sisters plan to revamp their event at a different site for 2016. The center recently announced the Pink Party moniker.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on the Pink Party in the Thursday, May 14 edition.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 7, 2015 @ 1:26 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Man robbed in latest incident near Dolores Park

Dolores Park. Photo: Pete Thoshinsky.

Dolores Park. Photo: Pete Thoshinsky.

A 28-year-old man was robbed early Tuesday morning as he walked near San Francisco’s Dolores Park, the latest in a string of incidents at the same intersection in recent weeks.

The May 5 robbery occurred at 5 a.m. as the man was walking at 18th and Church streets, at the park’s border.

Two men approached him, pushed him down, went through his pockets, and took his money before fleeing the scene on foot.

Police described the suspects only as two black males.

The victim was left with abrasions to his hand. He didn’t go to the hospital.

As the Bay Area Reporter previously noted, a 48-year-old man was stabbed at the same site Monday, April 20.

Also, in a late entry reported this week, police said two men were robbed at 18th and Church at 11 p.m. Saturday, April 18.

In that incident, two suspects approached the victims, ages 26 and 28, and demanded they “give them everything they have,” Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman, said in a summary.

“Fearing for their safety,” the victims “put their arms up,” Esparza said.

The suspects took the men’s belongings out of their pockets and fled. No descriptions of the suspects are available.

Mexican identification and Social Security cards, a wallet, and a cellphone were taken in the incident, but the victims weren’t injured.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 6, 2015 @ 4:27 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Local NAACP backs gay police commissioner

Police Commissioner Julius Turman. Photo: Facebook

Police Commissioner Julius Turman. Photo: Facebook

The president of San Francisco’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People recently wrote to the city’s Board of Supervisors urging them to keep Julius Turman, a gay black attorney, on the police commission.

Turman, who’s been on the panel since 2011 and serves as its vice president, isn’t aware of anyone challenging him for his seat, but a San Francisco Examiner story has caused concern.

Reverend Amos Brown, the NAACP’s local chapter head, wrote in his letter to supervisors last week that member of his group “were unaware of any challenge or issue respecting” Turman’s reappointment “until we were apprised on this past Sunday” April 19, when the Examiner story ran.

Brown said in his April 22 letter that it’s the “unequivocal will” of the city’s NAACP branch that Turman be re-appointed to the commission “without any break in service.”

Turman’s term on the panel expired Thursday, April 30, according to Brown, who pointed to Turman’s “stellar qualifications.”

“He is an accomplished attorney,” and Turman “is intelligent, hard-working and knowledgeable about the myriad issues” facing the police department, “which disproportionately impact the African American, Latin, and poor communities” of the city, Brown said.

The Examiner noted that Turman is one of two black commissioners and said he’s currently leading efforts “to work with the black community on police relations,” but first, he has to go to the Rules Committee.

Supervisor John Avalos, the committee’s chair, told the Examiner that he expects the matter to come up at the May 14 meeting.

“I haven’t heard anything negative around” Turman, Avalos told the paper, but he said he wants time to vet “any candidate that is appointed.”

In an interview with the Bay Area Reporter today (Friday, May 1), Brown reiterated his support for Turman.

“That commission needs and must have commissioners who are sensitive to what time it is now, as regards relationships between the police and African American community,” Brown said.

Local law enforcement agencies have recently been embroiled in controversy, which has included allegations that several San Francisco police officers had exchanged racist and homophobic text messages.

Brown’s comments came the same day Marilyn Mosby, the Maryland state attorney for Baltimore, announced charges against Baltimore police officers she said are responsible for the death of Freddie Gray, an African American man who died after his arrest in April.

Brown referred to the August 2014 death of black Ferguson, Missouri resident Michael Brown, 18, who was unarmed when he was shot to death by a white police officer.

In a letter to San Francisco officials before that incident, Brown said, the local NAAC included a three-point plan calling for “quality, community-based policing,” “sensitivity training,” and “a diverse police force.”

“Mr. Turman was the one commissioner who came to several meetings, who sat and listened,” Brown said today. “He was not on the defensive, and he made the commitment to support our three-point policing program. … That’s why we support him, and we appeal to the Board of Supervisors to make sure he is reappointed to that commission.”

Turman told the B.A.R. that he hasn’t seen Brown’s letter.

“I have no comment on any of this,” he said. “I don’t know anything about there being an issue.”

Asked if there’s anyone challenging him, he said, “I have no information on this regard.”

However, Turman said, “No commissioner is or should believe himself or herself to be an automatic reappointment.”

He said he’s sure each supervisor will “do their due diligence to make sure that person has performed or will perform the duties required of them.”

Turman said there aren’t any supervisors he’s concerned about getting support from.

As for what his biggest achievement has been on the commission, or what he wants to do next, he said, “I think my record speaks for itself, and I am not presumptuous enough to assume anything at this point. That’s all I’ll say.”

Avalos was out of cellphone range today, according to his outgoing message, and his staff didn’t immediately provide comment to the B.A.R.

Gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener said Turman’s been “a terrific commissioner. He has my full support.”

“He’s been an exceptional police commissioner,” Wiener said. “He’s very diligent. Any time I’ve had any issues that need help from the commission, he’s been helpful.”

Turman was one of the panel’s members “who really played a key role” in updating police district boundaries this year, among other efforts, the supervisor said. That process included making the Duboce Triangle area part of the Park police station, which the LGBT-heavy neighborhood “really wanted,” Wiener said.

Gay District 9 Supervisor David Campos, who’s a former police commissioner, didn’t respond to an interview request.

Turman’s status on the police oversight panel wasn’t the only thing he wasn’t eager to discuss. He wouldn’t share his age.

“Are you seriously expecting me to answer that question?” he said, laughing. “I’m not going to answer that one. You have a good day.” He then hung up the phone.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 1, 2015 @ 6:01 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF zoning official rejects proposed pot dispensary in Castro district

A new gay-owned medical cannabis dispensary has been told it can not open in the upper Market Street storefront housing a record store.

A new gay-owned medical cannabis dispensary has been told it cannot open in the upper Market Street storefront housing a record store. (Courtesy Google Street View)

A medical cannabis dispensary that wants to open in San Francisco’s gay Castro district has run into zoning problems as it searches for a location.

Since the beginning of the year a gay couple has been scouting for a location to launch TGIF Membership Group, the name of their proposed dispensary.

After the storefront at 2350 Market Street, which currently houses Streetlight Records, was put on the market earlier this year, the couple asked the city’s planning department if the location was zoned to house a dispensary.

In a letter dated April 16, Zoning Administrator Scott Sanchez wrote that he had determined it was not. The reason cited was because the subject property is within 1,000 feet of Corona Heights Park, including the Randall Museum, which primarily serves persons under 18 years of age.

“Therefore, an MCD is not permitted at the subject property,” wrote Sanchez, who advised the couple they could appeal his determination with the Board of Appeals within 15 days of the date of his letter.

Desmond Morgan, the COO of TGIF Membership Group – the acronym stands for Thank God It’s Friday – told the Bay Area Reporter this afternoon (Friday, May 1) that he and his fiance, Romwald Connolly, who is the CEO in the business, would likely not appeal, and instead, would continue looking for a storefront that complies with the zoning rules.

“I think (we are) on the drawing board to find another location. I don’t know if I want to really fight the city on it,” said Morgan, who works in the pharmaceutical industry and moved from Seattle 15 years ago. “I don’t think it will change their minds.”

They are not the first proponents of a medical marijuana dispensary in the Castro district to run into zoning trouble. Five years ago a plan by two gay men to open a version of the Farmacy, a successful chain in the Los Angeles area, in the gayborhood faced the same issues with the city’s rules on where such businesses can be located.

In addition to adhering to the prohibition of being within 1,000 feet of a community facility and/or recreation center that primarily serves persons under 18 years of age, a medical cannabis dispensary in San Francisco can not be within 1,000 feet of a public or private elementary or secondary school.

So far the only dispensary near the heart of the Castro business district is the Apothecarium, at 2095 Market Street near Church. The straight-owned venture that donates to LGBT community groups opened in June of 2011 and often has lines out the door.

TGIF Membership Group has yet to meet with Castro neighborhood organizations about it plans, though the zoning administrator’s letter states it was sent to a number of the groups. Morgan said the couple was waiting to find a location before starting to do neighborhood outreach.

They are hopeful the neighborhood will welcome the addition of a gay-owned dispensary to the Castro.

“Yes, I am willing to go to another neighborhood, but we should be able to do business in and support our own community,” said Morgan, who was attracted to the enterprise due to seeing friends with brain tumors, cancer, and HIV benefit from using cannabis. “We are trying to see what we can do to find anything around there.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 3:31 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Castro Street tree well paving is permeable, says Wiener

When the new street trees along Castro Street were planted last year, the wells around the trees remained open.

When the new street trees along Castro Street were planted last year, the wells around the trees remained open.

As part of the streetscape improvement project along Castro Street, the city planted 63 street trees, mostly Columnar gingkos with a handful of King palms. When they debuted last fall, the dirt around the new greenery was left untouched.

In recent weeks landscape contractors the city hired to oversee the trees have been filling in the tree wells with a permeable substance.

But the work so closely resembles concrete that many people have been confused and think a mistake was made.

The issue has generated enough public feedback that District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents the Castro district, singled it out in his monthly newsletter that was emailed to constituents Thursday (April 30).

“We’ve heard from a number of concerned residents that the tree wells were being paved with concrete.  However, the substance in the tree wells isn’t cement, but rather stabilized decomposed granite (DG) per city standards,” wrote Wiener in his newsletter.

In recent weeks a permeable gravel has been added to the tree wells, though some have mistaken the substance for concrete. (Photo Craig Joyner)

In recent weeks a permeable gravel has been added to the tree wells, though some have mistaken the substance for concrete.
(Photo Craig Joyner)

The gray-colored DG was chosen to complement the color of the new wider sidewalks along the 400 and 500 blocks of Castro Street, explained Wiener. Yet the decision, he noted, has “led to confusion since most tree wells on San Francisco commercial corridors are paved with a gold-colored DG.”

The new surface treatment around the trees will not harm the plantings, he assured his constituents.

“Rest assured that stabilized decomposed granite is permeable, allowing air and moisture to penetrate assuring healthy roots and trees,” wrote Wiener.

In addition to the new trees dotting the expanded sidewalks along Castro Street, the city also installed new pedestrian light poles, history facts about the neighborhood, and 20 plaques honoring LGBT luminaries.

The landscape contractor is under contract to maintain the new trees for the next three years, according to Wiener’s note, as the trees become established.

In summer the ginkos bear yellow flowers, and come fall, their leaves turn a golden yellow. A deciduous tree, the ginkos shed their leaves in late fall.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 12:13 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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