Issue:  Vol. 45 / No. 27 / 2 July 2015
 

Obama issues annual Pride proclamation

President Barack Obama Friday (May 29) issued his annual LGBT Pride Proclamation declaring June as LGBT Pride Month in advance of the numerous celebrations that will mark the occasion in cities across the country.

The president has issued the proclamation annually since taking office in 2009.

This year, Obama noted that the United States has always “expanded civil rights and enshrined equal protections into our Constitution.”

(President Barack Obama)

(President Barack Obama)

That may prove to be the case in June when the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision in a consolidated same-sex marriage case that could see such couples be allowed to wed in all 50 states. Currently, 37 states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage.

“Through struggle and setback, we see a common trajectory toward a more free and just society,” the proclamation states. “But we are also reminded that we are not truly equal until every person is afforded the same rights and opportunities – that when one of us experiences discrimination, it affects all of us – and that our journey is not complete until our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.”

Obama also mentioned his executive order earlier this year on workplace protections for LGBT federal employees went into effect.

“The federal government is now leading by example, ensuring that our employees and contractors are judged by the quality of their work, not by who they love,” the president stated. “And I will keep calling on the Congress to pass legislation so that all Americans are covered by these protections, no matter where they work.”

“In communities throughout the country, barriers that limit the potential of LGBT Americans have been torn down, but too many individuals continue to encounter discrimination and unfair treatment,” the proclamation states. “My administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors because the overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that it can cause substantial harm. We understand the unique challenges faced by sexual and gender minorities – especially transgender and gender non-conforming individuals – and are taking steps to address them. And we recognize that families come in many shapes and sizes. Whether biological, foster, or adoptive, family acceptance is an important protective factor against suicide and harm for LGBTQ youth, and mental health experts have created resources to support family communication and involvement.”

The president also said in the document that, “All people deserve to live with dignity and respect, free from fear and violence, and protected against discrimination, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.”

“During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, we celebrate the proud legacy LGBT individuals have woven into the fabric of our nation, we honor those who have fought to perfect our Union, and we continue our work to build a society where every child grows up knowing that their country supports them, is proud of them, and has a place for them exactly as they are,” the president stated.

The president concluded by calling upon citizens “to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.”

— Cynthia Laird, May 29, 2015 @ 4:31 pm PST
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SF panel grants permits to Pink Party and Trans, Dyke marches

Castro Street is jam-packed during Pink Saturday 2012. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Castro Street is jam-packed during Pink Saturday 2012. Photo: Rick Gerharter

A city panel that oversees street closures has granted permits to the organizers of this year’s Pink Party in the Castro the Saturday of Pride weekend as well as to the Trans and Dyke marches.

At its meeting this morning (Thursday, May 28), the Interdepartmental Staff Committee on Traffic and Transportation, known as ISCOTT, unanimously approved the applications for the trio of events, which have all made changes this year.

The Trans March will be closing down Dolores Street between 18th and 20th Streets between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. Friday, June 26. Due to the ongoing renovation of Dolores Park, the event has been moved into the street this year.

“In order to keep the park’s new grass nice and clear we decided to have a street event,” Trans March organizer Dylan Martin told the committee, composed of representatives from the city’s police, fire, health, and traffic departments.

The event will kick off with a youth-elder brunch at 11 a.m provided by Openhouse, the LGBT senior services agency, and youth agency LYRIC, which stands for the Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center. Main stage events will begin at 3 p.m. and the march itself will start at 6 p.m.

Organizers expect up to 7,000 people to attend throughout the day, with roughly 2,500 people to take part in the march. It will end this year at United Nations Plaza.

Dyke March sets new time, route

As previously reported by the Bay Area Reporter, this year’s Dyke March has been moved to an earlier start time to coincide with the new hours for this year’s Pink Party celebration in the Castro Saturday, June 27.

The female-centric event will kick off that day with a noon rally at 18th and Dolores streets near Dolores Park. Organizers plan to close off Dolores Street between 17th and 20th Street between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to accommodate the event and march lineup.

Marchers will leave 18th and Dolores at 3:30, head north on Dolores, then east on 17th Street and north on Valencia Street before finally going west on 16th Street into the Castro. Attendees will arrive in the Castro by 5 to join the Pink Party.

The larger event is under the auspices of the LGBT Community Center this year, which is working with event producer Eliote Durham and her company on the logistics and planning for it. In February the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence decided to end their oversight of the party, which has been marred by increasing violence in recent years, and later voted not to allow the center use of the Pink Saturday moniker for this year’s party.

City officials, responding to community input, pushed for the earlier start and end times for the event. It will run from 3 to 8 p.m. this year, with street closures in the city’s gay neighborhood beginning at noon.

Organizers are hopeful they can have Market Street between Eureka and Noe streets open to traffic again between 8:30 and 9 p.m. Castro Street and the surrounding side streets should reopen shortly thereafter.

“Our permit goes to an 11 p.m. end time to allow for a safety buffer so the load out can happen,” Durham told the ISCOTT members.

Food service at trucks and tents along Market Street will end at 7 p.m., and the main stage at the intersection of Market and Castro streets will shut down at 7:30 p.m.

“This is better. This will help,” said Sergeant Bernie Corry, who represents the San Francisco Police Department on ISCOTT.

The number of entrance gates has been decreased to three this year, with everyone going to Pink Party given a wristband. It is another new element being added this year to foster a safer experience for attendees.

“It is so people don’t think they can come in and make problems,” said Durham. “This will make it feel more of a celebration, so it is not just a party that doesn’t celebrate the community.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, May 28, 2015 @ 2:24 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


SF Pride declines to ban Facebook in parade

A June 1 protest at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters will be moving forward after the San Francisco Pride board decided Tuesday that the social media giant would not be banned from participating in next month’s Pride parade.

In a joint statement from the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee and Facebook, the social media company said it will participate in the June 28 parade.

At issue is the company’s policy of using legal names instead of stage names or other names on Facebook pages. Last fall, a group of drag and trans community members, along with gay San Francisco Supervisor David Campos, met with Facebook officials but a formal agreement was not reached. The social media company did restore some drag queens’ pages that it had removed.

But SF Pride and Facebook’s statement also said that the company has committed to meeting with activists and others to discuss ongoing issues with its name policy.

Facebook “has agreed to participate in a community forum on this issue and to be represented by leaders within their organization who are empowered to authorize and facilitate further changes to the enforcement and reporting options associated with the policy,” the May 21 statement read.

No meeting date was announced.

(Sister Roma. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

(Sister Roma. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

“It looks like the SF Pride board was split down the middle but the final vote result is Facebook not being banned from Pride,” wrote Sister Roma of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence on her Facebook page Tuesday, May 19. “Good luck to the members who falsely believe they can negotiate around the fake name reporting issue when Facebook has clearly stated to you directly that they will not budge on this issue.”

SF Pride’s action is similar to one taken by Heritage of Pride, which oversees New York City’s Pride March. Organizers of Heritage of Pride told the Bay Area Reporter last week that Facebook would be allowed to participate in its event.

SF Pride and Facebook’s statement said that they take concerns raised by the drag and transgender communities “seriously.”

“We acted immediately to meet with both the community members and Facebook to understand the issues at stake,” the statement said.

But SF Pride’s overarching mission is “education and liberation,” the statement said, “which means helping to push the LGBTQI rights movement forward where we can.”

“Facebook access is now a critical lifeline for so many people, and we are particularly concerned about the situation facing transgender youth who still may not have adequate documentation of their authentic names. SF Pride believes more must be done to address the negative effects of the authentic names reporting policy in order to ensure that the most vulnerable among us are not targeted,” the statement said.

In the statement, Facebook said that it has been a “strong supporter” of the Pride parade for many years. It also said that changes have been made to its authentic name policy.

“We’ve made significant improvements over the last nine months in the way the policy is enforced,” it said in the statement. “We look forward to ongoing discussions to make the experience even better for people who use Facebook. Specifically, we welcome recommendations from many community organizations on how to work more closely with the local and national transgender community and its leadership to improve their experience with Facebook.”

Facebook spokesman Andrew Souvall last week outlined some of the changes in an email to the B.A.R.

“Over the last several months, we’ve made some significant improvements in the implementation of this standard, including enhancing the overall experience, expanding the options available for verifying an authentic name, and allowing people continued access to their profiles while they work to verify their name,” Souvall said. “We have more work to do, and our teams will continue to prioritize these improvements.”

He said that Facebook has added what it calls Option 3, which allows people to provide the company with a legal document that does not need to include their authentic name on it, as long as they can provide Facebook with verification like mail, a magazine subscription, or other documentation that includes their authentic name.

Drag community members remain upset with SF Pride’s decision.

“We’re incredibly disappointed by SF Pride’s decision to allow Facebook to be part of this year’s Pride parade and festivities,” drag artist Lil Miss Hot Mess, who created a Change.org petition on the issue, told the B.A.R. Lil Miss said that the policy was “dangerous and discriminatory,” and also noted that the Pride board vote was an even split.

“It’s especially disheartening that after the Chelsea Manning controversy, the organization’s leadership still seems intent on putting corporate interests above the needs of the community,” Lil Miss Hot Mess said, referring to a previous Pride board’s handling of the Manning controversy ahead of the 2013 parade.

Manning, who was convicted of leaking classified documents via WikiLeaks, was named a community grand marshal two years ago but had that honor rescinded by the SF Pride board. She was named an honorary grand marshal for the 2014 parade.

For information on the Facebook protest, visit http://www.mynameiscampaign.org

– reported by David-Elijah Nahmod

— Cynthia Laird, May 21, 2015 @ 1:10 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Leather-themed public plaza in SF competes for grant funding

A rendering of what the Eagle Plaza could look like if installed. Courtesy Friends of Eagle Plaza.

A rendering of what the Eagle Plaza could look like if installed. Courtesy Friends of Eagle Plaza.

Boosters of a plan to construct a leather-themed public plaza in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood are competing for grant funding from the San Francisco Parks Alliance.

Dubbed Eagle Plaza, the parklet would be built on the block of 12th Street between Harrison and Bernice, which fronts the gay-owned Eagle bar.

The Bay Area Reporter in February broke the news that the plaza design would include elements celebrating SOMA’s ties to both the LGBT and leather communities.

Since the 1950s the neighborhood has been home to a number of gay bars and nightclubs, many catering to the leather scene.

Today, most of the remaining LGBT nightlife establishments are centered on or near 11th Street between Folsom and Harrison streets, with the Eagle a block away. The city has designated that section of western SOMA as part of an LGBTQ cultural heritage district.

Backers of Eagle Plaza contend it could serve as a focal point and main gathering spot for the LGBTQ district. The Friends of Eagle Plaza group is one of 18 finalists  competing for an action grant of up to $5,000 from the SF parks alliance, a nonprofit group that raises money for greening projects around the city.

According to the Friends of Eagle Plaza’s (FoEP) funding request, the money would be used to host a free public street closure event on a Saturday in July or August this summer to raise awareness of and build support for the project.

“The goal of Eagle Plaza Day is to engage residents, nearby business and property owners, interested stakeholders and the general public to learn more about and provide feedback on the proposed Eagle Plaza,” according to the project’s funding proposal posted online here.

The plaza boosters add that the friends group “would secure the necessary permits to temporarily close 12th Street between Harrison and Bernice Streets to cars for that one day, to simulate what Eagle Plaza might look and feel like. The event would feature a range of family-friendly activities over the course of the day, intended to attract a mix of ages, demographics, and cultures so that FoEP may receive the broadest range of feedback and engagement possible about Eagle Plaza.”

The public’s feedback at the event would then be incorporated into subsequent Eagle Plaza design and management planning, added the friends group, “so that the resulting design is as robust, community-driven, and successful as possible.”

For a complete list of the 18 projects seeking the funding, and to vote for the one that merits being funded, visit the park alliance’s grant proposal page here.

— Matthew S. Bajko, May 20, 2015 @ 3:15 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Schaaf, Parker offer friendly wager on NBA playoffs

With less than three hours until tip off at Oracle Arena in Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets, the mayors of Oakland and Houston have placed a friendly wager on the series.

(Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

(Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

According to a news release from Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s office, she and her Houston counterpart, out Mayor Annise Parker, spoke by phone Tuesday afternoon to outline the terms of the bet.

“All of DubNation is ready for this exciting series to kick off tonight in Oakland,” said Schaaf. “Between our amazing fans and our diverse local businesses, these games offer a great opportunity to showcase the best of what Oakland has to offer. We know this Warriors team has what it takes to bring an NBA championship home to Oakland. I expect to have a selfie from Mayor Parker in my inbox soon.”

(Houston Mayor Annise Parker. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

(Houston Mayor Annise Parker. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

If the Warriors win: Parker has pledged to take a selfie at an upcoming Houston City Council meeting in Warriors gear and a mouthguard à la Warriors guard Steph Curry. Parker will also send Schaaf Rocket Fuel craft beer from Houston’s 8th Wonder Brewery and ribs from Ray’s Real Pit BBQ.

If the Rockets win: Schaaf has pledged to take a selfie in Rockets gear at her office in Oakland City Hall. Schaaf will also send Parker a batch of local Oakland products such as Red Bay and Peerless Coffee, a water garden from Back to the Roots, a chocolate banana cream pie from PieTisserie, and a sample pack of BBQ sauces from Oakland’s own Everett and Jones.

Adding excitement to the best-of-seven series is the fact that Curry edged out the Rockets’ James Harden in the 2015 MVP voting.

— Cynthia Laird, May 19, 2015 @ 3:11 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Achtenberg delivers commencement speech at University of Utah

Former San Francisco supervisor and current U.S. Commissioner on Civil Rights Roberta Achtenberg wished “hearty congratulations” to the more than 100 graduates of the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law as she delivered the commencement speech Friday (May 15).

Achtenberg, a lesbian and longtime educator, is an alumna of the law school and “walked across this very stage” 40 years ago.

(U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Roberta Achtenberg)

(U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Roberta Achtenberg)

Currently, Achtenberg, 64, is a member of the California State University Board of Trustees, the nation’s largest four-year university system. She is director of the privately held software company, Andrew J. Wong Inc., and of the Bank of San Francisco, where she serves as vice chair.

Law school Dean Robert Adler told the audience that Achtenberg is a role model and has had an “incredibly diverse” career. She was a staff attorney of the Lesbian Rights Project of Equal Rights Advocates Inc. and a founder of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Achtenberg received her undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley in 1972 and graduated from the University of Utah law school in 1975.

Achtenberg told the graduates, faculty, friends, and family members that the law school was “open enough, progressive enough,” and even somewhat radical when she was a student there in the early 1970s.

“I was given so many opportunities,” she said.

Those included being allowed to co-teach a women and the law course in her final year.

“In 1974 this law school hosted a regional conference on women and the law,” she said. “What came out of our conference was a burning desire to have a women and the law course at the University of Utah.”

The first text on the subject had just been written by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, now a U.S. Supreme Court justice, but Achtenberg said that at the time, the law school had only one woman on its faculty. Achtenberg said she teamed up with a visiting professor and the faculty agreed to let them co-teach the course.

Achtenberg talked about her work on the Commission on Civil Rights, which, she said, has been advising President Barack Obama and members of Congress on issues such as peer-to-peer violence and bullying in schools, military sexual assault, and the school to prison pipeline that adversely affects minority youth. She also said the commission has worked on policing practices in minority communities, and referenced the national issue of police brutality that has arisen in the wake of white officers killing unarmed black men and boys in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, “to name just two” cities where such incidents have occurred.

“The precepts that I have brought to that task I learned here,” Achtenberg said.

She also discussed her controversial confirmation hearing back in 1993 when then-President Bill Clinton nominated her to be an assistant secretary in the Housing and Urban Development Department. She was the first openly lesbian nominee to be named for a position that required Senate confirmation, and, she told the audience, she needed every vote she could muster.

The late North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms had waged a vicious campaign against her confirmation, vowing not to vote for “that damned lesbian.”

That was when Achtenberg turned to her connections at the university.

“I had a secret weapon,” she said, “Dean Sam Thurman.”

Thurman, who was the law school dean when Achtenberg attended the university, wrote a letter “praising me and my accomplishments,” she said. “That letter was read on the floor of the Senate perhaps a dozen times.”

But more importantly, Achtenberg said, was that Thurman interceded on her behalf with Republican Utah Senator Bob Bennett.

“When the final vote came in, I got 54 votes and I was confirmed,” Achtenberg said, adding that many had a look of surprise on their faces because they never expected an “aye” vote for her from the conservative Utah senator.

“Part of the reason was that I am an alumna of the U and so is he,” she said, using the school’s nickname.

In closing, Achtenberg told the graduating students that they have been prepared well.

“Your heart, as well as your mind, has been changed irreparably and for the better,” she said.

— Cynthia Laird, May 15, 2015 @ 11:19 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Gay SF police commissioner reappointed

Police Commissioner Julius Turman. Photo: Facebook

Police Commissioner Julius Turman. Photo: Facebook

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors has voted unanimously to reappoint gay police commissioner Julius Turman to his seat.

Turman, who’s an attorney and has served as the panel’s vice president for two years, said he’s “thrilled” about the 11 supervisors’ Tuesday, May 12 vote.

“There’s a lot of work ahead of us,” he said. “I’m ready to dig in and get started.”

Turman, who’s declined to share his age, was first appointed to the panel in 2011. His current term runs through April 2019.

He said his first priority in his new stint is “improving the community and police relations and certainly restoring certain levels of trust, and getting more of a community voice involved” in the police department.

He didn’t share specific plans, but said, “There are going to be several initiatives announced. Let’s take them one by one.”

Turman invited people to share their ideas either at the commission’s Wednesday meetings or through the panel’s website.

He thanked groups including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for the “tremendous amount of support” they provided to his bid for reappointment.

In a recent letter to the supervisors, Reverend Amos Brown, president of the local NAACP chapter, wrote that Turman, who’s black “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.

Jonathan Frank, 68, a retired fire department paramedic, had applied to take Turman’s seat, but he said in an interview that he “temporarily” withdrew his application Tuesday “because it all happened really quickly. I didn’t have any time to get letters of support.” The supervisors “didn’t know me from Adam,” Frank, who’s straight, said.

He said he plans to apply for a seat on the panel again.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 13, 2015 @ 11:42 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Man arrested in Castro stabbing

Sean Christopher Troche. Photo: San Francisco Police Department.

Sean Christopher Troche. Photo: San Francisco Police Department.

A 28-year-old man is in custody for allegedly stabbing another man in San Francisco’s Castro district this past weekend.

According to police, Sean Christopher Troche was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the incident, which occurred at 3 a.m. Saturday, May 9 at 18th and Castro streets.

Police “observed a fight and detained” Troche and the victim, 38, Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman, said in a summary. The victim told police that Troche had “tried stabbing him,” Esparza said.

The man suffered non-life threatening lacerations to his thigh and hands and was taken to San Francisco General Hospital.

People who know Troche but didn’t want their names published expressed surprise that he would be involved in such an incident.

An operator at the public defender’s office said today (Tuesday, May 12) that Troche’s case is still being reviewed and an arraignment date has not been set.

[Update Thursday, May 14:] According to the public defender’s office, the charge against Troche has been dismissed, but the incident is “still under investigation,” and Troche remains in custody [End update].

Esparza said that Troche is a South Lake Tahoe resident but his Facebook page says that he lives in San Leandro.

 

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 12, 2015 @ 3:00 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Homeless trans woman in SF died from heart condition, report says

Anastasia in an undated photo by Asher Berry.

Anastasia in March 2014. Photo: Asher Berry.

The homeless transgender woman found New Year’s Eve outside the Peet’s Coffee in the Castro district died of a heart condition, the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office has determined.

Many who knew the woman best known as Anastasia, 50, said she’d appeared ill in the weeks leading up to her December 31 death. Those who knew her also said that she’d repeatedly refused offers of assistance, which is reflected in the medical examiner’s report.

The document was made publicly available Thursday, May 7. It lists the cause of death as “cardiomyopathy, not otherwise specified.” The manner was “Natural death.”

The findings come as the city prepares to implement a homeless death review committee, which is expected to be in place later this month. One of the aims of the panel would be to examine the deaths of homeless people to see what contacts they’d had with service providers, and what may have been done to prevent the loss.

Bevan Dufty, who serves as director of Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement for Mayor Ed Lee and who’s been involved in establishing the panel, said in January that Anastasia’s “tragic death can be a rallying point to make sure we don’t leave people behind.”

People have told the Bay Area Reporter that they’d spoken with Anastasia in the hours leading up to her death, and that she’d been on the bench in front of Peet’s, at 2257 Market Street, since the previous night. Her passing came during a particularly harsh cold spell.

A police officer told the medical examiner’s office that when he responded to the site at 6:30 a.m. December 31, Anastasia “told him that her leg hurt.”

However, the report says, “she refused medical treatment at the scene.” A rescue captain who was “familiar” with Anastasia reported that she’d “been taken to San Francisco General Hospital” because of lice and “alcohol issues.”

Citing information from police, the document says a neighboring business owner noticed Anastasia lying on the bench at about 9:35 a.m., “apparently unresponsive.” Officials have indicated she was pronounced dead at about 10 a.m.

San Francisco General provided Anastasia’s medical history to the medical examiner’s office. Those records reflected that she was transgender and said she’d exhibited “symptoms of grandiosity, delusions, and paranoia.”

Shortly after her death, Greg Carey, chair of the Castro Community on Patrol volunteer group, told the B.A.R. that in his group’s encounters with Anastasia, “she insisted you call her, ‘Your Majesty.'”

Medical records also said that in June, Anastasia had been treated for the mental health-related symptoms “and possible self-neglect, and then released,” the medical examiner’s report says.

The document indicates that for about three weeks after her death, officials weren’t able to find Anastasia’s family, but her property was eventually released to her sister.

People who knew Anastasia, who wore a scarf around her head, high heels, and had been known to wear a fur coat, said she was often outside Peet’s. She’d also regularly been seen outside the nearby Cafe Flore and the Harvest grocery store, or walking around the neighborhood. She was usually talking to herself.

The medical examiner’s report says a “pink shawl with yellow metal threads” was with her body, along with a pea coat and a camel hair coat, blankets, a Mickey Mouse watch, three Peet’s gift cards, cash, several packs of cigarettes, keys, and other items.

No drugs of any kind were found in Anastasia’s system, according to the toxicology report.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:22 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


SF supervisors set to adopt new zoning controls for Castro, Noe Valley retail spaces

The city is set to adopt new zoning rules for retail spaces along Castro Street. Photo courtesy of the Castro CBD.

The city is set to adopt new zoning rules for retail spaces along Castro Street. Photo courtesy of the Castro CBD.

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors is set to adopt new zoning controls for the city’s Castro and Noe Valley shopping districts that will make it harder for non-retail businesses to open in ground floor storefronts.

At its meeting this afternoon (Monday, May 11) the board’s land use committee voted without objections to recommend that the full board adopt the proposal, which will require non-retail businesses to seek a conditional use permit in order to open in ground floor retail spaces. Doing so will allow for the public to weigh in and voice opposition to those businesses deemed not suitable.

The measure will be heard at the board’s Tuesday, May 19 meeting.

“The intent of these controls is to incentivize active ground floor uses along our neighborhood commercial corridors. It doesn’t ban anything,” said gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, who sponsored the zoning change and is vice chair of the land use committee. “In crafting these controls, we worked closely with our neighborhood associations and merchant groups.”

The city’s small business commission also endorsed the zoning change, and at its April 23 meeting, the city’s planning commission voted to unanimously endorse the proposal. No one spoke in opposition of the changes during today’s board committee hearing.

As the Bay Area Reporter has noted in previous coverage, the legislation makes permanent an 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 the office-type uses were closed.

“With a lot of new ground floor retail space coming online, the last thing we need as a neighborhood is for that retail space to be overwhelmed by office uses,” said Wiener. “We don’t want it to be a dominant part of this new retail space. Otherwise it hits a tipping point and makes it less attractive for people to shop, eat, and drink.”

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

— Matthew S. Bajko, May 11, 2015 @ 2:24 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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