Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Longtime public health official joins SF AIDS Foundation

Tracey Packer (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

Tracey Packer (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

The San Francisco AIDS Foundation announced Tuesday that Tracey Packer, who’s led HIV prevention initiatives at the city’s health department for more than a decade, will join the nonprofit as its senior director of programs and services.

In a news release November 10, AIDS foundation CEO Neil Giuliano said, “Tracey is highly-respected in the public health world, and throughout her career has made significant contributions to the city’s response to HIV. We are ecstatic to have Tracey join our team, and I am confident that her leadership will serve our staff, our clients, and the community immensely in the years to come.”

Packer, who’s a straight ally and begins her new post January 4, wasn’t immediately available for comment.

She most recently served as the health department’s director of community health equity and promotion, where she managed a budget of $17 million.

Packer also supervised more than 25 community-based organizations funded through city contracts and subcontracts, making her a familiar face for numerous local nonprofit officials.

In her new job at the AIDS foundation, which gets much of its $29 million budget from funds provided by the city, Packer will oversee HIV prevention and care programs. She’ll also collaborate with representatives from the city and state, among other duties.

Giuliano himself is leaving the nonprofit after being named in August as the president and CEO of Greater Phoenix Leadership, a business group in Arizona. A new AIDS foundation CEO hasn’t been selected.

The AIDS foundation has been set to open Strut, the gay and bi men’s health center at 470 Castro Street, this month. Andrew Hattori, a spokesman for the agency, said in an email Tuesday that he didn’t have an opening date to share, since state officials still haven’t approved a license for the center.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on the Packer story in the Thursday, November 19 edition.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, November 11, 2015 @ 1:49 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Local real estate firm wins community support for Castro satellite office

A real estate firm would like to open in this storefront at 2324 Market Street.

A real estate firm would like to open in this storefront at 2324 Market Street.

Despite the adoption this year of zoning rules aimed at stopping non-retail uses from moving into ground floor storefronts in the city’s Castro district, one local real estate firm has won community support to open a satellite office on upper Market Street.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted in June, Drysdale Properties, a local affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, in 2014 had planned to move into the roughly 280 square foot space at 2324 Market Street. But before it could open its doors, it was the target of neighborhood complaints for not seeking the required permits imposed on real estate offices wanting to open in ground floor retail spaces along upper Market Street.

The zoning controls, made permanent this spring by City Hall, aim to limit the number of real estate offices, as well as financial services and other non-retail uses, moving into ground floor storefronts on Market Street between Octavia Boulevard and Castro Street.

Seeking neighborhood support ahead of a hearing before the city’s planning commission, Drysdale owner Gretchen Pearson and real estate agent John Oldfield were back this morning (Thursday, November 5) before the Castro’s business association to plead their case.

“We realize the retail strategy report prefers different retail in this space. We support that report,” said Oldfield. “But it has been vacant for years. We are asking for an exception.”

He was referring to the Castro Retail Strategy released this summer that identifies the types of stores residents of the neighborhood would prefer see open along upper Market Street as well as Castro Street.

The Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District worked with the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association, the Castro/Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association, and the Castro Merchants group to develop the report.

The CBD and DTNA have both voted to support Drysdale Properties’s request to open at 2324 Market Street. The Castro/EVNA ended up voting against the company, while the Castro Merchants voted in support.

Years ago Drysdale had operated across the street in a space on the 2200 block of Market Street. It now wants to return to the Castro and use the storefront at 2324 Market Street as a satellite location for its main office on Polk Street.

When Oldfield and Pearson first went before the Castro Merchants group in June to present their plans, they addressed concerns that a real estate office would do little to activate the street. They noted that either an agent or a receptionist would work out of the space.

Other agents would utilize it when showing off properties in the Castro and surrounding neighborhoods. The office would be open on weekends, and Drysdale intends to install a window display of homes for sale to attract foot traffic at various hours.

Because the storefront lacks plumbing – there is access to a bathroom elsewhere in the building – Drysdale has argued it is not ideal for use by a more traditional retailer.

Yet D&H Sustainable Jewelers, which is located directly across the street at 2323 Market Street, had been interested in leasing the space in order to open a watch store. But it could not receive a response from the previous landlord for the building.

The locally-owened jewelry store’s interest to expand into the space was brought up again at this morning’s meeting. Yet Pearson countered that Drysdale is a locally- and woman-owned company.

She added that Drysdale is in talks with its landlord to lease an additional 279 square foot space on the second floor of the Market Street building. It comes with a beautiful chandelier, said Pearson, and could be used as a community meeting room for Castro groups and local nonprofits.

The city’s planning commission is expected to vote on Drysdale’s permit request to move into the 2324 Market Street retail space at an upcoming meeting.

— Matthew S. Bajko, November 5, 2015 @ 5:37 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Medical spa company eyes long vacant Castro storefront

A medical spa company would like to open in the vacant retail space at 410 Castro Street.

A medical spa company would like to open in the vacant retail space at 410 Castro Street.

A medical spa company is eying a long vacant Castro storefront to open its second San Francisco location sometime in 2016.

LaserAway Skin Care Spa, which was founded in West Hollywood, is in talks to open at 410 Castro Street, a small storefront in an old bank building in which SoulCycle recently opened. The building at the corner of Castro and Market fronts Harvey Milk Plaza above the Castro Muni Station and had been the site of a Diesel jeans store.

The spa would like to move into a 1,270 square foot retail space fronting Castro Street. The phone company Sprint had leased it for years, but it moved out over five years ago. Its lease, however, did not expire until the end of 2013.

LaserAway Skin Care Spa operates a store on Union Street in the city’s Cow Hollow district. It specializes in Botox treatments, laser hair removal, and laser tattoo removal as well as sells its own line of skincare products and other brands.

“Our Union Street location has been open five years. It is hugely popular there, why we need a second San Francisco location,” Jessica Heckmann, the company’s regional manager, told the Castro Merchants group at its monthly meeting this morning (Thursday, November 5).

The company is owned by physicians, noted Heckmann, and its services require medical staff to administer. It would also employ sales managers at the Castro store, which is expected to draw at least 30 customers per day.

“We would love to be open up on Castro Street,” Heckmann told the association for Castro business owners.

The spa would be open seven-days-a-week. Its services can take anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour or longer to administer.

Because LaserAway Skin Care Spa falls under the city’s definition of a formula retailer – it has 20 locations already in California, three in Arizona, and one in Las Vegas, Nevada – it is required to seek a conditional use permit in order to open the Castro store.

Today’s presentation to the merchants’ group was solely informational. It intends to return in early 2016 to seek its formal support before it presents its proposal to the city’s planning commission either in February or March.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 4:56 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Agency that helps sex workers raises fundraising goal

In this 2014 photo, St. James Infirmary's Executive Director Stephany Ashley, left, helps set up the needle exchange program with Dee Michel. Photo: Rick Gerharter

In this 2014 photo, St. James Infirmary’s Executive Director Stephany Ashley, left, helps set up the needle exchange program with Dee Michel. Photo: Rick Gerharter

St. James Infirmary, the San Francisco nonprofit that provides free medical care, food, and other assistance to sex workers, has raised its fundraising goal as it seeks a new home in one of the country’s most competitive real estate markets.

The organization is being forced to relocate as Mercy Housing California, the agency that owns St. James’ Mission Street building, is selling the property. The prospective owners aren’t renewing the nonprofit’s lease.

St. James, which has to be out of 1372 Mission by early January, recently launched a Gofundme campaign with a goal of raising $25,000 in 30 days. That goal was quickly surpassed, as the agency brought in more than that in just three days.

Monday, St. James Executive Director Stephany Ashley posted a note on the crowdfunding site saying that her group was raising its goal to $40,000.

“The outpouring of love and support for our relocation efforts continues to astound and inspire us,” Ashley, who identifies as queer, said.

She said that another set of donors is pledging $10,000 in matching funds.

“We now have 10 weeks left to secure a site, renovate, and relocate our operations in order to reopen without disruption to service,” Ashley said. “With those 10 weeks being right in the middle of the holiday season, it’s going to be a tight turnaround! To ensure that we can pull it off, we are increasing our grassroots fundraising goal to $40,000. This money will allow us to cover our construction and relocation costs without having to drain resources from our programs or staffing budget.”

St. James’ total budget is $750,000.

As of Wednesday, the nonprofit had made more than $30,000 through the online campaign. An anonymous donor is matching the first $25,000, bringing the total raised so far to more than $55,000.

Transgender, Gender Variant, and Intersex Justice Project, which helps transgender people who are incarcerated and shares office space with St. James, plans to move with the group.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 11:15 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Police seek hatchet-carrying, gender non-conforming robbery suspect

San Francisco police are seeking a hatchet-carrying, gender non-conforming person who stole a purse from a downtown Bloomingdale’s Monday

According to a summary from Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman, the suspect walked into the department store at Westfield Mall, 845 Market Street, at 1:10 p.m. and took the handbag.

When security approached the suspect, the thief produced a weapon, which Esparza described as an ax or “short hatchet,” out of their bag and threatened the security personnel.

The victim, 27, backed off and the suspect fled on a bicycle.

The suspect is in their 40s, is six feet tall, and weighs less than 200 pounds.

Although Esparza described the suspect as transgender, it’s not possible to tell for sure if that’s how the suspect identifies, and if the suspect identifies as male or female. Esparza didn’t immediately respond to an email asking whether the suspect was dressed as a man or woman.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, November 4, 2015 @ 5:08 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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