Issue:  Vol. 45 / No. 22 / 28 May 2015

Man robbed in latest incident near Dolores Park

Dolores Park. Photo: Pete Thoshinsky.

Dolores Park. Photo: Pete Thoshinsky.

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

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

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

Police described the suspects only as two black males.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Local NAACP backs gay police commissioner

Police Commissioner Julius Turman. Photo: Facebook

Police Commissioner Julius Turman. Photo: Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SF zoning official rejects proposed pot dispensary in Castro district

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 3:31 pm PST
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Castro Street tree well paving is permeable, says Wiener

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Obama supports LGBT foster youth in statement

President Barack Obama stops to talk with visiting school children outside the West Wing of the White House, April 29, 2015. The President was returning from a walk with Shanna Peeples, the 2015 National Teacher of the Year, when he met the children and their chaperones.  (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama stops to talk with visiting school children outside the West Wing   of the White House, April 29, 2015. The President was returning from a walk with Shanna Peeples, the 2015 National Teacher of the Year, when he met the children and their chaperones.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

As California lawmakers debate a bill aimed at providing better protections for transgender foster youth, President Barack Obama has voiced support for policies that protect all LGBT youth in foster care.

The White House issued a presidential proclamation today (Thursday, April 30) recognizing May as National Foster Care Month.

In it Obama stated that, “All young people, regardless of what they look like, which religion they follow, who they love, or the gender they identify with, deserve the chance to dream and grow in a loving, permanent home.”

According to the president’s proclamation, there are more than 400,000 boys and girls in the nation’s foster care system. A disproportionate number are African-American and Native American youth.

More than 100,000 of them are waiting to be adopted, and every year, 23,000 young people age out of the system, noted the White House, “never having found the security of a permanent home.”

The country has reduced the number of young people in foster care in recent years, noted Obama, but “has more work to do to ensure all children can thrive in a safe and nurturing environment.”

He added, “At the heart of the American story is the simple truth that all children should have a fair chance at success, no matter who they are or where they come from. Central to this promise of opportunity are the love and support of family — which all girls and boys deserve, but not enough have.”

The proclamation went on to say that no one who wants to care for a foster youth should be discriminated against due to their being a member of the LGBT community.

“With so many children waiting for loving homes, it is important to ensure all qualified caregivers have the opportunity to serve as foster or adoptive parents, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status,” stated Obama. “That is why we are working to break down the barriers that exist and investing in efforts to recruit more qualified parents for children in foster care.”

In California a state bill that would ensure transgender foster youth are placed in welcoming and affirming homes passed out of its first legislative committee in mid April, as reported in the Bay Area Reporter‘s April 23 issue.

The legislation, Senate Bill 731, is authored by gay state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by several California LGBT rights groups. A number of professional associations for foster care workers are also backing the bill.

Set to heard next by the Senate Judiciary Committee, the bill would require caregivers to take a young person’s gender identity into consideration when deciding whether to place them with a foster care family or in a group home, many of which are segregated by gender.

The state Department of Community Care Licensing would also be tasked with developing regulations to implement the bill should it become law.

While there is no statewide data on the number of LGBT foster care youth in California, a 2014 study by the Williams Institute, an LGBT think tank at UCLA, found that nearly 7,400 youth, ages 12-21 are in out-of-home care in Los Angeles County any given month, and 19 percent or 1,400 of these youths identify as LGBTQ.

The study also determined that between 1.5 to 2 times the number of LGBTQ youth are living in foster care as LGBTQ youth estimated to be living outside of foster care.

“LGBTQ youth have an estimated higher average of foster care placements, reported being treated less well by the child welfare system, have been hospitalized for emotional reasons at some point in their lifetime and were more likely to have been homeless at some point in their life,” concluded the study, a synopsis of which was included in the Fair Share for Equality report issued by the Equality California Institute, the educational arm of the statewide LGBT advocacy group.

— Matthew S. Bajko, April 30, 2015 @ 12:47 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Ex-porn actor pleads not guilty in Hi Tops arson case

Troy Collin McCormick. Photo courtesy of San Francisco Police Department.

Troy Collin McCormick in his April 2015 booking photo, courtesy of the San Francisco Police Department

A former porn actor who allegedly started a fire at the gay sports bar Hi Tops recently has pleaded not guilty to felony charges of arson and possession of an incendiary device, and a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest.

Troy Collin McCormick, 27, of San Francisco, the man accused in the incident, was booked shortly afterward and remains in custody.

Hi Tops co-owner Jesse Woodward said the incident occurred “right after we closed” early last Tuesday morning.

Woodward, who wasn’t there at the time, said McCormick brought “a shopping cart full of garbage, lit it on fire, and put it in front of our doors.” There was no damage to the bar, which is at 2247 Market Street. He said police chased McCormick, who’d made threats in the bar before, to another bar and arrested him.

Ian Armstrong, 27, who splits his time between Maui and Palm Springs said he’s McCormick’s former boyfriend, and they did “webcam modeling” together for a few months, years ago. McCormick has gone by names including Tristian Hawk, said Armstrong, who’s used the name Dmitri Navroska.

“It’s really, really surprising to me he would do something like that,” he said of the alleged April 21 incident at Hi Tops. McCormick is “more the kind of guy that would leave a bad Yelp review.”

Deputy Public Defender Eric Quandt, who noted last week that he’d just received McCormick’s case, said, “I’m concerned for how he’s doing, actually, and a little bewildered by what’s going on with him.” He indicated that McCormick’s mental health was being evaluated.

McCormick, who entered his pleas Thursday, April 23, had recently been “5150′d,” Quandt said, referring to the process where someone is held involuntarily for up to three days while they’re assessed for psychiatric disorders.

“We were the ones that called the cops on him that night,” Woodward said of that incident, which was in March.

He said the scenario was “the usual. [McCormick] came by and threatened us. We called the cops,” then followed him down to the Starbucks at 4094 18th Street. When police arrived, he said, McCormick “started freaking out.” Officers handcuffed him.

Quandt doesn’t know if McCormick has any history with drugs, and he hasn’t seen any court records showing McCormick has a history of violence. He thinks an alternative court, such as behavioral health court, may be helpful to him.

The criminal complaint against McCormick alleges that he set fire to Hi Tops itself, but as Woodward indicated, “My understanding is the building didn’t actually catch on fire,” Quandt said.

Troy Collin McCormick in an undated photo, courtesy of

Troy Collin McCormick in an undated photo, courtesy of

Armstrong said he and McCormick, who he hasn’t talked to in years, dated for a year or two.

“The thing about Troy is Troy is very calm and very collected,” Armstrong said. “He doesn’t act out. He doesn’t have anger issues.”

However, Armstrong said on “very, very rare” occasions, McCormick would become physically violent. That was “only after drinking a ton” of alcohol, though, he said.

One online reviewer of the couple’s 2011 video “Good Rough Pounding,” in which McCormick chats with viewers while preparing to have sex with Armstrong, described McCormick as an “uber-hot, sweet dom” and Armstrong as “a beautiful puppy.”

The couple are “great performers, who deserve more stars than I can give,” the reviewer – “AdmiringTheView” – said.

Assistant District Attorney Andrew Clark was the prosecutor at McCormick’s arraignment, where Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman set McCormick’s bail at $200,000 and ordered him to stay at least 150 yards away from Hi Tops and one of the bartenders there.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, April 29, 2015 @ 4:56 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Two LGBT bills from freshmen Bay Area lawmakers survive committee vote

Assemblyman David Chiu

Assemblyman David Chiu

Two LGBT bills backed by freshmen lawmakers from the Bay Area passed out of the state Assembly’s Accountability and Administrative Review Committee Wednesday.

The first bill, AB 959, is known as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Disparities Reduction Act and is authored by Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco). As previously noted by the Bay Area Reporter, it would require a number of state agencies to start collecting demographic data on gender identity and sexual orientation.

The committee voted 8-0, with Assemblywoman Beth Gaines (R-Roseville) abstaining, to send the bill to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Past efforts to pass such a bill ran into Governor Jerry Brown’s veto pen, and it remains to be seen if he has changed his mind this year. In the meantime, local jurisdictions and the state of New York have begun asking LGBT-based questions on forms and surveys.

“We all know this data collection is essential to help the government serve our diverse communities and close disparities” within the LGBT community, testified Chiu, a straight lawmaker who has made LGBT issues a top legislative priority during his first term.

LGBT groups have singled out AB 959 as their top legislative priority this year. The lack of LGBT demographic data hampers their ability to argue for state funding to address disparities in the health and wellbeing of the LGBT community. It also makes it impossible to gauge if state agencies are adequately addressing such needs.

“Our community remains in the shadows, basically invisible in the eyes of state government because our community is not included when important demographic data is collected,” Rick Zbur, executive director of the statewide LGBT advocacy group Equality California, told the committee members.

Assemblyman Evan Low

Assemblyman Evan Low

The other pro-gay bill that advanced today is AB 1050, authored by gay Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell). It would ban nonprofits that discriminate based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity from enrolling in the “Our Promise: California State Employees Giving at Work” program, where the state matches contributions state employees make to various charitable groups directly from their salaries or wages.

Under the legislation, the thousands of tax-deductible entities participating in Our Promise would have to prove to the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board that they have LGBT anti-discrimination policies in place.

“This bill ensures charities participating in the employer charitable giving program are in compliance with non-discrimination law,” testified Zbur. “Our Promise participants would have to submit statements to ensure they are in compliance.”

If adopted, the law would make it impossible for the Boy Scouts of America, for example, to be in the Our Promise program since the youth group bans openly gay people from being Scout leaders.

And anti-gay groups, such as the American Center for Law and Justice Inc. based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, which is currently listed on the Our Promise website, would not be allowed to continue in the donation match program unless they have policies in place protecting LGBT employees.

The committee passed Low’s bill 8-1, with Gaines the lone no vote, and it also now will be heard by appropriations.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 3:22 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF DA honors women who helped in sexual assault prosecution

Sabrina Espino and Grace Golding. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland

Sabrina Espino and Grace Golding. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón recently honored a woman who said she was sexually assaulted, along with the woman’s partner, for their assistance in the prosecution of the man accused of the crime.

Grace Golding, 30, and Sabrina Espino, 37, received the recognition as part of the Survivors and Champions Awards ceremony Friday, April 24 at the Hall of Justice.

Gascón called the women “a very inspirational couple” who’d helped with “a very difficult case.”

Arthur Ray Salinas was charged with two counts of sexual assault in the alleged 2013 incident. Details of what had happened weren’t offered Friday.

Jurors eventually acquitted Salinas of one of the charges and hung on the other, but he was sentenced to life in prison for failing to register as a sex offender for a previous offense, according to Deputy Public Defender Eric Quandt.

Despite the mixed results, which weren’t mentioned at the ceremony, Golding seemed pleased.

She told the DA’s staff and others gathered, “It’s incredible to be alive.”

Espino told the crowd that in her past experience, “you guys were the enemies.” But since going through the criminal justice process this time, her view has changed.

“People in the county are not the enemy,” she said.

After the event, Golding said, “I had plenty of support, and that’s really what made it easier to go through with [the trial] and stand up for myself.”

“It’s been a long journey,” she said, and there had been “lots of days when I didn’t want to wake up,” but people including Giles Feinberg, the DA’s victim/witness advocate who assisted her and Espino, Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai, who prosecuted the case, had helped comfort her.

Espino said, “It was important for Grace to know her story was believed. … As a lesbian, people don’t believe your story.”

Feinberg told those gathered Friday that the women “showed so much bravery,” and the case had been “an inspiration for me.” He said they were “becoming a voice” for other victims and survivors.

Talai said thanks to Golding and Espino, “there will never be another victim to this man,” and the women’s courage ensures Salinas “will die in prison.”

The women’s bravery “affected me both professionally and personally,” he said.

In an interview later Friday, Quandt said Salinas had failed to register as a sex offender after he moved to California to be near his family. Salinas’ options were limited because of the distance registrants have to maintain from schools and parks, Quandt said.

The failure to register had been “a throw away charge” that the DA’s office had “tacked on,” Quandt said, and “what really counted was whether he committed sexual assault,” which jurors didn’t convict him on.

Quandt expressed many problems with Golding. Among other things, he said, “We had video evidence that contradicted her testimony, and there was no DNA or scientific evidence to support her testimony.” He added, “The one independent witness was a store clerk in a corner store who also contradicted her testimony.”

Quandt said the case “will stick with me for a long time. It really bothers me.”

Salinas was 57 when he was charged in February 2013. Golding and Espino lived in San Francisco at the time but now live in San Jose.


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

SF begins plans for U.S. Supreme Court marriage announcement in June

National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. Photo: Seth Hemmelgarn

National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. Photo: Seth Hemmelgarn

San Francisco city officials and LGBT community leaders are planning a celebration at City Hall in anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that same-sex marriages should be legal in all 50 states.

Mayor Ed Lee; his chief of staff, Steve Kawa; National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell; and many others seemed optimistic marriage equality advocates will be victorious as they met in the mayor’s conference room today (Thursday, April 23).

The Supreme Court justices are set to hear oral arguments Tuesday, April 28 in the consolidated marriage case from the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Marriage is already legal in California and 36 other states, along with the District of Columbia.

The court is expected to announce its ruling in June. Those gathered at City Hall today expressed hope that the news would come before the city’s LGBT Pride parade and celebration, which is set for June 27-28.

Suggestions for the day of the court’s announcement included displaying flags from all 50 states and a light show in Civic Center Plaza that night.

Kendell, who’s organization is representing plaintiffs in the case before the Supreme Court, backed the idea of encouraging people to come to City Hall “to celebrate and to commit to finishing the job.”

She echoed comments made by Lee, who said even if the court rules in favor of marriage equality, that “doesn’t mean the end of discrimination,” and “we’ve got to move forward on society accepting this.”

“We’re going to have a backlash,” Kendell said. For many people who are poor, transgender, black, and other LGBTs, “this is not going to help you,” and it’s important to have speakers at the event to “make clear” that “we’re not leaving anyone behind.”

Kawa noted one of the main challenges planners face.

“Planning for a date that doesn’t exist yet is a difficult thing,” he said. He added that it’s important to get police involved to ensure safety at whatever event is planned.

But he also indicated he’s confident the mayor’s office will have plenty of help.

“Now you’re being volunteered to help us,” Kawa told the others present, who also included gay Supervisor David Campos, LGBT Pride Celebration Committee Executive Director George Ridgely, and Rebecca Prozan, who’s a lesbian and a former top aide to District Attorney George Gascon who now serves as Google’s public policy and government relations manager.

“We have your names, we have our emails, and we have your phone numbers,” Kawa quipped.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, April 23, 2015 @ 4:06 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Planning body supports Castro district zoning change for office-type businesses

The construction of new buildings along upper Market Street, like Linea seen here, prompted calls for the zoning change.

The construction of new buildings along upper Market Street, like Linea seen here, prompted calls for the zoning change.

Legislation meant to bring stronger public scrutiny of office-type uses taking over ground floor retail spaces in San Francisco’s gay Castro district and along Noe Valley’s commercial corridor sailed through the city’s planning commission today.

The commission voted 5-0 to recommend that the Board of Supervisors adopt the zoning change. The supervisors are expected to pass it once it is taken up at the committee level in the coming months.

Gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents both neighborhoods at City Hall, introduced the legislation in order to make permanent the interim zoning rule the city adopted along upper Market Street between Octavia Boulevard and Castro Street requiring office-type uses, such as banks and title companies, to seek conditional use permits if leasing sidewalk-fronting storefronts.

The interim rule was put in place in the summer of 2013 in response to a slew of new mixed-use buildings opening along the busy thoroughfare that combined new housing over retail spaces. Castro residents voiced concerns that banks and real estate firms would rush in and crowd out more traditional retailers, leaving dead zones at night and on weekends when they were closed.

With similar concerns raised about the 400 and 500 blocks of Castro Street, as well as 24th Street between Diamond and Chattanooga, Wiener decided to also extend the zoning rule to those commercial corridors.

At the hearing this afternoon (Thursday, April 23) Wiener aide Andres Power told the commissioners the legislation is about “ensuring our retail corridors remain active.”

Under the new rules, business or professional services wanting to open in a ground floor space on the two blocks of Castro Street, as well as several blocks on 18th Street, would need to seek a permit from the planning commission.

On upper Market Street west of Octavia, limited financial services and business or professional services would need authorization to move into a first story space.

In Noe Valley medical services, business or professional services would need planning commission approval to open in a ground floor retail space, while such uses would be principally permitted in second story spaces.

The planning commissioners recommended that the supervisors also allow them in third story spaces rather than require such businesses to seek conditional use authorization, as the legislation as written currently requires.

“This is good legislation,” said commissioner Rich Hillis, who noted such non-retail uses “tend to be large and dead on the street.”

Hillis suggested that the rule “should be expanded elsewhere” in the city to other commercial corridors.

Commissioner Michael Antonini agreed that the legislation will help “enliven the street rather than having business professionals close at 5 p.m. and have a bunch of dead storefronts here.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 3:32 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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