Issue:  Vol. 44 / No. 51 / 18 December 2014
 

Castro area arcade games rule change approved by planning commission

Several of the vintage arcade games on offer at Brewcade, which opened last week on upper Market Street.

Several of the vintage arcade games on offer at Brewcade, which opened last week on upper Market Street.

A change in how the city regulates venues with arcade games in the Castro’s upper Market Street corridor sailed through the Planning Commission today.

The oversight body unanimously voted 5-0 to approve the updated rules, but only for what is known as the Upper Market Street Neighborhood Commercial Transit District.

The commissioners rejected a staff recommendation to have the revisions apply to all commercial districts throughout the city.

Such a change should require more noticing and communication with neighborhood groups before the commissioners felt comfortable moving forward with it.

“It is a little premature to go citywide with this but certainly upper Market makes sense,” said commissioner Dennis Richards, a gay man who lives in the Duboce Triangle neighborhood just off upper Market Street.

The revision now heads to the Board of Supervisors, which will take up the legislation in the New Year. Sponsored by gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, the rule change would allow a business on either the ground floor or second story storefront to have arcade games.

Andres Power, an aide to Wiener, told the commission that “arcades are fun, nostalgic and a great addition to our commercial corridor.”

Under the current rules, only ground floor businesses on Market Street between Noe and Church streets that fall under the classification of an “other entertainment” use can seek approval to have up to 10 “mechanical amusement game devices.”

Attention to the rule was raised when the owners of Brewcade, a new bar that opened last week in a storefront in the new building at 2200 Market Street, first proposed to theme it around offering vintage video games like Ms. Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. They were forced to limit the number of such games they could offer due to the zoning codes.

Diego R. Sánchez, the planning department’s director of legislative affairs, noted in his report to the commission that “these regulations are largely based on older notions of arcades.”

When the rules were first adopted in the 1980s, residents and city leaders were mainly concerned about increased congestion on sidewalks around arcades, wrote Sánchez, as well as “the accessibility to arcades by minors during school hours and an increase in crime and other anti-social behavior in areas near arcades.”

Those fears have since dissipated, noted Sánchez, with there now being a nostalgic affection toward classic video games.

“The current interest in arcades is in large part led by Baby Boomer and Gen-X hobbyists, collectors and nostalgists,” he wrote in his report. “These groups view arcades as venues for social interaction and for forming community around friendly competition. As a result of this attitudinal change, and in conjunction with increased regulation on smoking and gambling, popular concerns about possible nuisance have subsided.”

The city has been revising its arcade game rules throughout the city, and specifically in the Haight. Last month the new rules, pushed by District 5 Supervisor London Breed, were signed into law by Mayor Ed Lee.

Citywide, there was a relaxation in the police code’s regulations for venues with such games. The city eliminated several permits that business owners had needed to seek approval from the police in order to have arcade games.

“In the 1980s these were considered high impact uses. It is completely different now,” said the city’s planning director, John Rahaim, who is gay. “We don’t see them any different than other uses.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, December 18, 2014 @ 4:59 pm PST
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Gay SF man acquitted in arson case

A gay San Francisco man has been acquitted of arson after jurors found “his arrest was based on an unreliable identification,” the Public Defender Jeff Adachi’s office announced this week.

Anthony Bejarano, 48, had been accused of breaking into the garage of a luxury apartment building and setting fire to a Mercedes. Prosecutors charged Bejarano, a regular volunteer at the AIDS-related charity Project Open Hand, with felony counts of burglary and arson, according to the public defender’s office.

But Friday, December 12, jurors found him not guilty.

Nobody witnessed the crime, according to Adachi’s office, but a valet at One Rincon Hill apartments told the property manager he’d seen a man standing in front of the car just before the fire and then fleeing the building. The valet later identified Bejarano after the manager and police “confronted [him] with a single screenshot of Bejarano and asked him if it appeared to be the same man he saw near the car.”

Deputy Public Defender Chrisopher Hite said in a news release Monday, December 15, “The jury had strong concerns about the reliability of the identification. There was simply nothing else linking Mr. Bejarano to the crime – no motive, no DNA, no fingerprints. It didn’t make sense.”

Bejarano could have served up to 10 years in state prison if he’d been convicted in the June 19 incident.

According to the public defender’s office, Bejarano was in the apartment building that day to serve legal papers to a resident. Surveillance video showed him walking on the garage’s valet level, one floor above the Mercedes. There wasn’t any footage showing him on the same floor where the car was parked, and he wasn’t connected to the car’s owner, Adachi’s office said.

When police showed the valet the screenshot of Bejarano, he said that was the man he’d seen, and police released the image to the public. Bejarano was arrested June 25. Police searched his home and sent his clothes to a crime lab, which didn’t find any accelerant. There wasn’t any other forensic evidence linking Bejarano to the fire, either.

During the two-week trial, Dr. Mitchel Eisen, director of forensic psychology at California State University Los Angeles, testified that the valet’s identification of Bejarano “was made in a highly suggestive manner,” according to the public defender’s office, since it was “based on a single photo instead of a lineup and at the behest of the valet’s boss while he was surrounded by police officers.”

When police arrested Bejarano last year, a spokeswoman said he faced “six felony counts of arson including arson of an inhabited structure,” and he was “suspected of committing at least four arson fires in the South of Market Area.”

Tamara Aparton, Adachi’s spokeswoman, said Bejarano “was never charged with six counts,” only four, and the district attorney had only charged him in two fires. A judge dismissed the two counts from the second fire due to a lack of evidence.

Bejarano, who’s been out of custody since Friday, couldn’t be reached for comment. Officials confirmed his sexual orientation to the Bay Area Reporter. Asked about whether Bejarano had volunteered at Project Open Hand, Maria Stokes, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit, said in an email, “We do not release that information.”

Adachi said in the news release that the case highlights the trouble with eyewitness identification.

“Eyewitness misidentification is the most common element in wrongful convictions that are later overturned by DNA evidence,” he said. “Fortunately, Mr. Bejarano’s public defender was able to spotlight the many holes in the case.”

Alex Bastian, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, said in an email, “We respect the jury’s decision.”

Assistant District Attorney Andrew Clark prosecuted the case.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 3:04 pm PST
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AG Holder announces end of DOJ transgender discrimination

Attorney General Eric Holder

Attorney General Eric Holder

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced today (Thursday, December 18) that the Department of Justice will stop discriminating against transgender people.

The DOJ will no longer claim that “Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on sex does not encompass gender identity per se (including transgender discrimination),” the national Human Rights Campaign said in a news release.

“This important shift will ensure that the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are extended to those who suffer discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status,” Holder said in a statement. “This will help to foster fair and consistent treatment for all claimants. And it reaffirms the Justice Department’s commitment to protecting the civil rights of all Americans.”

Holder’s decision “to fully embrace the legal standard set forth in Macy will go a long way towards advancing equality for the transgender community,” HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow stated. “Transgender people continue to face some of the highest levels of discrimination in the workplace. We are thrilled to see the Department of Justice take this important step.”

Warbelow’s comments refer to Macy v. Holder, the 2012 case in which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined that discrimination based on someone’s gender identity is sex discrimination, which violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The employment commission filed federal complaints earlier this year in Florida and Michigan claiming that two companies had discriminated against transgender workers.

Ilona Turner, legal director for the Oakland-based Transgender Law Center, said in a statement, “We are thrilled to see this clear commitment from the Department of Justice on the issue of transgender rights. No longer will our government be arguing that transgender people are excluded from the protections of the law. This announcement will have far-reaching effects for transgender people both within the federal workforce and beyond, influencing the courts as well as other employers looking at their legal obligations under Title VII.”

She added, “Our communities remain disproportionately unemployed and living in poverty. Legal protections against discrimination can make a real difference.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 2:25 pm PST
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Gay-owned gym in SF receives permit approval

The vacant warehouse-like space at this building, located in the city's Potrero Hill area, is set to become a gay-owned gym.

The vacant warehouse-like space at this building, located in the city’s Potrero Hill area, is set to become a gay-owned gym.

The gay men behind Fitness Urbano are one step closer to opening their gym in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood.

At its meeting this afternoon (Thursday, December 18), the San Francisco Planning Commission unanimously voted 7-to-0 to approve the gym’s permits. Work can now commence to turn the 6,600 square foot warehouse space at 80 Missouri Street into a home for yoga, Zumba, and mixed martial arts conditioning classes.

“Many new residents are coming into this area. It is a great opportunity for a non-formula-retail gym,” said Larry Badiner, the city’s former zoning administer who is now a consultant and spoke on behalf of the gym owners.

The gym faced no opposition, and the commissioners quickly moved to approve the project.

“Yeah, I am in favor of it, it has all the right things,” said commissioner Michael Antonini.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted in a story published today, longtime friends Kevin McCullough and Luis Chirinos teamed up last year to launch the business.

Since 2012 Chirinos, who grew up in Venezuela and studied to be a mechanical engineer, has been looking to open his own place. He moved to California in 2000 and has been working as a personal fitness instructor and massage therapist through his business Physical Change.

McCullough, who first met Chirinos 10 years ago, is a massage therapist whose studio Body and Form is in the Castro.

The pair signed a five-year lease for the gym space and will be hiring a contractor to remodel the interior and build locker rooms and shower facilities.

They both plan to transition their current client base to the new gym once they open their doors, which they hope will be sometime between March and May of next year. They are also recruiting other personal fitness trainers and massage therapists to operate out of their gym.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 2:04 pm PST
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Two vehicles burned in Castro area arsons

San Francisco police are investigating several vehicle fires that were reported this morning (Wednesday, December 17), including two that occurred near the Castro area.

At 5:15 a.m., in the 400 block of Liberty Street, near Sanchez Street, police responded to a vehicle fire and put it out. The fire department advised police it was “a possible arson,” Sergeant Monica MacDonald, a San Francisco Police Department spokeswoman, said in a summary.

Police responded to another incident at 5:30 a.m., on Rayburn Street near Noe Street. Firefighters extinguished the fire, and the fire department’s arson unit was at the scene.

In November, three cars were burned in the Castro, also in apparent arson attacks.

No arrests have been reported. MacDonald, who said nobody was injured in the fires this morning, didn’t have any suspect descriptions.

In a Facebook post today, Supervisor Scott Wiener, whose District 8 includes the Castro, said the “disturbing acts” are “very dangerous, for obvious reasons. The police are actively investigating, and I’ve been in touch with them throughout the morning. If you have any information please let the police know.”

Anyone with information in the cases may contact police anonymously at (415) 575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411. Type SFPD in the subject line.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 17, 2014 @ 5:00 pm PST
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SF supes approve settlement in lawsuit against gay former sheriff’s lieutenant

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted this week to pay $50,000 to a man who’d accused a gay former sheriff’s lieutenant of domestic violence.

Former sheriff's lieutenant Vincent Calvarese in 2012 (Photo: San Francisco Police Department)

Former sheriff’s lieutenant Vincent Calvarese in 2012 (Photo: San Francisco Police Department)

In a plea bargain reached in May 2013, Vincent Calvarese, 50, the ex-lieutenant, entered a no contest plea to a misdemeanor false imprisonment charge. The charge stemmed from a July 2012 incident in which he allegedly attacked the victim, who was in his early 30s at the time.

Calvarese was sentenced to three years of adult probation, 150 hours of community service, 52 weeks of counseling, and ordered to stay away from the victim. He retired from the sheriff’s department this spring.

In August 2013, the victim filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California claiming his civil rights had been violated because he’d been unlawfully detained, among other complaints.

The victim had sought $75,000 through the lawsuit, in which he listed Calvarese, the sheriff’s department, and the city as defendants. (The Bay Area Reporter doesn’t publish the names of domestic violence victims without their permission.)

Tuesday, December 9, nine supervisors voted in favor of the settlement. Supervisor Eric Mar was absent. Former board President David Chiu recently took his seat in the state Assembly, and his supervisor’s seat is still vacant. The second and final vote on the settlement is set for December 16.

According to the victim’s federal complaint, the problem started when he and Calvarese saw each other at the Gold’s Gym (currently Fitness SF) at 2301 Market Street July 19, 2012.

“For unknown reasons, Calvarese approached [the victim] and got into his face in an aggressive manner,” then “made several rude and unwarranted comments. … Calvarese loudly identified himself as a San Francisco Sheriff’s Department officer and told [the victim] that he was going to see him in jail.”

Eventually, Calvarese “sucker punched” the other man “in the back of the head,” and the man fell, the court filing says. The victim “did not attempt to defend himself and curled up on the floor in fear as onlookers restrained Calvarese.”

The man claims he was “held against his will until police arrived,” and when they got there, officers also “detained” him until two witnesses told police he’d done “nothing wrong.”

The account differs from details offered in 2012 shortly after Calvarese’s arrest. At that time, Alex Bastian, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, said that the victim had “pushed and punched back.”

In the federal complaint, the victim – who was himself charged in a separate domestic violence case – said Calvarese had denied knowing him outside the gym, but he “provided evidence of his prior sexual relationship with Calvarese by showing [police] text messages and photos exchanged between the two men.”

The victim claims he “was bombarded with media attention,” and he “suffered a total loss of privacy and was forced to relocate.” He’s also “suffered extreme emotional distress due to the assault at the gym and the unwanted media attention that followed this high profile incident.”

In the court documents, the man says that sheriff’s officials “have a history of using violence, intimidation, and false imprisonment against innocent people to carry out unlawful schemes and motives.”

As evidence, he pointed to Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi’s own domestic violence case. In March 2012, Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment that stemmed from an incident in which he bruised the arm of his wife, Eliana Lopez. Lopez disputed the charges.

The county’s “failure to discipline or retrain any of the involved officers is evidence of an official policy, entrenched culture, and posture of deliberate indifference toward protecting citizens’ rights …,” Calvarese’s victim says in his federal complaint.

The victim added Mirkarimi and other officials “knew and/or reasonably should have known” about Calvarese’s “repeated acts of misconduct,” and they “sought to cover up, and/or tacitly authorized” Calvarese’s misconduct. The victim didn’t provide details of any of Calvarese’s alleged misconduct other than the incident at the gym.

During the original case, Calvarese and the victim both declined the B.A.R.’s repeated interview requests, and neither could be reached for comment for this story.

In December 2012, the victim himself was charged in San Francisco Superior Court with misdemeanor counts of domestic violence-related battery, criminal threats, and vandalism after he allegedly threw a vase at another man, threatened him, kicked him, and punched a hole in a wall.

In a plea deal reached this past June, he pleaded guilty to vandalism. His sentence included three years of probation and 50 hours of anger management.

About five months after Calvarese agreed to his plea bargain, he was sent to rehab after experiencing unspecified medical issues and skipping several of the classes he’d been ordered to attend.

Officials weren’t able to say much today (Friday, December 12) about the lawsuit settlement the supervisors voted on Tuesday.

Mark Nicco, an attorney for the sheriff’s office, said he couldn’t talk about the specifics of the case, but he said Calvarese retired in March. He couldn’t say whether he’d retired voluntarily. He also couldn’t comment on Calvarese’s pension.

In an email, Matt Dorsey, a spokesman for the city attorney’s office, said, “We recommended what we consider to be a prudent settlement from the standpoint of taxpayers’ interests. It avoids the risks of litigation, which are actually heightened in these kinds of federal civil rights cases. Unlike most civil suits, Section 1983 cases provide that the prevailing party is entitled to attorneys’ fees. So if a jury were to award even a small symbolic award to a plaintiff, the city could be on the hook for fees that could be an order of magnitude larger – possibly well into six-figures.”

John Burris, the attorney representing the victim in the federal lawsuit, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Despite the victim saying in the lawsuit being settled that the media attention had been “unwanted,” he’d given the B.A.R. his cellphone number, said on multiple occasions that he would eventually share his story, and exchanged text messages with a reporter who was seeking updates (in one of those messages, he called the reporter “Goldilocks.”) It’s also not clear whether any outlet other than the B.A.R. ever approached the victim directly. The victim’s Facebook page indicates he’s now the co-host of a TV show devoted to sex.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 12, 2014 @ 8:31 pm PST
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Storm postpones SF Pride toy, food drive

Blog_To_drive
This week’s rainstorm has postponed the planned food and toy drive that the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee was to hold at Jane Warner Plaza, 17th and Castro streets, Friday, December 12.

Instead, the second annual food and toy drive to benefit the Homeless Children’s Network will take place in the plaza Friday, December 19 from noon to 4 p.m., Pride board President Gary Virginia told the Bay Area Reporter.

New toys and canned and dried goods will be accepted. For more information, visit www.sfpride.org.

— Cynthia Laird, December 11, 2014 @ 2:54 pm PST
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Penis ‘too graphic’ for senior art exhibit in SF

A censored version of Lionel Biron's 'Sailor Boy (2006)' (Black bar inserted by Bay Area Reporter staff)

A censored version of Lionel Biron’s ‘Sailor Boy (2006)’ (Black bar inserted by Bay Area Reporter designer Max Ledger)

A gay San Francisco photographer is complaining because a photo of his that features an erect penis was viewed as “too graphic” for an exhibit at the city’s LGBT Community Center.

Lionel Biron, 73, submitted his photo – “Sailor Boy (2006)” – to Openhouse this fall. The exhibit includes work from LGBTs 60 and over and opens December 13 and goes through January 26 and benefits the LGBT center. Openhouse, which is based at the center and assists LGBT seniors with housing, is running the show.

“I’m a little disappointed that the gay community is censoring itself over sexual images when it is, essentially, though it’s been forgotten, it is a sexual movement,” Biron, who’s lived in San Francisco since 1978, said. At least, “it was when we started it back in the ’70s.”

Biron, who uses only his last name professionally, said he doesn’t use Openhouse’s services, but he submitted the photo to the nonprofit because “I am a senior, even though I don’t feel like one, so I decided to join forces with them and show my support. Little did I know.”

He’d planned to sell the photo for $800. The LGBT center would have gotten 25 percent of that.

In a November 26 email to Biron, Fairley Parson, Openhouse’s manager of community engagement, who’s overseeing the exhibit, said, “[T]here is some dissension among my curatorial team due to the graphic nature of the content of your piece – or, alternately – due to team members’ political or aesthetic sensibilities.”

She continued, “One person believes it is too graphic and would be offensive to the community,” but a “final verdict” hadn’t been reached. She invited him to submit “less explicit” pieces and said, “I hope that doesn’t offend you as an artist.”

Then, in a December 9 email, she told him the photo had been rejected but again invited him to submit more work and told him, “You are clearly quite skilled and talented.”

Biron, who didn’t send any other work, emailed Parson to ask for the specific reasons he’d been rejected.

Parson responded, “Jurors felt that the piece was too graphic for the show and didn’t fit in with the other pieces.”

In an interview, Parson was caught off guard to learn that Biron had talked to a reporter about the piece, and she struggled to explain the jurors’ decision, especially given that two other pieces that jurors accepted feature nudity.

“There are a group of volunteer jurors who all take part in the decision-making, and I have to respect where the volunteers land on things. … So this is where they landed, and after some pretty robust conversation and dialogue … It was determined it didn’t fit” in the show, she said.

“There is nudity” in the exhibit, Parson said. “It’s not the content per se, it’s not the fact that it’s a nude penis. … It’s a judgment call. It’s subjective. We do not have a hard line around nudity at all.”

Trying more to explain, she said, “It’s really more about the specific portrayal and the specific piece, because we have an abstract sculpture of a penis, and we have a nude pastel of a woman. It was really the specific, graphic nature of [Biron's] piece that people objected to.”

Asked if the problem was that the photo is meant to be sexually provocative, Parson said, “that’s a good question,” but “I can’t speak for all of the volunteers. I think what I said best sums it up.”

There were five jurors. Parson, who said they’d asked for their names not to be shared, didn’t know what the vote had been. “I think it was more of a consensus decision-making process.”

The jurors are all LGBT artists 60 and over. She wouldn’t confirm whether Openhouse selected the jurors.

As for whether she thought the photo should be included, Parson said, “I wasn’t sure where to land on it. That’s why I rely on the community feedback and the volunteer artists to help make those decisions.”

On its website, Openhouse told applicants, “Openhouse and the SF LGBT Center reserve the sole right to decline display of any artwork, to reclassify artwork and to set location of artwork. Show will be curated by Openhouse staff and Openhouse community member artists by invitation. … Openhouse is committed to showcasing diverse senior artists, but cannot guarantee your works’ acceptance into the show. Thank you for your interest and your work.”

Biron, who acknowledged, “It’s a jury show. They have a right not to accept [the photo],” said there was “nothing in particular” he was trying to express with the piece, which he said he’s shown in Los Angeles and the Kinsey Institute in Bloomington, Indiana.

Birson said he’s worked with 300 models, most not professionals, in San Francisco since 1993.

He paid “Sailor Boy,” who was from Italy, to model for the photo he submitted to Openhouse. (An uncensored version of the photo is available here.)

“I do a lot of nudes, and I do a lot of multicultural males,” Biron said. He added, “I have not exhibited in San Francisco in almost 20 years, because it’s too racist. The gay community is essentially quite racist. The Castro is a racist hotbed. Historically, I had difficulties with my mixed-race exhibitions in San Francisco, which is not an issue at all in Paris,” where he’s also exhibited work.

The Chinatown resident said he hasn’t tried showing his work in the Castro since the late 1990s.

The exhibit – “Vantage Points: A lifetime of perspective” – will be on display beginning 2 to 5 p.m., Saturday, December 13 at the LGBT Community Center, 1800 Market Street. Admission is free.

 

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:25 pm PST
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Hearing Thursday on SF plan to cut HIV reductions pushed back to 2015

A photo of San Francisco City Hall bathed in red lights for World AIDS Day. Photo courtesy of Mayor Ed Lee via Twitter.

A photo of San Francisco City Hall bathed in red lights for World AIDS Day. Photo courtesy of Mayor Ed Lee via Twitter.

A hearing that was set to take place tomorrow on a plan to cut HIV infections to zero in San Francisco has been postponed until the new year.

As the Bay Area Reporter reported last month, a consortium of local health officials and city leaders have mapped out an aggressive plan to cut new HIV infections by 90 percent come 2020.

A month ago gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, who is part of the working group developing the plan, had announced that an informational hearing before the Board of Supervisors’ Government Audit and Oversight Committee would take place this Thursday, December 11.

However, after checking to ensure the hearing was still taking place amid reports of an intense rain storm set to deluge the Bay Area tomorrow morning, the B.A.R. learned that Wiener and the HIV advocates had decided to wait until sometime in early 2015 to now hold the hearing.

The decision was unrelated to the rain, said Wiener.

The reason, he said, was “deciding with the advocates that January is a better time to hold the hearing.”

Dubbed “Getting to Zero: Zero HIV Infections, Zero AIDS Deaths, and Zero Stigma,” the city’s plan as of now has a three-pronged approach.

The key components are rapid enrollment in treatment for those who test positive for the virus; retention of people once they are in care; and ensuring those who are HIV-negative and at risk for HIV have access to pre-exposure prophylaxis.

Known as PrEP, the once-a-day pill marketed by Gilead Sciences as Truvada (tenofovir plus emtricitabine) has been shown to prevent HIV transmission when taken properly.

One issue expected to be discussed at the hearing is funding for the plan. It remains unclear how much it will cost the city to implement it. Backers had told the B.A.R. they expected the funds would come from various sources, including the city’s general fund and from private sector donors.

— Matthew S. Bajko, December 10, 2014 @ 4:09 pm PST
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[Updated] Man arrested in SOMA murder case

Murder defendant Antonio Dupree (Photo: SFPD)

Murder defendant Antonio Dupree (Photo: SFPD)

San Francisco police have arrested a man for allegedly killing one South of Market area man and trying to kill anotherAntonio Dupree, 36, of San Francisco, was arrested on murder and burglary charges in the death of Gary Mulhearn, 63, Officer Albie Esparza, a San Francisco Police Department spokesman, said today (Thursday, December 4).

Mulhearn, who lived at 25 Essex Street, was found dead Monday, November 24, police reported last week.

[Update Tuesday, December 9]: In a news release issued Tuesday, police said homicide investigators determined Mulhearn “had been murdered during the evening hours of Friday, November 21.” Dupree was arrested Friday, November 28. Esparza said he didn’t know whether Mulhearn or Dupree is gay [End update].

Prosecutors are charging Dupree with murder, attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and residential burglary. The weapon was a belt, according to court records. It will likely be several months before the medical examiner’s office releases publicly the cause of Mulhearn’s death. (A resident of Mulhearn’s building said “the scuttlebutt” among residents is that he’d been strangled. Esparza didn’t respond to a request to confirm that’s how Mulhearn died.)

Alex Bastian, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, said Dupree, who’s in custody on $10 million bail, had been set for arraignment Wednesday, but the hearing was continued to December 17.

Bastian said Mulhearn was found in his apartment. The incident involving the second victim was separate, he said. He said he couldn’t go into details on whether Dupree or the second victim were also residents of Mulhearn’s building.

It’s “still under investigation” whether Dupree took anything and whether there are other suspects, Bastian said. He noted a residential burglary charge doesn’t necessarily mean something was taken; it can be charged any time a suspect enters a residence intending to commit a felony. He didn’t know whether either of the victims or Dupree is LGBT.

Attorney Joe O’Sullivan represented Dupree in court Wednesday and said he’s likely to be retained in the case.

Dupree “is an extremely diminutive young man,” O’Sullivan said, estimating his height at 5 foot 2 or 5 foot 3.

“He looks like a little kid.”

O’Sullivan doesn’t know if Dupree or either of the victims are gay, and he said he hadn’t yet reviewed police reports in the case.

Based on information from Dupree’s family, though, O’Sullivan said Mulhearn had been “a mentor” to Dupree. He wasn’t sure if they’d lived in the same building.

He said he appeared with Dupree Wednesday after Dupree’s family approached him. O’Sullivan said he often represents people in homicide and gang-related cases and has represented members of Dupree’s extended family.

Dupree “was like a deer in the headlights [Wednesday] in court,” O’Sullivan said.

Assistant District Attorney Todd Barrett is prosecuting the case.

According to court records, Dupree was convicted of arson causing great bodily injury in San Francisco in 1998 and served time in prison. Records also indicate he’s previously been charged with several drug offenses, assault, and other crimes.

O’Sullivan said those charges sound like “standard fare for the city,” and he said he didn’t know anything about them.

“If there’s an arson, I think it was dismissed, and it was a juvenile [case],” he said.

Dupree’s family also told him that “about 10 years ago in San Mateo County, he got a five-year sentence” for robbery, O’Sullivan said.

“I wouldn’t ask for bail … so I don’t care what his criminal history is or not,” he said.

25 Essex Street (Photo: Seth Hemmelgarn)

25 Essex Street (Photo: Seth Hemmelgarn)

In recent days, other residents at the building had little information about what had happened, and said Mulhearn had mostly kept to himself.

Scott Nassans, 45, a gay resident of the building who lives across a stairway from Mulhearn’s unit, said he didn’t know him well and had “no idea” what had happened to Mulhearn, whom he’d see him “every once in a while.”

Nassans doesn’t know if Mulhearn, who lived alone, identified as gay.

“He would bring up these young guys to his apartment, but I have no idea what that was about,” Nassans said, adding that the other men appeared to be in their late teens or early 20s.

Nassans, who said he hadn’t known of an arrest being made and didn’t recognize Dupree’s name, said he didn’t know the other men and didn’t recognize them as being other residents of the building.

Some who knew Nassans said that he’d often lend money to people.

About three weeks ago, Nassans said, he’d seen Mulhearn with another man, and Mulhearn had four to five $100 bills on the seat next to him. Nassans said Mulhearn later explained the man had owed him money.

Mulhearn was “very quiet” and he never heard any noise coming from the apartment, Nassans said.

At a small memorial service this morning another resident of Mulhearn’s building said she’d once “heard screaming and yelling” coming from his apartment.

“He had a male guest he couldn’t get rid of, the woman, who didn’t give her name, said, “I had to escort the guy out.” Afterward, she said, Mulhearn told her, “I’m sorry you had to do that.”

The woman, who declined to speak with the Bay Area Reporter, said Mulhearn had “always had a smile on his face.” She said he “always gave people money” and he “wasn’t the type to confront people or ask for it back.”

Another woman at the service, a building staff member who didn’t give her name, described Mulhearn as “very quiet and respectful” and encouraged anyone who needed “support for the things that have transpired” to use the “supportive services” available at the building.

Mindy Talmadge, a San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman, said in an email that a King American ambulance, rather than a fire department vehicle, had responded to 25 Essex when Mulhearn’s body was found. King  American requested the police and the medical examiner, Talmadge said. A spokesman for King American didn’t respond to a request for comment.

She referred the B.A.R.’s questions to a supervisor, who hasn’t responded to requests for comment.

Two residents, including Nassans, said Mulhearn is the sixth resident to die since the building opened in December. It wasn’t clear what the causes were.

The building houses the Rene Cazenave Apartments, which according to the Community Housing Partnership website “were developed in cooperation between Community Housing Partnership and  BRIDGE Housing. … The project was selected by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency (SFRA), to develop affordable housing in the new Transbay Redevelopment Area. Rene Cazenave Apartments is the first of several development sites that will serve as a gateway to the SFRA’s vision of a new ‘main street’ along Folsom Street. Community Housing Partnership is the owner and property manager of the site, while Citywide provides on-site support services and counseling.”

The residence “is a mid-rise, eight-story building that includes a total of 120 apartments,” the website says.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 4, 2014 @ 6:01 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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