Issue:  Vol. 44 / No. 30 / 24 July 2014
 

Prozan leaving SF DA’s office

(Rebecca Prozan. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

(Rebecca Prozan. Photo: Rick Gerharter)


San Francisco Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Prozan told the Bay Area Reporter Friday that she is leaving the DA’s office and going to Google.

At the tech giant, Prozan will be doing public policy and government relations work, she said.

Prozan, who is a lesbian, has been with the DA’s office for several years; she was brought on board by former DA Kamala Harris and remained in the office with current DA George Gascon took over in January 2011.

Prior to that, Prozan worked in City Hall, serving as a top aide to former Mayor Willie Brown. She also served for a short time as a legislative aide to former Supervisor Bevan Dufty.

At the DA’s office, Prozan had been working with the neighborhood court program and on other matters.

She and her wife, attorney Julia Adams, live in the Castro.

— Cynthia Laird, July 25, 2014 @ 2:38 pm PST
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Out SF oversight panel appointees win recommendation from supervisors committee

Dennis Richards (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Dennis Richards (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

An African American lesbian and a gay man up for seats on two powerful oversight bodies won recommendations from a San Francisco supervisors committee this afternoon. They will now be up for confirmation to their seats at next week’s board hearing on Tuesday, July 29.

If approved, Bobbie J. Wilson will join the board of appeals as its second LGBT member, while Dennis Richards will join the planning commission as its sole LGBT member.

The rules committee, comprised of Supervisors Norman Yee, its chair, Katy Tang, and David Campos, unanimously voted to “positively recommend” both Wilson and Richards. The trio also unanimously voted to recommend that planning commissioner Kathrin Moore be re-appointed to a four-year term.

“I am very excited today not only about the reappointment of Kathrin Moore, but the two other appointments that have been made by President Chiu,” said Campos, one of two gay men on the board.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted on its blog last week, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu nominated both Wilson and Richards for the board appointed seats on their respective bodies. Because both are direct nominations made by the board president, others cannot apply for the seats.

The planning commission has not had an out LGBT member on it since Christina Olague, a bisexual woman, served several years ago. Olague stepped down from the commission after Mayor Ed Lee appointed her to the District 5 supervisor seat in 2012. She served for the rest of that year, but stepped down after losing her race for a full term.

If confirmed, Richards’ term would expire in July 2018. He will replace planning commissioner Hisashi “Bill” Sugaya, whom Chiu opted not to re-appoint.

“This is the second most important day of my life. The first being my marriage to my husband,” said Richards during his testimony. He pledged to be the board’s “rational, independent, thoughtful voice on the planning commission and am asking for your support today.”

Wilson would be the second lesbian board member on the board of appeals, as Arcelia Hurtado serves as its current vice president. If confirmed, Wilson’s term would expire in July 2018.

“I can guarantee not everybody will like my decisions,” said Wilson. “But I will always be prepared. I will be knowledgeable about the law. I will be compassionate. I will be impartial. I will be intellectually curious so that if someone is having a difficult time telling their story, I can help them bring out that story.”

Of his nominees, Chiu told the rules committee that Richards has “impeccable neighborhood credentials” and that Wilson is “a professional who has had many firsts in her life.” Of Moore, Chiu said she is someone with “tremendous experience in planning and urban design.”

(Bobbie Wilson. Photo: courtesy Perkins Coie LLP)

(Bobbie Wilson. Photo: courtesy Perkins Coie LLP)

Wilson, who lives in Bernal Heights, previously lived in the Castro and Mission neighborhoods. She moved to the city in 1990 after growing up in the Queensbridge Housing Projects in Queens, New York.

She is a litigation partner at Perkins Coie LLP, where she has worked since 2010, according to her resume, which was provided by Chiu’s office. Previously, she was litigation director at Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk and Rabkin and was the first African American lesbian partner at the firm.

It was while she was at Howard Rice that she was selected as lead pro bono counsel by the city attorney’s office to represent the city, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom, and other officials in the marriage equality litigation.

“I can’t say enough in terms of how impressed I am with her and what an honor it is for us to have someone like her representing us and working with us in partnership,” said Paul Henderson, a gay aide to Mayor Ed Lee who first met Wilson when he worked at the city’s district attorney office.

Gay Perkins Coie attorney and city resident David Tsai, who worked with Wilson, added, “Her type of acumen you need on the board of appeals to understand complex issues in the city and county of San Francisco.”

Richards, the longtime former president of the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association, has long been active in land use issues. He is currently a board member of DTNA, and a member of the Market Octavia Community Advisory Committee.

Richards currently works at Salesforce. He has been a resident of San Francisco for the past 19 years. During his time as president of the Friends of 1800 Market Street, the group led the fight to save the historic Fallon Building, now part of the LGBT Community Center at 1800 Market Street, and secured city landmark status for Harvey Milk’s former camera shop on Castro Street.

District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, a gay man who lives in Duboce Triangle, spoke highly of Richards, whom he has worked closely with while in office and when Wiener headed the Castro’s residential association.

“He brings not just values but the knowledge base and skill sets I think to be a fantastic planning commissioner,” said Wiener.

— Matthew S. Bajko, July 24, 2014 @ 4:03 pm PST
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Gay rapper Cazwell, dance divas Kristine W and Deepa Soul to headline San Jose Pride

Gay rapper Cazwell

Gay rapper Cazwell

Gay rapper Cazwell, whose 2010 “Ice Cream Truck” music video went viral, will headline the South Bay’s 2014 Pride festival along with dance divas Kristine W and Deepa Soul.

Born Luke Caswell, the performer has made a name for himself with his sexy videos sporting scantily clad men cavorting around him.

Kristine W, born Kristine Weitz, has long been a top talent on the gay party circuit. She broke onto the dance charts in 1997 with “Land of the Living” and recently released a greatest hits album featuring remixes of her top songs.

Deepa Soul’s career was sparked when she met mega DJ and producer Junior Vasquez at the NYC record store where she worked. Born Diedra Meredith, the artist rose to fame with her “Nowhere Love” debut track mixed by Vazquez. Her latest single is “Feva.”

As the Bay Area Reporter noted in a May article, San Jose Pride changed its name to Silicon Valley Pride this year and has taken on a more South Bay-wide focus to attract a larger crowd and increased LGBT community interest. Over the last five years attendance at the event has waned as oversight issues have hampered the local Pride committee’s ability to raise sponsorships.

In 2009 organizers scrapped having a parade as part of the Pride festivities. They later cut the number of days for the festival down to one from two.

This year marks the 39th anniversary of the celebration. It’s theme is “Honoring Our Past + Securing Our Future.”

Silicon Valley Pride takes place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, August 17 at Discovery Meadows, 180 Woz Way in downtown San Jose.

Tickets cost $10 in advance  and can be purchased online, otherwise the cost is $15 at the gate.

— Matthew S. Bajko, July 23, 2014 @ 1:32 pm PST
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Bayview residents, including LGBTs, to meet with police, other officials over violence

Residents of San Francisco’s Bayview and nearby areas are meeting with police and other city officials Saturday, July 19, to call for a “Zero Shootings goal” after a rash of recent shootings in the Bayview and Visitacion Valley neighborhoods that have included homicides.

The scene near a 2011 stabbing (Photo: Earl Thomas/BRITE)

The scene near a 2011 stabbing (Photo: Earl Thomas/BRITE)

The Bayview, which has a reputation for high levels of criminal activity, has also been drawing more LGBT residents who come for the relatively affordable housing prices.

The meeting is set for 10 a.m. Saturday at the Bayview branch of the San Francisco Public Library, 5075 Third Street.

Several incidents have shaken the neighborhood, including the July 8 shooting death of a 30-year-old man at La Salle Avenue and Las Villas Court.

In a letter to Bayview station police Captain Robert O’Sullivan, District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen, District Attorney George Gascón, and others, members of the residents group said they’re “extremely concerned,” that the San Francisco Police Department “uses the homicide rate as an unofficial barometer of success in eradicating violence. We propose that the actual number of shootings – whether the target is a person, a building or a vehicle – be used to judge the level of success and that the city adopt a goal of zero tolerance towards shootings citywide.”

The organization proposes an inter-departmental program that would treat “every gunshot and every incident involving an illegal firearm with the highest level of seriousness.”

Components could include putting cameras on city-controlled property, more Shot Spotter gunfire locator units, and a “Commitment to investigate every report of gunfire and Shot Spotter activation as an emergency (even if it’s a gunfight over water balloons),” the letter said.

Tanja Beck, 44, lives in the neighborhood with her partner, Karoline Hochstrat, 50,  and two daughters. Beck owns three homes in the district – she rents out two – and is one of the people who wants to see more enforcement against shooters regardless of whether their victims died.

“I would rather have the police count all incidents in terms of where people were put in danger or hurt, instead of just saying the number of homicides went down,” Beck said in an interview. “That is just a lucky number, I think, because probably some of the shooters didn’t find their targets.”

Acting Bayview Captain Valerie Matthews, agreed with the meeting organizers’ primary goal of having zero shootings.

“Every district in this city should have that same goal,” said Matthews. “You don’t want anyone getting shot.”

She added, “We have redeployed a lot of resources from other districts into the Bayview. We’ve increased our staffing by 25 percent, and they’re here specifically to address all the locations where these shootings and/or homicides have been occurring.”

Matthews said the fact that there hasn’t been a shooting in the neighborhood since July 8 shows that her station’s efforts are working.

However, she said, “Overall, our numbers are lower than they’ve been in many, many years,” but “there’s still work to do.”

So far this year, said Matthews, plainclothes officers in the district “have confiscated over 135 guns.” But she said, “there are probably another 300 in my district that need to be taken off the streets.”

Matthews said police need more anti-violence programs and community participation.

“It’s not all about just putting people in jail. You can’t incarcerate the whole district.”

Barbara Gratta, 53, who has a small winery – Gratta Wines – in her garage, moved to the Bayview from the Castro in 1999 with her partner, Cathy Hansen, 55.

Gratta said violence in the district “goes in waves,” and it’s not as if there’s “a constant warzone out here.”

While the Bayview is home to more African Americans than most other neighborhoods in the city, Gratta, who’s of Italian descent, said it’s always been “mixed,” and when she first moved to the area 15 years ago, “it reminded me very much of the neighborhood where I grew up,” which was a mix of black and Italian.

Beck called the Bayview “one of the last affordable neighborhoods in San Francisco” and also said it has “the best weather in the city,” and when she moved in two and a half years ago from the Bernal Heights district, “all the neighbors came and said hello.”

Some have complained over the years that African Americans are being forced out of the neighborhood.

But Beck, who’s white, said, “I’m in the business of selling homes. Whenever I list a property here, it has nothing to do with pushing out a person. It has something to do with the older generation needing to move on to their next or last destination, and it’s a wonderful time for them to do so and profit from their sale.” She added, “We also have a decent amount of properties” that become available because “the occupant died and the children want to take advantage of their inheritance … The majority of the transactions happening in this neighborhood are people want to leave the neighborhood for their own reasons, and young families want to come in because they can actually afford it here and make this a home.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, July 18, 2014 @ 3:12 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Obama to sign orders banning federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers

President Barack Obama (Photo: Courtesy the White House)

President Barack Obama
(Photo: Courtesy the White House)

In a call with reporters Friday, July 18, White House officials announced that President Barack Obama will sign executive orders Monday, July 21 making it illegal for federal contractors to discriminate against LGBT workers, the Washington Blade has reported.

In a statement, national Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said, “With the strokes of a pen, the President will have a very real and immediate impact on the lives of millions of LGBT people across the country. Each and every American worker should be judged based on the work they do, and never because of a fundamental aspect of who they are – like their sexual orientation or gender identity.” The action helps “send a powerful message to future administrations and to Congress that anti-LGBT discrimination must not be tolerated.”

Griffin also called on Congress “to immediately pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act,” which would ban employers across the country from discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Many states still allow companies to fire people based on those factors. LGBT organizations that once supported the non-discrimination legislation have turned against it since an exemption was added that would allow employers to use their religious beliefs to discriminate against LGBT employees.

The Blade reported Obama’s action Monday “won’t repeal President George W. Bush’s amendment” to Executive Order 11246, “which allows religious-affiliated federal contractors to discriminate on the basis of religion. … Still, no further exemption for religious entities will be included in the executive order.”

In a news release from the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights, Kate Kendell, the group’s executive director, said, “We are elated at the announcement by the White House that on Monday the President will sign an Executive Order barring discrimination in employment by federal contractors. For far too long, LGBT employees have been subject to open bigotry and negative job actions based on factors that have nothing to do with our ability to do the job. We are confident the President’s leadership on this issue will soon lead us to a day where all LGBT employees are protected from rank discrimination on the job.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 2:27 pm PST
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Chiu nominates two gays for SF oversight posts

[This post has been updated.]

San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu on Friday nominated an African American lesbian and a gay man for seats on two powerful oversight bodies.

(Bobbie J. Wilson. Photo: courtesy Perkins Coie LLP)

(Bobbie J. Wilson. Photo: courtesy Perkins Coie LLP)

Bobbie J. Wilson was nominated for a seat on the board of appeals, while Dennis Richards was nominated for a seat on the planning commission.

The nominations are expected to be heard by the supervisors’ rules committee July 24 and go to the full board for approval July 29. They are both direct nominations by the board president, meaning that others cannot apply.

Chiu praised both nominees, noting that Richards would be the only out person on the planning commission and that Wilson became the first African American and first lesbian partner at law firms where she has worked.

Wilson is a litigation partner at Perkins Coie LLP, where she has worked since 2010, according to her resume, which was provided by Chiu’s office. Previously, she was litigation director at Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk and Rabkin. It was while she was at Howard Rice that she was selected as lead pro bono counsel by the city attorney’s office to represent the city, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom, and other officials in the marriage equality litigation.

Wilson, who lives in Bernal Heights, previously lived in the Castro and Mission neighborhoods. She moved to the city in 1990 after growing up in the Queensbridge Housing Projects in Queens, New York.

In a phone call Monday, Wilson said that her background would be a good fit for the appeals board.

“The panel deals with all sorts of complex issues,” Wilson said, adding that her legal background is in complex civil litigation.

She also said that she works well with others and has a high work ethic.

“I have, among others, represented the indigent, workers, people of color, LGBT people, and some of the most vulnerable amongst us,” she wrote in her commission application, which was provided by Chiu’s office.

She has been recognized as a “Top 100 Leading Women Lawyer” in California, a “Super Lawyer,” and “IP Star” by various publications.

The Board of Appeals is a quasi-judicial body that provides the public with a final administrative review process for appeals relating to a wide range of city determinations. Wilson will join lesbian board member Arcelia Hurtado, who serves as vice president.

If confirmed, Wilson’s term would expire in July 2018.

Wilson said that after being involved with the marriage cases, she found that she wanted to give back to the community in a different way.

“You should always give back if you can,” she added. “I spent four years on the marriage cases and I wanted to do something different.”

Richards, the longtime former president of the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association, has long been active in land use issues. He is currently a board member of DTNA, and a member of the Market Octavia Community Advisory Committee.

His past community involvement also includes a stint as president of the Friends of 1800 Market Street (1996-2002). The group formed for the historic preservation, landmarking, and rehabilitation of the historic Fallon Building at 1800 Market Street as a part of the LGBT Community Center. According to Richards’s resume, also provided by Chiu’s office, the Friends of 1800 during this time also secured city landmark status for Harvey Milk’s former camera shop on Castro Street.

Richards currently works at Salesforce. He has been a resident of San Francisco for the past 19 years.

In a brief phone call Monday, Richards said he looked forward to serving, should his nomination be approved.

“I’m humbled and incredibly excited and honored,” he said.

Chiu noted that the planning commission has not had an out LGBT member on it since Christina Olague, a bisexual woman, served several years ago. Olague stepped down from the commission after Mayor Ed Lee appointed her to the District 5 supervisor seat in 2012. She served for the rest of that year, but stepped down after losing her race for a full term.

If confirmed, Richards’s term would expire in July 2018.

— Cynthia Laird, @ 1:22 pm PST
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Gay UC Berkeley graduate named superintendent of Joshua Tree National Park

National Park Service official Dave Smith

National Park Service official Dave Smith

A gay UC Berkeley graduate and former Bay Area National Park Service official has been selected as the new superintendent for Joshua Tree National Park east of Palm Springs in southern California.

David Smith, currently the superintendent of Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas, will begin his new position in mid-September, replacing former superintendent Mark Butler, who retired earlier this year.

“David’s experience and proven leadership will be a great asset for the park,” stated Pacific West Regional Director Chris Lehnertz in a news release. “His background working in diverse parks with many different types of resources and his proven success in building collaborative relationships both inside and outside government makes him a great fit.”

According to the statement, Smith considers Joshua Tree to be “his dream park,” as it was where he signed on as a park volunteer, and in 1998, got his first permanent position with the National Park Service as a Joshua Tree park ranger.

“I grew up climbing and camping in what is one of America’s hidden jewels: Joshua Tree National Park,” stated Smith. “Helping to lead Joshua Tree in the coming years is an honor. The staff at Joshua Tree are committed to caring for the park and its visitors. They are leaders in environmental education, scientific research, as well as search and rescue, resource protection, and facilities management. I am looking forward to the privilege of working with such an amazing cadre of individuals.”

Smith, who grew up in northern San Diego County, earned a BS in Forestry/Developmental Studies from UC Berkeley.

During 22 years with the National Park Service, Smith has served as a law enforcement ranger, a park interpreter, and a biological technician in a host of western parks. Before being sent to Kansas, he served in Washington, D.C. as legislative staffer on the House Natural Resources Committee as part of the NPS Bevinetto Fellowship program.

Smith arrived in Washington having worked as district naturalist at Grand Canyon National Park, interpretive specialist at the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, and as a law enforcement ranger at Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego and Utah’s Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

He married his husband, John Evans, in a ceremony in California in 1996. They lived in the Bay Area when Smith worked for the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail and Golden Gate National Recreation Area. While in Oakland the couple adopted their son, Dante, and daughter, Jakiah.

Smith will be joined by his spouse and their two children when he begins his tour of duty at Joshua Tree this fall.

— Matthew S. Bajko, July 17, 2014 @ 4:18 pm PST
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Out CA appeals court justice nominees sail through confirmation hearings

CA appeal court presiding Justice Jim Humes. (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

CA appeal court presiding Justice Jim Humes. (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

Two out California appeals court justice nominees sailed through their confirmation hearings this morning, marking two historic LGBT milestones for the state’s appellate courts.

San Francisco resident James M. Humes, 54, took his oath of office to become the presiding justice of the First District Court of Appeal’s Division One immediately after being unanimously confirmed by the state’s Commission on Judicial Appointments. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice James J. Marchiano.

His swearing-in marks the first time an out justice has presided over an appellate court division in the Golden State. The gay longtime aide to Governor Jerry Brown was first named to the appellate court in 2012 by his former boss.

“I know I am new to the bench and I know I have a lot more to learn,” said Humes. “I will work hard to make sure Division One continues on its current course to provide justice fairly and in a timely manner.”

Therese Stewart is the first out lesbian appointed to a CA appellate court. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Therese Stewart is the first out lesbian appointed to a CA appellate court. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Two hours later the judicial appointments commission confirmed Therese M. Stewart to a seat on Division Two of the First District Court of Appeal. It marks the first time an out lesbian has been named to the appellate bench.

Over Pride weekend in late June Brown nominated Stewart to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice James R. Lambden. Stewart, 57, of San Francisco, will take her oath of office in mid August.

She has served as chief deputy city attorney at the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office since 2002 and is best known for litigating the state’s marriage equality lawsuits that secured marriage rights for same-sex couples, first at the state level in 2008 and then in 2013 as part of the federal litigation.

“I am grateful, honored, excited,” Stewart said. “I am also daunted by the governor’s decision to appoint me to the Court of Appeals.”

Her stepmother Hope Stewart, who lives in Petaluma, attended the July 17 hearing and told the Bay Area Reporter it was a “proud” day for her.

“Such a well deserved appointment,” she said. “I am delighted the world recognizes Terry’s talents.”

Stewart’s wife, Carole Scagnetti, told the B.A.R. she was also “very proud of Terry.” Her becoming a judge, she added, “I think it is the logical next step. She is a brilliant constitutional attorney, a good listener, and has good judgment.”

The State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation rated Humes and Stewart as both “exceptionally well qualified,” its highest rating, when they reviewed their nominations. The outstanding recommendations were echoed by the members of the appointments commission.

Noting Humes had spent time in Colorado prior to moving to California, State Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye said the state “is a much better place having you come here.”

J. Anthony Kline, who has long been friends with Stewart, is the acting presiding justice for Division Two. He admitted in court that he had questioned Stewart if she was prepared to go from being an advocate before the court to having to decide cases as a judge.

“When you told me you were interested in an appointment, I tried to talk you out of it,” he said.

He also divulged that he had a chance to speak with her opponent in the federal marriage lawsuit, Charles Cooper, a month ago and mentioned Stewart’s being up for a judgeship.

“You were a fierce advocate he told me,” recounted Kline. “I almost suggested you call him to serve as a witness today on your behalf.”

Acknowledging that she lacks criminal experience in her legal career, Stewart nonetheless said she was up for the challenge and ready to learn from judges on the trial courts or with criminal expertise.

“I am eager to do it. I know it will be a challenge but something I will eagerly embrace,” she said. “At the city attorney’s office there was no dearth of breadth of the many things that came before us.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 1:14 pm PST
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Folsom Street Fair director fails to gain support for entertainment seat

Folsom Street Events Executive Director Demetri Moshoyannis. (Photo: Rich Stadtmiller)

Folsom Street Events Executive Director Demetri Moshoyannis. (Photo: Rich Stadtmiller)

The executive director of the Folsom Street Fair, San Francisco’s yearly fetish event, failed to gain support for an entertainment commission seat at a City Hall hearing today.

Demetri Moshoyannis had sought appointment to the industry seat on the oversight panel for the city’s nightlife and entertainment sector. Yet the Board of Supervisors’ rules committee gave its support to reappointing nightclub owner Steven Lee to the seat.

It was the second time Lee had prevailed against an out gay applicant for the seat, as two years ago he faced competition for the appointment from Castro bar owner Tim Eicher. In that instance, Eicher had won backing from the rules committee but saw the full board vote 6-5 to instead appoint Lee.

At the hearing this afternoon (Thursday, July 10) rules committee members Norman Yee, Jane Kim, and David Campos all spoke highly of Moshoyannis’s credentials but saw no reason not to reappoint Lee to the entertainment commission.

“It is hard to think of a more impressive candidate than we have seen for this seat and this role in a while,” said Campos of Moshoyannis, adding that as a gay man he wants to see LGBT representation on city panels.

Nonetheless, Campos said that “when it comes to re-appointments, the question is always, Has the incumbent done what you expect him to do?” Seeing that the answer is “yes” in terms of Lee, Campos said, “I am happy to support him today.”

Yee also praised Moshoyannis’ credentials but said he saw no reason not to vote for Lee.

“Demetri, I found him to be a very qualified person and has very passion for wanting to be on the commission and a clear vision for what he wanted to do,” said Yee. “If it weren’t for the fact that this position is already filled by Steven, and he is coming to us to be reappointed, I would seriously consider Demetri.”

Moshoyannis was traveling in London to promote Folsom Street Events and could not attend the hearing. In a statement read on his behalf, he argued that his working to produce not only street fairs but dance club events affiliated with the outdoor festivals qualified him to serve on the commission.

“Given the importance of outdoor events to the city,” he argued that his being nominated was “important” to ensure street fair organizers have a voice at the table.

In his remarks to the supervisors, Lee argued he had served nightlife interests well in addition to working with neighborhood groups and police officials.

“Two and a half years wasn’t enough for me,” said Lee, noting he has only missed one meeting during that time due to it falling on his birthday.

To which Yee asked if he had instead gone clubbing. “Yes,” replied a smiling Lee.

It is likely that Lee’s reappointment will be upheld by the full board, though Supervisor Scott Wiener attended today’s hearing to speak in favor of seeing Moshoyannis be appointed to the seat.

Saying he has “a lot of respect” for Lee, Wiener went on to say that he attended the hearing in order “to express my long and very positive experience with Demetri. I think he would be a superb member of the entertainment commission.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, July 10, 2014 @ 3:34 pm PST
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SF planning commission backs LGBT housing rule

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 1.43.40 PMSan Francisco’s planning commission is backing a proposed rule that would require national developers wishing to build residential projects with 10 or more units in the city to disclose if they prohibit LGBT discrimination.

The commission voted 5-0 at its meeting this afternoon (Thursday, July 10) to support the proposal, known as the LGBTQ Equal Housing Ordinance. It was introduced earlier this year by gay District 9 Supervisor David Campos at the suggestion of LGBT housing rights activists.

“It is a no brainer,” said commissioner Gwyneth Borden. “As a former board member of Equality California I can’t more enthusiastically support this measure.”

As the Bay Area Reporter first reported in March, the new rule was crafted with an eye toward providing nationwide protections for LGBT tenants. Currently 21 states in the U.S. prohibit housing discrimination based on sexual orientation, and 16 states also ban gender identity based housing discrimination.

“This gives us an opportunity again to share San Francisco’s commitment to end LGBT discrimination across the nation,” testified Tom Temprano, co-president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, at today’s hearing. “I encourage you all to take this opportunity to let San Francisco continue to take its national stand on LGBT issues.”

AIDS Housing Alliance founder Brian Basinger, who worked with Campos’ office in writing the ordinance, implied its passage would help LGBT advocates push for anti-discrimination measures at the federal level.

“We will get all these companies, from places in the country like my home state of Texas, out in front saying protecting LGBT people from discrimination is the right thing to do. Then we can go to Congress and say to all these congressmen look, these companies in your jurisdictions are already with us.”

Thus, suggested Basinger, “it will give them cover to get behind” national laws banning discrimination in housing based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Yet commissioner Hisashi Sugaya pointed out that if a developer says it does not ban LGBT-based discrimination they would still be allowed to seek permits for their proposed projects in San Francisco.

“Just so people don’t get the wrong idea” about the proposal’s impact, said Sugaya, who voted to support the ordinance.

If adopted by the city as expected, the policy would only require the planning department to inquire, as part of its routine application process, whether developers of larger projects have a national policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the sale, lease or financing of any dwelling unit.

The planning department would be prohibited from using that information as part of its evaluation of a project. Although it would be able to tell developers their application is not complete until the LGBT housing protection questions are answered.

Advocates, on the other hand, could use an applicant’s answer to the question to rally opposition to a project if the company doesn’t protect LGBT tenants. They could also use the information as leverage in extracting concessions from developers, such as seeking more affordable units be set aside than required by the city’s rules.

As the B.A.R.‘s Political Notebook noted in a story in today’s issue, the planning department had urged the commission to approve the proposal. The city’s Human Rights Commission also is backing it and could use the information from developers to compile yearly reports for the Board of Supervisors to review.

The supervisors will now take up the proposal and are expected to approve it at their July 15 meeting. The legislation is co-sponsored by Supervisors Scott Wiener, Jane Kim, Mark Farrell, John Avalos, and Eric Mar.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 2:11 pm PST
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