Issue:  Vol. 44 / No. 38 / 18 September 2014
 

Second Castro history project to debut in early October

A view of Castro Street (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

A view of Castro Street (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

A series of historical factoids about San Francisco’s Castro district that will be etched in cement along Castro Street will have its official debut the weekend of this year’s annual Castro Street Fair.

Officially known as the Castro Street History Walk, the project will feature 20 facts about the neighborhood placed into the sidewalks on the 400 and 500 blocks of Castro Street. It is part of the sidewalk-widening project currently under way and is being funded by the Castro Upper Market Community Benefit District, at a cost of $10,000.

It is meant to cover the breadth of the neighborhood’s 230-year history, beginning with the Native Americans who called it home, then the various Europeans who moved into what became known as Eureka Valley, and later migrations of LGBT residents who referred to it as the Castro.

The history walk is separate from the Rainbow Honor Walk, which earlier this month unveiled 20 bronze plaques along the streets of the Castro that honor deceased LGBT individuals. After that project garnered unflattering headlines due to spelling errors discovered after the plaques went public, CBD officials assured community leaders in an email sent today (Friday, September 19) that they are hopeful they won’t make the same mistake.

“We did pay for a copy editor to review and make sure everything was A OK…(I hope he didn’t miss anything!),” wrote CBD Executive Director Andrea Aiello.

The CBD said it expects the history facts to be put in the sidewalk beginning Monday, September 29.  The unveiling will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, October 3 with a ceremony at Harvey Milk Plaza near where the history walk begins.

 

— Matthew S. Bajko, September 19, 2014 @ 3:16 pm PST
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SF panel approves plans for leather bar site

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The gutted second floor bar space at 1501 Folsom Street, the former home of Febe’s leather bar. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

San Francisco’s Planning Commission has unanimously approved plans to convert the former home of a historic South of Market leather bar into a nightclub and restaurant.

Leticia Luna, 61, who has a long history with LGBT businesses, is planning to feature Salsa music and considering a fusion of Mexican and seafood at her new business, which she plans to call Calle Once.

The 1501 Folsom Street venue, at the intersection with Eleventh Street, once housed Febe’s, which was the first leather bar on Folsom when it opened its doors in 1966. The bar closed 20 years later.

The six commissioners present Thursday, September 18 all voted in favor of Luna’s conditional use proposal to expand the existing nighttime entertainment use and establish an outdoor activity area.

Luna, who’s straight, has said she’s open to including the leather community in her new business.

“The leather crowd put me on the map,” she said. “How can I ever forget them? I would love to have a leather night, with somebody that could help me promote it. It’s going to be a nice space.” She hopes to open Calle Once by July.

In a phone message after the vote, Luna said, “I’m very happy, and now I have the green light to start my plans on Eleventh Street.”

Planning Department staffer Brittany Bendix said Thursday that conditions include “routinely” maintaining the sidewalk and abiding by “more stringent noise controls” than normal for the rooftop restaurant because of the site’s proximity to a live-work building. The restaurant would include outdoor seating.

Luna told commissioners that the business would offer people “one stop” to have dinner and see live music.

She said at the restaurant, “Our last serving will be 11 o’clock [p.m.] so everybody will be out by 12.”

Noise mitigation will also include double-pane windows, and Luna’s hired a sound engineer to work on the project.

There has been little public opposition to the plans, and Mike Talley, 57, a self-described gay leatherman, was the only person who spoke during public comment.

Talley presented a petition and asked commissioners to deny Luna’s request, expressing concern about honoring the site’s “extreme historical significance to my community,” and he said he wants the building to “get the landmark status that it truly deserves.” (Making the building a historical landmark would be handled by another commission.)

Talley had told the Bay Area Reporter he believed Luna would demolish the building, but he didn’t mention that concern Thursday, and he offered little explanation for his opposition.

Gay Commissioner Dennis Richards asked Tally “what grounds” he had for requesting the denial.

Talley said, “It’s a landmark building” and he was concerned the proposed “overdeveloped construction” would “damage the historical integrity” of the site.

Richards pointed out that Luna would just be adding to the roof of the building, which has already been altered inside over the years and gutted, leaving little trace of the former leather bar.

He also told Luna, “You’ve been a great operator,” and noted she even had a letter of support from a nearby funeral home.

“I do struggle” with the third-floor addition, he said, but the building doesn’t have an official historical rating.

After some discussion of height limits in the area, he said the proposed third floor “respects the existing structure as it is, and I support the project.”

He did add the condition of having a double door for people entering and leaving the building “to keep the sound in,” and a six-month review “for the neighbors.”

Commissioner Mike Antonini said it “sounds like a good project” but suggested another condition – having “some recognition” inside the building of the site’s historic significance. With their approval, the other commissioners agreed.

Luna said that after the meeting, she spoke with Talley, who hadn’t approached her about her plans before.

“I told him I’d be happy to do a plaque,” she said. “… I’m hoping we can work something out together.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 18, 2014 @ 6:03 pm PST
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Brown signs birth certificate, syringe bills into law

Governor Jerry Brown (Photo: Lydia Gonzales)

Governor Jerry Brown (Photo: Lydia Gonzales)

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law a bill that allows same-sex parents more options to identify their relationships to their children, as well as legislation that will make it easier for intravenous drug users to have access to clean needles through 2020. Brown signed the bills Monday, September 15.

Assembly Bill 1951, authored by Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) modernizes California birth certificates by allowing each parent to identify as mother, father or parent.

“I authored this bill to say that it’s okay to have two mothers or fathers,” Gomez said in a news release Tuesday, September 16. “I believe that parents do see themselves as a mother or a father and that they want to express that on their child’s birth certificate. We should give people the flexibility to accurately reflect their relationship with their child.”

Gomez added, “In the long term, this will change the way people view the family structure and view each other. In the future, it won’t be a debate; it will be something that is commonly accepted.”

Currently, parents are required to select “Mother/Parent” and “Father/Parent.” AB 1951 requires the Department of Public Health to change birth certificates so that they include a line for each parent’s name with boxes to choose “Mother,” “Father,” or “Parent.”

The new law goes into effect in January 2016. Same-sex couples who currently have children will be able to update their child’s birth certificate to the new format starting in 2016.

Syringes

Also Monday, Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 1743, the Safe Syringe Access Act.

Initially, Assemblyman Phil Ting’s legislation would have ended the need for lawmakers to re-address the issue. But the Democrat from San Francisco added a five-year sunset to his bill to address objections raised by public safety groups.

Under state law, pharmacists have been allowed to sell up to 30 syringes without a prescription. But the legislation had been set to sunset on January 1, and without lawmakers extending the law, syringe sales would have remained legal in just 15 counties and four cities, including San Francisco.

The new law removes the cap placed on the number of syringes a person could buy at one time.

“It has taken many years to win this fight but California will finally start treating syringe access as a public health issue,” Ting said in a news release Tuesday. “We dithered while the rest of the nation aggressively expanded access to save lives and tax dollars. That makes this victory both exciting and overdue. This is a landmark reform for California.”

In a statement issued after the Legislature passed his bill in August, he said, “Syringes can be bought over the counter in nearly every state because the policy saves lives without taxpayer expense. Mountains of research and the medical community stand squarely behind this bill.”

With access to clean syringes an effective tool in preventing the transmission of HIV and hepatitis, AIDS advocates pushed for passage of Ting’s bill. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Drug Policy Alliance are its lead sponsors.

Neil Giuliano, the AIDS foundation’s CEO, has applauded Ting’s work.

“We salute Assemblyman Ting for his leadership on this issue, which will help thousands of people throughout the state and reduce the burden of HIV and [the hepatitis C virus] on our public health system,” Giuliano stated in February. “As operator of one of the oldest and largest syringe access programs in the country, we know the significant impact that access to sterile syringes can have in preventing blood-borne illnesses like HIV and HCV among people in our community at high risk for infection.”

In August, Laura Thomas, deputy state director for the Drug Policy Alliance, stated Ting’s bill is “an exciting breakthrough.”

“Pharmacy syringe access is a proven and cost-effective way to save lives by reducing the spread of HIV and hepatitis,” Thomas said. “It has taken years of advocacy to receive such strong support for sterile syringe access inside the state Capitol.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 16, 2014 @ 11:03 am PST
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EQCA endorses Kaplan for Oakland mayor

Equality California announced late Friday afternoon that it has endorsed out Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan in the race for Oakland mayor.

Oakland mayoral candidate Rebecca Kaplan (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

Oakland mayoral candidate Rebecca Kaplan (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

The news comes days after a poll showed Kaplan first in the 15-candidate field, leading incumbent Mayor Jean Quan by 22 percent.

EQCA described Kaplan as a “strong, well-qualified” candidate in a news release, which also included endorsements for other local races throughout the state.

“These are strong, well-qualified candidates, and they’re also all proud members of California’s LGBT community. Not only is it vital to have LGBT voices represented at all levels of government, but local races are often an important stepping stone for higher office,” said Rick Zbur, EQCA executive director. “Helping grow the bench of LGBT elected officials is important to the mission of Equality California, and we’re proud to endorse these six candidates.”

Kaplan, 43, has been a prominent LGBT voice in Oakland for more than a decade.

“Her leadership on issues ranging from LGBT youth funding to the relaunch of Oakland Pride illustrate her deep understanding of and commitment to the needs and priorities of the local LGBT community,” the EQCA release said. If elected, she would be Oakland’s first openly LGBT mayor.

Kaplan’s campaign said it was “thrilled” with the news.

“We’re thrilled and honored to have the support of an organization that’s been such a strong leader on social justice and equality for all,” Kaplan campaign manager Jason Overman told the Bay Area Reporter in an email.

“Every day, we gain new momentum,” he added. “This week, the first poll released since we entered the mayor’s race shows Councilmember Kaplan with a commanding 22-point lead.”

Overman added that Kaplan has also been endorsed by the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, and the national Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.

In addition to Kaplan, EQCA endorsed Sheila Kuehl for Los Angeles County supervisor, Jeffrey Prang for Los Angeles County assessor, James Williamson for Palm Springs School Board, David Robert “DR” Heywood for Anaheim City School Board, and Scott Houston for West Basin Municipal Water District.

Kuehl, who has also endorsed Kaplan, is a former state senator and made history as the first LGBT person elected to the Legislature when she served in the Assembly. Williamson is the partner of former EQCA leader Geoff Kors and is making his first bid for public office.

— Cynthia Laird, September 12, 2014 @ 7:46 pm PST
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Lesbian SF attorney, nonprofit head receives Stonewall honor

NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

The attorney who heads the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights has been named as a recipient of the American Bar Association’s third annual Stonewall Award.

Kate Kendell, an out lesbian, is one of three longtime activists who will be honored at the ABA’s meeting in Houston in February 2015. The association’s Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity selected Kendell for the award, which was announced Thursday, September 11.

“It is very humbling to receive a recognition for work that you feel so privileged to be doing and that is the case here for me,” Kendell said in an email to the Bay Area Reporter. “I am moved and honored to be a recipient of the Stonewall Award from the American Bar Association and I follow in the footsteps of many of my heroes and colleagues who have been past recipients of the award. … It is my life’s joy to do work at NCLR on behalf of the LGBT community and I feel enormously grateful every day that this is my life.”

Among other recent cases, NCLR has helped represent same-sex couples working to overturn Idaho’s same-sex marriage ban. A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel heard oral arguments in the couples’ lawsuit Monday, September 8, with judges seeming puzzled as to why the couples shouldn’t be allowed to marry.

In a news release Thursday, the ABA said, “In addition to being at the forefront of litigation moving forward marriage equality, Kendell has developed key arguments and strategies advancing LGBT family law, including securing spousal rights for a same-sex partner in a wrongful death action and adoption rights for LGBT parents in dozens of states.”

Kendell served as the first staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union in Utah before becoming NCLR’s legal director in 1994. In its announcement, the ABA said, “Through her leadership, today [NCLR] has a staff of 24 and a budget of $5 million.”

Representative Brian K. Sims, the first out LGBT member of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly, and Lise M. Iwon, the first out lesbian president of the Rhode Island Bar Association, are the other two Stonewall honorees named Thursday.

The honor “recognizes lawyers who have considerably advanced [LGBTs] in the legal profession and successfully championed LGBT legal causes,” the ABA said.

The award is named for New York City’s Stonewall Inn, the gay bar where patrons rioted against police in June 1969 and played a key role in the modern LGBT rights movement.

Kendell said she’s “honored to share” the recognition Sims and Iwon, who have “made my job easier through their work and commitment.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 11, 2014 @ 3:46 pm PST
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Bandidos owners change restaurant’s name to Hecho

Owners of Bandidos, a Mexican restaurant in the Castro, have decided to call the eatery 'Hecho!' Photo: Rick Gerharter

Owners of Bandidos, a Mexican restaurant in the Castro, have decided to call the eatery ‘Hecho!’ Photo: Rick Gerharter

The owners of Bandidos, the Mexican restaurant in San Francisco’s Castro district that has faced complaints from people who feel the name is offensive, announced Thursday, September 11 that they’re changing the name to Hecho.

“As small business owners, we have been saddened that unknowingly the name of the restaurant we recently opened has offended people,” owners of the eatery, which is at 2200 Market Street, said in a Facebook post Thursday. “This was never our intention and we feel horribly about it, so we have decided to change the name. We hope that the focus of the restaurant can be on our creative food, delicious drinks and fun atmosphere where everyone feels welcome, and not what is written above our door. We have always wanted to celebrate Mexican culture, food and drinks, and never would want anyone to feel like they were being discriminated.”

Hecho “is Spanish for ‘made,’ as in Hecho en Mexico or Hecho en SF,” the owners said. “We take this to mean different things for different people, no matter where they are from. Since our menu is inspired by Mexican cuisine but has a San Francisco twist to it, we believe that this is an appropriate name that means we are not just one specific style, we are ‘made’ everywhere.”

Local queer comedian Marga Gomez had been working with owners Jesse Woodward and Dana Gleim on a name change since around the time the restaurant opened September 2. Gomez said in an interview this week that “Bandidos” translates to ‘bandits,’” and “it has a lot to do with stereotypes of Mexican people,” such as “bushy beards, criminals,” and “untrustworthy” figures.

Woodward, who’s gay, has said, “Our inspiration was always the Mexican revolutionaries,” such as Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa. He called the men “heroes for a lot of Mexican people. They were looked up to.”

Gleim, Gomez, and Woodward didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Woodward said business has been “great,” and Thursday’s Facebook post said, “Our first week has been incredible and we want to thank everyone for their support in revitalizing this corner of Market Street. Following in the footsteps of our landlord, Leticia Luna, we’re honored to continue providing quality food and service in the Castro. We are looking forward to many nights of tacos and tequila with locals and visitors alike. Thanks to everyone for all the love, Salud!”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 2:36 pm PST
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Resolution delayed in skirt burning case

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Sasha Fleischman in an undated photo

The attorney for the boy accused of burning a gender non-conforming teen last year said Thursday, September 11 that a resolution in the case is close, but he indicated the families haven’t been able to agree on what should happen.

Richard Thomas, 17, allegedly used a lighter to set fire to the skirt worn by Sasha Fleischman, 18, skirt as they rode an AC Transit bus in Oakland November 4, 2013. Fleischman suffered severe burns and was hospitalized for several weeks.

Thomas has pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated mayhem and assault resulting in serious bodily injury. Each count carries a hate crime enhancement. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

William Du Bois, Thomas’s attorney, has said for months that he’s trying to work out a resolution with prosecutors before the case goes to trial.

At Thursday morning’s hearing in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland, Judge Paul Delucchi asked if the case would be resolved during that day’s session.

“We’re allegedly on the cusp of that,” Delucchi said.

“We still are,” Du Bois said, but a deal hasn’t been reached yet.

Outside the courtroom, Du Bois said, “We’re really close to a disposition,” but it’s been like “herding cats to get everybody” from Fleischman’s and Thomas’s families “together.” With the additional challenge of representing a juvenile, “That’s what’s causing me the blues,” he said.

Asked whether Thomas’s family wants one outcome and Fleischman’s family wants another, Du Bois said that’s “a fair inference, but I can’t say that’s the case.”

He wouldn’t share any details of what the resolution may look like, but he said it could be reached “in the next couple of weeks.”

Debra Crandall, Fleischman’s mother, has said she’s “sad” about Thomas being charged as an adult. “We’re kind of torn … to put a 16-year-old kid away for life seems really harsh.”

However, she’s said, “I feel like perhaps the DA’s office must have information they can’t give us completely.”

Du Bois has indicated Thomas has a criminal history, but details are confidential because he’s a juvenile.

The attorney hasn’t disputed that Thomas set fire to Fleischman but has said, “As far as I can tell,” the incident “was the result of a juvenile prank that went horribly wrong a juvenile prank that went horribly wrong.”

He’s also said members of Thomas’s family are gay and “he doesn’t have a homophobic bone in his body.”

Thomas, who’s been in custody since shortly after the incident, looked toward a family member who was sitting in the back of the room as he walked into court Thursday. His hands had been cuffed to a chain around his waist. Approached before the hearing, the family member declined to speak with the Bay Area Reporter.

A call to Fleischman’s home wasn’t returned Thursday.

The next court date is October 10, when a deal could still be announced. A trial date of December 8 is also set in case a resolution isn’t agreed upon before that.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:53 pm PST
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League of Women Voters of San Francisco announces fall campaign debate schedule

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 1.47.07 PMThe League of Women Voters of San Francisco has published its fall campaign debate schedule with candidates in two supervisor races, the college board contests, and a state Assembly race.

The most high profile of the four will be the one with the Assembly District 17 candidates – Supervisors David Chiu (District 3) and David Campos (District 9) – who are vying to succeed termed out gay Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco).

Their debate is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, October 2, at the UCSF Mission Bay campus’ Genentech Hall located at 600 16th Street in San Francisco. It will be co-presented by the league and the university.

As the Bay Area Reporter‘s Political Notebook pointed out last month, there has been a noticeable lack of forums or debates this year with candidates for local offices on the November ballot.

Unlike in past election cycles, the city’s two main LGBT Democratic clubs, Alice B. Toklas and Harvey Milk, are not hosting any such candidate forums this fall. (Alice did hold an Assembly candidate debate in March.) Nor have AIDS advocates announced an HIV-focused debate this year with candidates in the races for the even-numbered supervisor districts as they did 4 years ago.

Several neighborhood groups in District 6 and District 10 have held, or are planning to host, forums with their supervisor candidates in coming weeks, and last night nightlife and entertainment industry leaders hosted an Assembly race debate with Chiu and Campos.

The first of the league’s forums will be with the candidates for District 6 supervisor, where the incumbent, Jane Kim, is seeking a second 4-year term. Her opponents are three men: gay Rincon Hill resident Jamie Whitaker; neighborhood activist Michael Nulty, who told the B.A.R. he identifies as homosexual; and David Carlos Salaverry, a Republican who placed third in the June primary for the 17th Assembly District seat.

The District 6 forum is set to take place at 6 p.m. Friday, September 19, at Golden Gate University School of Law, Room 2201, at 536 Mission Street in San Francisco. The university is co-hosting the event with the league.

The forum with the District 10 supervisor candidates is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, October 6, at the Southeast Community Facility located at 1800 Oakdale Avenue in San Francisco. The Bayview Multipurpose Senior Center has partnered with the league to host the debate.

In that contest the incumbent, Supervisor Malia Cohen, is facing a rematch with several of her challengers from the 2010 race, as noted in today’s Political Notebook. Former nonprofit theater executive Tony Kelly, who placed second behind Cohen in 2010 after 20 rounds of calculations under the city’s ranked choice voting system, is considered the most formidable opponent in this year’s race.

Also running a second time this fall are Marlene Tran and Ed Donaldson, while neighborhood activist Shawn M. Richard rounds out the list of candidates.

The league’s Community College Board candidate forum is set to take place at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 23, in Room MUB 140 at the City College of San Francisco main campus located at 50 Phelan Avenue. It will be co-hosted by EATV.

In the race for three four-year seats on the Community College Board of Trustees, two incumbents, John Rizzo, the board’s president, and Anita Grier, its vice president, are seeking re-election. Their challengers are gay activist Dan Choi, Haight neighborhood leader Thea Selby, former college board member Rodrigo Santos, Brigitte Davila, and Wendy Aragon.

In the race for a two-year term on the college board, to fill a vacancy created when Chris Jackson resigned, the leading candidates are former gay student trustee William Walker and Amy Bacharach. Thomas Moyer is also seeking the seat.

For more information or to sign up to volunteer at any of the forums, email lwvsf@lwvsf.org or call (415) 989-8683. There is no RSVP necessary to attend the forums.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 12:58 pm PST
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HealthRight 360 to prep Mission Street space for health care services

1563 Mission Street (Photo: Loopnet.com)

1563 Mission Street in an undated photo. (Photo: Loopnet.com)

A San Francisco-based nonprofit that offers health care services to low-income LGBTs and others has acquired a 5-story building near the Mission district and is working to raise $12 million in order to expand its reach, the group announced this week.

HealthRight 360 plans to turn the dilapidated 1563 Mission Street space near South Van Ness Avenue into a new healthcare center providing primary medical care and dental work, along with HIV testing, mental health, substance abuse, employment, education, housing, and other services.

With the acquisition, “We’re taking the services we offer currently in a patchwork of rental locations and relocating them in one space” and growing the number of clients, Robert Joyce, a HealthRight 360 spokesman, said.

Joyce said construction would begin in the spring of 2015 when, “if all goes as planned, we plan to begin a wide-ranging rehabilitation of the building to suit our needs.”

The fundraising campaign started in September 2013. So far, more than $3.2 million has been raised through foundation grants and lead gifts. Over the next two years, the organization plans to raise about $9 million more through private individuals, corporations, and foundations. Joyce said the city wouldn’t be providing funding for the campaign.

“[D]uring the last several months, while the sale of the building was being negotiated, HealthRight 360 was contractually prohibited from discussing the location publicly,” the agency said in a news release Thursday, September 4.

In a listing that was last updated more than a year ago, Loopnet.com says the building was constructed in 1903 and includes more than 40,000 square feet of space.

“The subject property (1563-1565 Mission Street) is a rare opportunity for a developer to buy a prime building in an area that the local San Franciscan government encourages residential development,” the listing says.

The ad, which also points out the proximity to City Hall and several Muni public transit lines, continues, “The Van Ness corridor is undergoing a massive redevelopment. Many of the old industrial buildings are being converted to retail and residential which will create a thriving community.”

In recent years, the spot has housed textile industry and a Chinese restaurant.

“We’ve done extensive due diligence as far as engaging engineers” to examine “the structural integrity of the building” and what needs to be done “floor by floor” to get it into shape, Joyce said.

HealthRight 360 was formed in 2011 by the merger of Haight Ashbury Free Clinics and Walden House. Earlier this year, Lyon-Martin Health Services, which provides health care services to women and transgender people regardless of their ability to pay, also merged with the organization.

“We serve people living below the poverty line,” Joyce said. “… A large proportion of our population is homeless.”

The nonprofit will continue helping people in other neighborhoods, including the Haight and the Tenderloin.

“There’s demand in each neighborhood for high quality care,” Joyce said.

In its news release, the agency referred to the fact that Twitter and other tech companies moving to the neighborhood near its new Mission Street spot in recent years, along with high-rent condominiums, has raised concerns about “how that development impacts local nonprofits and their service to the community.”

HealthRight 360 is working with the city’s health department and others to develop an outreach plan for area residents and others “who wish to learn more about the project and to provide their recommendations,” the nonprofit said.

HealthRight 360 CEO Vitka Eisen stated, “This location is accessible to the communities we serve in the heart of San Francisco, and we look forward to creating a modern resource for the present and future needs of our clients and community.”

The Mission Street project was considered during the San Francisco Health Commission’s Tuesday, September 2 meeting. The group said commissioners voted unanimously to support a finding related to the city’s Health Care Services Master Plan, which was adopted last year. The plan identifies needs and locations of health care services and includes recommendations on accessibility and service distribution.

 

— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 5, 2014 @ 3:37 pm PST
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Philz Coffee brews up plans for larger Castro store

Courtesy Philz

Courtesy Philz

The recent caffeinization of the Castro district shows no signs of reaching the bottom of the pot, with homegrown Philz Coffee the latest to brew up plans for a new location in the city’s gayborhood.

Founded in the city’s Mission District in 2003 by Phil Jaber, the company opened its second outlet a year later in the Castro at 4023 18th Street. The 400 square foot location, however, is cramped and shares the space with a laundromat.

With its lease set to expire, Philz would like to relocate to a larger storefront at 549 Castro Street. Formerly the site of a locally-owned shoe store, the space currently houses Supervisor David Chiu’s campaign headquarters for his Assembly bid.

By doing so Philz would be able to expand the number of stations to slow drip its made-to-order coffees in the new Castro location, allowing for faster service on the weekends, when it is particularly busy. And it could liven up that block of Castro Street, which has struggled for more than a decade to draw foot traffic due to the longtime closure of the Patio restaurant and intermittent usage of the next door storefront.

“It is a slightly larger store so we could serve the community better,” Tracy Chiao, vice president of real estate for Philz, told Castro business owners Thursday morning at their monthly meeting.

The company is just beginning to meet with neighborhood groups to discuss its relocation plans as it applied for the necessary permits with the city’s planning department in August. Because Philz now has 15 stores in the Bay Area and one in Los Angeles it is considered a formula retailer and needs to win approval to open the new Castro store from the planning commission.

It has yet to be given a hearing date. Should it win the needed permits, company officials expect to have the new Castro Street location open sometime next year in the late spring or early summer.

“It is a really exciting time and a good move if it happens with the expanded sidewalks,” said David Grey, a project manager for new store development at Philz. “It is still going to be the smallest Philz but will be twice as big as the 18th Street Philz.”

It remains to be seen if the neighborhood will welcome Philz on that segment of Castro Street. Plans to open another formula retailer, Hamburger Mary’s, in the old Patio space have drawn objections. That project is waiting to be heard by the planning commission.

In addition to arguments over it being a chain store, as defined by the city, Philz could also face opposition from those who object to seeing another coffee house move into the Castro.

Over the last year the neighborhood has welcomed such entrants in the java business as Eureka! Cafe (451 Castro Street), Espressamente Illy (2349 Market Street), and Reveille Coffee Company (4076 18th Street).

They joined long established Castro coffee houses Spike’s Coffees and Teas (4117 19th Street); Peet’s (2257 Market Street); Starbucks (4094 18th Street); and the Castro Coffee Company (427 Castro Street).

Work is underway on the Weaver’s Coffee & Tea coming to a ground-floor space in same building as Fitness SF at the corner of Market, Noe and 16th Streets. And in April Hearth Coffee Roasters won approval to move into 3985 17th Street, the site of a former tanning salon.

Should Philz’s application for the Castro space be rejected, it is unclear what the company will do.

“It’s possible we would leave the Castro; that store is definitely compromised for us,” Grey said of the 18th Street space. “But we may talk to our current landlord about extending the lease.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 11:14 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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