Issue:  Vol. 46 / No. 17 / 28 April 2016

Oakland mayor on board with travel bans

Ending weeks of silence, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf on Thursday joined a newly formed Mayors Against Discrimination coalition that is barring official travel to states with anti-bias laws such as those enacted in North Carolina and Mississippi.

(Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

(Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

The coalition will also work to examine prohibitions on contracting and purchasing from companies in these states, develop model resolutions that can be adopted by city councils and other legislative bodies, and other measures that mayors and cities can take individually and collectively.

After North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory in late March signed into law a bill that overturns LGBT protections enacted by cities and other local jurisdictions in the Tar Heel State, several big city mayors quickly announced bans on city-funded travel, including San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

But Schaaf’s office did not respond to the Bay Area Reporter‘s request for comment last week on whether Oakland would do the same. Last year, Schaaf did institute a travel ban to Indiana after that state’s governor signed an anti-LGBT bill that was later amended after the backlash it received. After the changes, Schaaf ended the ban.

Thursday, Schaaf said in a statement that Oakland has a “moral and a legal obligation to root out discrimination of every kind. Bigotry and bias have no place in government or civil society.”

Schaaf added, in the statement released by Lee’s office, “We must stand up for justice and the civil rights or our fellow Americans. Allowing our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers to be treated differently under the law undermines the very essence of our democracy and harms all of us.”

As mayor of Oakland, one of the most diverse cities in the country, Schaaf said her administration has been at the forefront of “promoting equitable treatment under the law and fostering an atmosphere that promotes inclusion and the protection of our fundamental civil rights.”

“We will continue to uphold this tradition,” she added.

In addition to Lee and Schaaf, other mayors who have joined the coalition include Ed Murray, a gay man who leads Seattle; Bill de Blasio of New York City; Jim Kenney of Philadelphia; Charlie Hales of Portland; Kirk Caldwell of Honolulu; Javier Gonzales of Sante Fe, New Mexico; Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C.; and Bob Buckhorn of Tampa, Florida.

“We as mayors must stand up together and call out discrimination when we see it, and I believe working together we can create change to ensure the rights of all Americans,” Lee said.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant this week signed what advocacy groups are calling the most extreme “religious liberty” bill in the country. The law, HB 1523, allows private businesses, individuals, and medical and social service agencies to discriminate against anyone in the state based on religious beliefs about marriage, premarital sex, and conformity with gender identity stereotypes.

Lee’s office said that it expects more mayors to join the coalition. The group will also work with private sector leaders and companies, like Marc Benioff from Salesforce, Wells Fargo, Starbucks, “and hundreds of others to apply direct political and economic pressure to repeal or stop the alarming spread of discriminatory laws in the United States,” according to the statement.

— Cynthia Laird, April 7, 2016 @ 1:00 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gay SF man charged with voter fraud

Donald Dewsnup. Photo: Facebook.

Donald Dewsnup. Photo: Facebook.

A gay San Francisco man has been charged with multiple counts of voter fraud after he allegedly used a fake address to vote in a supervisorial district where he didn’t live, the district attorney’s said today (Wednesday, April 6).

Donald Dewsnup, 49, a local Realtor, was arraigned today.

In a news release, District Attorney George Gascón said, “San Francisco’s supervisorial races can be decided by a small number of voters. A healthy democracy benefits from zealous debate, but can be undermined by fraud and deceit.”

Dewsnup, who was arrested Tuesday by DA investigators, is out of custody on his own recognizance. He didn’t respond to interview requests, and information about his attorney wasn’t immediately available.

He faces three counts of filing a false document with a government agency, two counts of perjury, and two counts of false voter registration, according to prosecutors.

Citing court documents, DA spokesman Max Szabo said, “Dewsnup used these false addresses in order to infiltrate a neighborhood association on Telegraph Hill, where he did not reside, with the purpose of advancing his personal political agenda.”

According to prosecutors, Dewsnup also allegedly provided a false address to the California Bureau of Real Estate.

The San Francisco Examiner said Dewsnup belongs to the San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation and described him as a “pro-development activist who took part in a failed attempt last year to stack the local chapter of the Sierra Club with similarly minded people.”

BARF’s website says it works to “reduce displacement in the Bay Area by increasing the stock of available housing.”

The state Bureau of Real Estate says that Dewsnup works for Intero Real Estate Services.

Court records show that last year, another man tried unsuccessfully to get a restraining order against Dewsnup, saying, “He’s sent me an email threatening to come to my home. He showed up at an organization I’ve worked for last week. I am in fear of my safety!”

Dewsnup’s set to appear in court April 19 for a prehearing conference.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, April 6, 2016 @ 4:27 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gender neutral bathroom bills advance in Sacto, SF

Assemblyman Phil Ting

Assemblyman Phil Ting

A state bill that would make single-stall restrooms throughout California gender neutral advanced out of committee Tuesday morning.

The Assembly Business and Professions Committee on a bipartisan, unanimous 14-0 vote sent AB 1732, authored by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, where it must be heard by late May.

If enacted by the Legislature and signed by the governor, then all single-user toilet facilities in any business establishment, place of public accommodation, or state or local government agency would need to be identified as all-gender toilet facilities beginning March 1, 2017. Such bathrooms would be for only one occupant at a time unless used by parents or guardians with small children and people with disabilities who require assistance.

“This bill deals with a very simple but necessary issue: our ability to access bathrooms in public,” said Ting. “They should be accessed in a fair and safe way.”

A similar gender-neutral bathroom law was unanimously passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

Testifying on behalf of the state bill before the Assembly committee, transgender San Francisco resident Jordan Gwendolyn Davis said she wished it included the same provision as San Francisco’s law that calls for all new or renovated public buildings to include gender neutral bathrooms.

“As a transgender woman I often have to fear using gender-based restrooms,” she said. “It is especially true for transgender women of color. We are frequently murdered for being ourselves.”

The only person speaking in opposition to Ting’s bill was Randy Thomasson, president of the Campaign for Children and Families. The antigay activist said the bill would force women to share bathrooms with men, who have “messier habits” in the bathroom.

“This bill would cause unforeseen problems and unforeseen consequences. It is uncaring for women and it is unnecessary,” he said.

Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) countered that it is a “common sense bill” about bathroom rules “a lot of us have been questioning for years.”

“We don’t have separate bathrooms in our homes,” he noted.

There is no reason why an establishment should designate single-stall bathrooms as just for women or men, Gomez added, as it sows confusion on if a person of the opposite gender could use the bathroom if it is vacant.

“Why can’t I go in that one if no one is in there?” asked Gomez. “It is a bill that’s time has come.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, April 5, 2016 @ 3:28 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Man carjacked in Duboce Triangle

Photo: David Troup/Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association

Photo: David Troup/Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association

A man was carjacked in San Francisco’s Duboce Triangle neighborhood Thursday afternoon, according to police.

The March 31 incident in the 400 block of Duboce Street started when the victim, 58, dropped off a passenger. He left his key in the ignition, and the suspect jumped in and started the vehicle. When the victim tried to stop the suspect, the man punched him in the chest “several times,” Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman, said in a summary.

The suspect started driving as the victim held on to the driver’s side door, then “slammed on the brakes,” knocking the victim to the ground, Esparza said.

The thief fled with the car westbound on Duboce toward Market Street. He is described only as a black male between the ages of 30 to 40. The car that was stolen is white.

The victim sustained abrasions to his hands and knees and refused an ambulance. His cellphone was also taken in the incident.

Anyone with information related to the case may call the anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444, or text a tip to 847411 and type SFPD, then the message. The incident number is 160 266 350.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, April 1, 2016 @ 3:18 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

‘When We Rise’ filming coming to SF

A scene from the 1979 White Night Riots. Photo: Dan Nicoletta.

A scene from the 1979 White Night Riots. Photo: Dan Nicoletta.

Filming of the ABC TV miniseries When We Rise, based in part on the memoir of Harvey Milk confidante Cleve Jones, is set to take place in San Francisco April 28 to May 8, according to a city film commission official.

The scenes reenacted here are expected to include the 1978 Gay Freedom Day parade, as the LGBT Pride parade was then known, as well as the 1979 White Night Riots. The latter refers to the fiery battles between police and residents that erupted after a jury convicted Milk assassin Dan White only of manslaughter, rather than murder.

Jones, who lives in the Castro, went on to become a well-known AIDS and labor activist. His book is set to be released on his 62nd birthday, October 11.

He said although the film is not a documentary, “We’re going to do our best to have it be as truthful as possible. I think we all have a very keen sense of responsibility to make sure that the overarching narrative is accurate – though I’m sure many people will point out many things that aren’t quite accurate,” he quipped.

Manijeh Fata, a film coordinator with the city’s film commission, said most of the filming would take place in the Castro, although scenes would also be recreated at City Hall. Producers are expected to put out a call for volunteer extras. The film is currently being shot in Vancouver, Canada.

Milk became the first out LGBT elected official in California when he won a seat on the Board of Supervisors in 1977. White, a former supervisor, assassinated Milk and Mayor George Moscone in City Hall in November 1978.

Dustin Lance Black, who won an Academy Award for his screenplay for the 2008 Milk biopic, also wrote the screenplay for When We Rise.

The Castro has been used by several LGBT-related movie and television film crews in recent years. Whole swaths of the neighborhood were decorated to recall the early 1970s for Milk in January 2008. More recently HBO’s Looking, about the modern-day lives of three gay men living in San Francisco, filmed inside various businesses in the gayborhood and at nearby Dolores Park, as did  Netflix series Sense 8, which also utilized the 2014 Dyke March to film scenes involving the shows’ lesbian and transgender female couple.

Fata said people associated with When We Rise are scheduled to appear Thursday, April 7 at the regular meeting of the Castro Merchants business group.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on this story in the April 7 edition.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 31, 2016 @ 3:21 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF photog seeks funds to replace stolen equipment

George Lester

George Lester

San Francisco photographer George Lester has launched a Gofundme fundraising campaign so he can replace camera equipment recently stolen from his home.

Lester, who’s gay, is known for photographing LGBT events and is one of the official photographers for this year’s AIDS/LifeCycle, the annual bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles that raises money for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center. He also takes photos for the Bay Area Reporter.

“It is not easy to ask for assistance, but my passion is photography and capturing the memories of my community,” Lester says on his online crowdfunding page, which he launched March 29.

He explains, “Recently, my house was broken into and all of my camera equipment was stolen.” He’s looking to replace his camera, flash, and lenses.

As of this afternoon (Thursday, March 31), Lester had raised $5,675 of his $7,900 goal.

On his site, he tells supporters, “As a thank you for your donation, I would like to offer you a session in my portrait studio. (Once I get my new camera equipment).”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:00 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Upper Market real estate office projects in Castro head to planning

Real estate firm Drysdale Properties is aiming to open a satellite office in the storefront at 2324. Market Street.

Real estate firm Drysdale Properties is aiming to open a satellite office in the storefront at 2324 Market Street.

A pair of projects involving upper Market Street real estate offices in the Castro are headed to the city’s planning commission.

Two years after Drysdale Properties, a local affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, first announced it planned to move into the roughly 280 square foot space at 2324 Market Street, its permit request will be heard by the oversight body at its April 21 meeting.

As noted in a story last June, Drysdale’s attempt to open a satellite office in the bathroom-less storefront was blocked when a complaint was filed against it for not seeking the required permits imposed on real estate offices wanting to open in ground floor retail spaces along upper Market Street.

City leaders imposed the zoning controls in an attempt to limit the number of real estate offices, as well as financial services and other non-retail uses, that could move into ground floor storefronts on Market Street between Octavia Boulevard and Castro Street.

D&H Sustainable Jewelers, at 2323 Market Street, had been interested in leasing the space directly across the street from it to open a watch store, but its entreaties with the landlord were rebuffed. And the Castro Retail Strategy released last summer argued the space should be used for retail.

Nonetheless, last fall Drysdale won the backing of the Castro Merchants business group to take over the storefront. The company noted it is locally- and woman-owned and planned to utilize the space daily, including on weekends.

The Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District and the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association also voted to support its permit request, while the Castro/Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association voted to oppose it.

2201 Market Street housing project advances

A rendering of the proposed building at the corner of Market and Sanchez streets. Courtesy Edmonds + Lee Architects, Inc.

A rendering of the proposed building at the corner of Market and Sanchez streets. Courtesy Edmonds + Lee Architects, Inc.

Meanwhile, a planned mixed-use housing project at 2201 Market Street, which has housed the San Francisco flagship location for real estate firm Catarra, recently won several variances it had needed for the design of the building.

The triangular lot at the intersection of Market and Sanchez streets is one of the last remaining developable corner parcels in the area.

At that intersection in particular, it is the second-to-last corner property to be redeveloped.

The 22-unit Century SF condo building at 2200 Market Street opened in 2013, while Forest City’s 88-unit apartment complex at 2175 Market Street, on the corner with 15th Street, opened in the fall of 2014.

Across the street and currently under construction is Greystar’s 87-unit mixed-use development at 2198 Market Street, where Market, 15th and Sanchez all intersect. It is slated to open this summer.

The final site at that intersection houses a Chase Bank branch that includes a small parking lot for 15 vehicles. Plans to demolish the existing building and build a Trader Joe’s grocery store were abandoned in 2005. At this time there are no known plans to redevelop the property.

Two years ago Donald St. Sure, the property owner of 2201 Market Street, first announced plans to demolish the existing structure on the site, which has housed various retail shops in the past, from an audio and electronics store to a seller of home furnishings.

The current plan is to build a six-story, 65-foot tall flatiron building with 3,200 square feet of ground floor commercial retail space, fourteen dwelling units at the second through sixth floors, and a basement level garage with four stacked parking spaces accessed from Sanchez Street.

A view of the proposed building’s Sanchez Street facade. Courtesy of Edmonds + Lee Architects, Inc.

A view of the proposed building’s Sanchez Street facade. Courtesy of Edmonds + Lee Architects, Inc.

The building, designed by local firm Edmonds + Lee Architects, Inc., would extend outwards at the corner, with the retail spaces recessed inwards.

Because the proposed building covers the entire lot and is designed with bays that extend beyond the property line, it required the granting of a rear yard modification and variance from the requirements for obstructions over streets and alleys.

Zoning Administrator Scott F. Sanchez granted the zoning code exceptions for the project at his monthly Zoning Variance Hearing held Wednesday, March 23.

The design will now be reviewed by the planning commission, though a hearing before the panel has yet to be scheduled.

— Matthew S. Bajko, March 30, 2016 @ 4:58 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Breaking: Openhouse announces ED’s departure

Openhouse Executive Director Seth Kilbourn, left, joined Bob Ross Foundation President Thomas E. Horn and Openhouse program director Michelle Alcedo in front of the future site of Openhouse's offices, which will be named the Bob Ross LGBT Senior Center. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Openhouse Executive Director Seth Kilbourn, left, joined Bob Ross Foundation President Thomas E. Horn and Openhouse program director Michelle Alcedo in front of the future site of Openhouse’s offices, which will be named the Bob Ross LGBT Senior Center. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Seth Kilbourn, executive director of Openhouse, the San Francisco nonprofit dedicated to helping LGBT seniors, is leaving his post at the end of May after eight years in the post, the nonprofit announced today (Wednesday, March 30).

The news comes as the organization works to construct the much-delayed housing welcoming to LGBT seniors at 55 Laguna Street.

“Under Seth’s leadership, Openhouse has succeeded in making LGBT-welcoming senior housing a reality in San Francisco,” said Bill Scherer, president of Openhouse’s board, in a news release. “Openhouse has grown into a multi-service agency that today helps thousands of seniors every year maintain their independence and improve their health. We are thankful to Seth for his leadership and passion in driving our mission forward. The enduring foundation that we have built together means we can support the needs of our community for many years to come.”

Kilbourn stated, “I am deeply grateful to Bill and the board for their leadership, and to the extraordinary staff for their commitment and talent. Together we have built an organization that is having a measurable impact on the lives of thousands of LGBT seniors. The milestones we have achieved and the strength of the organization provide an important opportunity for me to plan my next chapter.”

The first 40 units of project and new Openhouse Service Center are set to open in August. A second phase of construction, which begins in October, includes another 79 apartments and an Openhouse Program Center.

“The opening of the city’s first LGBT-welcoming senior housing community manifests the vision that has driven this organization for many years and I am particularly proud to have helped Openhouse deliver on that promise to the community,” said Kilbourn. “I look forward to supporting Openhouse through this transition, and in the years ahead.”

During Kilbourn’s time at the agency, its budget grew from $500,000 to $1.8 million. He led the organization through a comprehensive strategic planning process in 2013 that resulted in a five-year plan that guides the agency’s growth. Openhouse served almost 2,000 LGBT older adults in 2015, the agency said, “a 300 percent increase since completing the strategic plan.”

For more on this story, see the Thursday, March 31 edition of the Bay Area Reporter

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 12:17 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF mayor bars city travel to North Carolina after state passes anti-LGBT law


Mayor Ed Lee

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee today (Friday, March 25) issued a ban on publicly funded city employee travel to North Carolina after that state’s governor, Pat McCrory, signed into law a bill that overturns protections for LGBTs.

“We are standing united as San Franciscans to condemn North Carolina’s new discriminatory law that turns back the clock on protecting the rights of all Americans including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals,” Lee said in a statement. He said he’s directing city departments to immediately implement the travel ban for trips that are “not absolutely essential to public health and safety.”

“I believe strongly that we should be adding more protections to prevent discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in the United States, not taking them away,” Lee said.

He praised Charlotte, North Carolina Mayor Jennifer Roberts and cities like hers that have worked to protect LGBTs from discrimination.

Lee also said, “I also applaud Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed who is a champion for equality for all,” but added, “With other states like Georgia on the verge of passing more discriminatory laws, let me be clear that San Francisco taxpayers will not subsidize legally sanctioned discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in any city or state.”

North Carolina’s law specifically bars transgender people from using bathrooms that do not match their birth gender.

Theresa Sparks, who’s transgender and serves as executive director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, stated her agency “is unequivocal in its condemnation of North Carolina” and McCrory “in legislating what patently amounts to bigotry, intolerance, and discrimination against the LGBT community. This is an affront to human rights not only to LGBT individuals in North Carolina but also serves as an attack on the civil and human rights of LGBT individuals across the country.”

Sparks added, “Fighting for equality and overcoming prejudice and discrimination has long been a mainstay in the history of the LGBT movement. Although the LGBT community has experienced some important milestones in recent years such as marriage equality, this progress is under attack by North Carolina’s effort to legislate hatred and should stand as an offense to all citizens of the United States.”

Lee noted that last year, after Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed into law legislation that legalized discrimination against LGBTs, Lee ordered a similar travel ban. After many others did the same, Indiana amended its law, and Lee’s ban was lifted.

Gay San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener announced Wednesday that he’s exploring legislation prohibiting city travel to North Carolina.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 25, 2016 @ 10:29 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

White House AIDS Office head steps down

President Barack Obama’s lead HIV policy adviser is stepping down, the administration announced Thursday (March 24).

(Dr. Amy Lansky)

(Dr. Amy Lansky is the new head of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy.)

Douglas M. Brooks is resigning after two years as head of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy. He’s being replaced by Dr. Amy Lansky, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official who works as a senior policy adviser for the Office of National Drug Control Policy and Office of National AIDS Policy.

Officials with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, one of the largest AIDS-based nonprofits in the country, praised Brooks and Lansky.

Tim Jones, the AIDS foundation’s interim CEO, said in a news release, “The director of ONAP shapes federal HIV/AIDS policy and funding which impacts how agencies, such as San Francisco AIDS Foundation, are able to serve clients. Our organization in particular has enjoyed a warm, productive relationship with Mr. Brooks, who has visited our organization and met with our service providers, clients and advocates to better understand the work we do.”

Highlights of Brooks’ time at ONAP include his work to reduce HIV health disparities, according to the AIDS foundation. In February, he announced “a $10 million, multi-year initiative” to offer men of color who have sex with other men HIV testing, linkage to care, housing, and other services.

(Douglas Brooks. Photo: Seth Hemmelgarn)

(Douglas Brooks. Photo: Seth Hemmelgarn)

Ernest Hopkins, the AIDS foundation’s director of legislative affairs, said, “Douglas has engaged the foundation and the city of San Francisco with curiosity, encouragement, and excitement as we have partnered on both national and regional projects.”

Hopkins pointed to the updating of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy as Brooks’ “finest achievement.”
The revised strategy “sets the bar even higher for governments and localities – to focus on the data of the epidemic today to address the health disparities that impede our success. He has led with empathy, clarity and purpose, and we will miss his spirit,” Hopkins said.

Lansky has worked at the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Programs since 1991, the AIDS foundation said.
She’s focused on “applying epidemiological research to the development of HIV prevention programming and policy,” and she’s “developed behavioral interventions with an eye on reaching and serving populations most at risk for HIV.”

James Loduca, the AIDS foundation’s senior vice president, said, “Dr. Lansky’s reputation of esteemed leadership precedes her and she’s been an invaluable adviser to Douglas during his tenure.”

– reported by Seth Hemmelgarn

— Cynthia Laird, March 24, 2016 @ 10:14 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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