Issue:  Vol. 46 / No. 18 / 5 May 2016

Venn on Market, the building next to the SF LGBT center, signs first retail tenant

A personal gym is slated to move into on of the storefronts at Venn on Market. Image courtesy of Christiani Johnson Architects

A personal gym is slated to move into one of the storefronts at Venn on Market. Image courtesy of Christiani Johnson Architects

Two years after it opened, the building next to the San Francisco LGBT Community Center has signed its first retail tenant.

According to leasing agent Kevin Velotta, with Blatteis Realty, a personal fitness gym is set to move into the 2,034 square foot ground floor storefront at 1844 Market Street.

The building, known as Venn on Market, opened in early 2014 after years of delays in its construction. Yet both of its two retail spaces have remained vacant.

The identity of the owners of the personal fitness gym that leased the building’s larger storefront remains unknown. Velotta told the Bay Area Reporter the business moving in “would like to keep it discreet for now.”

The building’s other storefront, which measures 1,826 square feet, “has some activity as well,” said Velotta, though he did not specify what kind of business was interested in the space or how soon the lease would be signed.

The 113-unit Venn apartment complex, designed by Christiani Johnson Architects, had been approved back in 2007. Work on the site then started but soon stopped, leaving a pit in the ground that lay fallow for years.

As the B.A.R. noted in a 2012 article, the initial developer was forced to sell the project, then that buyer offloaded the $55 million project to MacFarlane Partners, which saw it to fruition. At the time, Susan Smartt, who was the managing director for West Coast development at MacFarlane Partners, had told the B.A.R. that the company was conferring with the LGBT Community Center about potential retailers.

Their goal was to find retail uses that contribute “to the vibe of the neighborhood,” said Smartt, now executive vice president for Related California.

Having Venn’s retail spaces activated could boost the LGBT center’s efforts to find a cafe operator willing to lease a portion of the ground floor in its building that is closest to its next door neighbor. Bringing in a new cafe is part of its planned interior remodel for the building, which is expected to begin in the coming weeks.

The LGBT center had previously leased the space to a gay owned coffeehouse, but it closed in 2008 amid a rent dispute. Since then the center has mostly used the area for extra seating or meeting space.

— Matthew S. Bajko, March 23, 2016 @ 3:51 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Boy, 15, arrested in Castro robbery


Photo: Rick Gerharter

A 15-year-old boy was arrested after he allegedly stole a woman’s cellphone and headphones as he attacked her in San Francisco’s Castro district late Monday night.

According to police, the woman was texting on her phone at 10 p.m. March 21 in the 400 block of Castro Street when the boy grabbed the phone.

“A struggle for the phone occurred,” and the boy “overpowered” the 34-year-old victim, Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman, said in a summary.

The boy fled but “was detained by people in the area and subsequently arrested by police,” Esparza said. Police don’t release names of juvenile suspects.

The woman wasn’t injured.

A different incident this week involved a man who’d been masturbating at a bus stop getting hit with a crow bar.

Esparza said the Sunday, March 20 assault started at 11:55 a.m. as the victim was at a bus stop at Market and Church streets “masturbating in public.”

Another man, who “became angry watching” the masturbator approached him, and “a verbal altercation ensued leading to a physical altercation.”

The suspect struck the victim “over the head with a metal crow bar,” causing the victim to lose consciousness, Esparza said.

The victim was taken to a hospital with a non-life threatening head injury.

The suspect was described only as a white 35-year-old man.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 3:19 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Hearing to be held on upper Market Street housing project in SF Castro district

A rendering of the proposed building at the corner of Market and Sanchez streets.

A rendering of the proposed building at the corner of Market and Sanchez streets.

A planned mixed-use housing project on upper Market Street in San Francisco’s gay Castro district will be the subject of a zoning hearing next week.

The site in question, at 2201 Market Street, is a triangular lot at the intersection of Market and Sanchez streets and is one of the last remaining developable corner parcels in the area. It has also been hotly contested, with a plan for Starbucks to take over the existing building rejected by city planning officials in 2013.

At one point home furnishings store Industrialists was housed at the site. More recently real estate firm Catarra has used the space for its flagship location in the city.

Two years ago property owner Donald St. Sure announced plans to demolish the existing structure and replace it with a new 6-story building with nine condos over ground-floor commercial space over a basement parking garage.

At the time, a preliminary assessment of the project by planning staff found that it was “generally consistent” with the neighborhood design guidelines for the upper Market Street corridor, particularly for “including the active ground floor use and urban form that is generally appropriate for Market Street, as the city’s cultural, ceremonial and commercial spine.”

As currently proposed, the new construction would result in a six-story, 65-foot tall mixed-use 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.

The building extends outwards at the corner, with the retail spaces recessed inwards. The design is by local firm Edmonds + Lee Architects, Inc.

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

A view of the proposed building's Market Street facade.

A view of the proposed building’s Market Street facade.

Under the zoning code, the building is supposed to maintain a rear yard equal to 25 percent of the lot depth, but in no case less than 15 feet at grade level and each succeeding level or story of the building, according to planning department staff.

The bays planned for the building exceed the zoning guidelines that say they should not extend more than three feet beyond the street and that the maximum length of each bay window or balcony should be 15 feet at the line establishing the required open area.

Zoning Administrator Scott F. Sanchez will take up whether to grant the zoning code exceptions for the project at his monthly Zoning Variance Hearing set to take place at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 23.

The meeting is held in Room 408 at City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place.

— Matthew S. Bajko, March 18, 2016 @ 3:36 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

No Pink Party in the Castro this year

San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener confirmed Thursday that there will be no Pink Party in the city’s gay Castro district the Saturday before the annual LGBT Pride parade.

(A person dressed in pink celebrated at last year's Pink Party. Photo: Pete Thoshinsky)

(A person dressed in pink celebrated at last year’s Pink Party. Photo: Pete Thoshinsky)

Following a March 17 meeting with key stakeholders, Wiener told the Bay Area Reporter that there will be no street closures this year. In previous years, the streets were closed for the unofficial party.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence had produced what was known as Pink Saturday for nearly two decades. Last year, however, the Sisters decided to end their oversight of the street party due to escalating violence. A sister and his husband were attacked in 2014, while Stephen Powell, 19, died after being shot toward the end of the party in 2010.

Last year, at the request of Wiener, the San Francisco LGBT Community Center stepped in to oversee the event, which was renamed the Pink Party and held earlier in the day. Wiener said Thursday that the center, which is planning for a major interior remodel of its upper Market Street building this spring, doesn’t have the capacity to continue producing the street party.

“They don’t have the staff and it’s not a core part of what they do,” he said.

Wiener said that the pre-Pride street party was never an official city event and that other groups had not offered to put it on.

“There’s no other community group that’s stepped up to do the Pink Party,” he said.

Wiener said that the city will be prepared for “lots of people” who are used to coming to the gayborhood and that his office will work with the San Francisco Police Department, Castro Merchants, and other city agencies to plan for the increased crowds.

The Dyke March, which also takes place the Saturday before Pride, is expected to take place and Wiener said that “temporary street closures” would be created for the end of the march.

The B.A.R. will have more about the Pink Party cancellation in next week’s paper.

— Cynthia Laird, March 17, 2016 @ 4:17 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Santa Clara officials to raise transgender flag to mark day of visibility

Last July the city of Vancouver flew the transgender flag in front of its city hall to mark the start of the local Pride week. Courtesy the Calgary Herald.

Last July the city of Vancouver flew the transgender flag in front of its city hall to mark the start of the local Pride week. Courtesy the Calgary Herald.

In what is being billed as a national first for a county, Santa Clara County will raise the transgender pride flag next week in front of the county government building.

The event, which will take place at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 22, is to mark the sixth annual International Transgender Day of Visibility, which will be celebrated Thursday, March 31. The event is a counterpoint to the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance held annually in November to honor those individuals who have been killed.

Next week’s flag raising ceremony is the first time that the South Bay county has observed the day of visibility by flying the transgender pride flag in McEnery Plaza at the County of Santa Clara Government Center, located at 70 W. Hedding Street in San Jose.

Several Canadian cities, such as Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Barrie in Ontario, have flown the transgender pride flag, which features colored bands of blue, pink and white, in the past to honor their transgender citizens.

The transgender pride flag has been flow in various U.S. cities on certain occasions, such as at Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco’s gay Castro district in November of 2012 after a public debate about doing so. Last year Drexel University flew it at three of its campuses to mark the college’s Transgender Remembrance Week, and the city of Philadelphia raised the flag in front of its City Hall last June in coordination with a yearly transgender health conference it hosts.

In an email gay Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager sent late yesterday (Wednesday, March 16) to constituents informing them about the event, he wrote that it will make “ours the first county in the nation to do so.”

Yeager will be joined by local transgender rights activist Lance Moore at the ceremony, and at the board meeting later that morning, he will ask his colleagues to adopt a proclamation declaring Transgender Day of Visibility in Santa Clara County.

“The Transgender Pride Flag, which will fly through the entire month of April, will fly just below the Rainbow Flag, which I had the honor of raising last June following the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality,” wrote Yeager. “I encourage you to come out for this special occasion.”

The South Bay Transgender Day of Visibility will be held Saturday, April 2 at the Billy DeFrank LGBTQ Community Center. The newly created Santa Clara County Office of LGBTQ Affairs will be taking part in the daylong event, which starts at 1:30 p.m. and will feature resources on medical care, legal concerns, social issues, economic opportunity, family relationships and more, according to Yeager’s office.

The evening will feature variety show entertainment from 7 to 10 p.m. and all proceeds will benefit the programs and services of the Billy DeFrank Center. There will also be an afterhours party hosted by Renegades bar, which is located very near to the center at 501 W. Taylor Street in downtown San Jose. For more information and the schedule of events, visit the web page here.

“Transgender Day of Visibility reminds us of the progress we’ve made and the work still unfinished in the fight for transgender equality,” noted Yeager. “I’m proud of the county’s involvement in this event, and with support from the new Office of LGBTQ Affairs I look forward to continue working for the health and well-being of our transgender community year round.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 1:45 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Books Inc. to close Castro shop

Books Inc. announced this morning (Tuesday, March 15) that it’s closing its location in San Francisco’s Castro district. The shop has lost its lease, owners said.

“We have served authors and customers in the Castro for over 20 years and thank everyone for the support,” said CEO Michael Tucker in a news release. “We look forward to continuing service for the community in the Opera Plaza location” on Van Ness Avenue.

The Castro shop is expected to close in June.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on this story in the Thursday, March 17 edition.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 15, 2016 @ 11:00 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF Pride announces first grand marshals for 2016

Larry Yang. Photo: Facebook.

Larry Yang. Photo: Facebook.

San Francisco’s LGBT Pride Celebration Committee has announced Larry Yang, Janetta Johnson, and Black Lives Matter as the first round of grand marshals for the 2016 parade and festival.

Yang is a meditation and mindfulness teacher who’s “committed to serving multicultural, queer and activist communities,” according to Pride. He was a key player in developing the East Bay Meditation Center and the Insight Community of the Desert, among other achievements. He’s also on the teacher’s council of Spirit Rock Meditation Center.

Pride described Johnson, executive director of the Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project, as a “healer” whose “experiences as a formerly incarcerated trans person have inspired and informed her work to affirm the value of black trans lives through media, education and community-building.” TGI Justice works to help people who’ve been incarcerated.

Black Lives Matter is an international network working to rebuild the black liberation movement “and affirm the lives of all black people, specifically black women, queer and trans people,” and others, according to Pride.

More grand marshals are expected to be announced soon. This year’s Pride festivities are June 25-26.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on the grand marshals in the Thursday, March 17 edition.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 10, 2016 @ 7:47 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Man arrested in Duboce Triangle fire station burglary

San Francisco Fire Station #6 in Duboce Triangle. Photo: Google.

San Francisco Fire Station #6 in Duboce Triangle. Photo: Google.

San Francisco police arrested a man Wednesday night for allegedly stealing a fire turncoat and other items from a fire station in the Duboce Triangle.

Robert Greve, 30, was arrested after “anonymous citizens” told the victim that someone “had just run out of the fire station with some items” at 11:50 p.m. in the 100 block of Sanchez Street, Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman, said in a summary.

The victim chased the suspect, since identified as Greve, caught him, retrieved the items, and called police.

Greve, who’s already on parole, was arrested on suspicion of burglary, according to Esparza.

Along with the coat, Greve allegedly stole a radio and flashlight.

Esparza didn’t say whether the victim, 45, is a firefighter.

He said he didn’t have a city of residence or other address information for Greve.

A December 2015 San Francisco Chronicle story mentions a Robert Greve and indicates Greve may be transgender.

“Robert Greve has seven years in and out of custody and nothing good to say about San Francisco’s County Jail at the Hall of Justice on Bryant Street,” the story says. “…There are few counseling or educational programs, and the transgender inmate feels unsafe.”

“They don’t got no place for us,” Greve is quoted as saying.

The Bay Area Reporter wasn’t immediately able to verify it’s the same Robert Greve.

Sheriff’s department records don’t list him as being in custody. Police haven’t released his booking photo.

 [Update, Friday, March 11]: According to the sheriff’s department, Greve is in custody, without bail, on felony charges of second-degree burglary and grand theft of personal property, as well as parole violation. A court date wasn’t available.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 12:50 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Man beaten in Castro robbery


Photo: Rick Gerharter

A man was beaten Sunday night in San Francisco’s Castro district by two men who attacked him and took his phone.

The March 6 incident started at 11 p.m. at 18th and Castro streets as the victim, 24, left a bar, according to police.

One suspect asked to borrow the victim’s phone, and he let him. When he asked for his phone back, the suspect said “he didn’t have it,” Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman, said in a summary.

The two men started “fighting over the phone,” and a second suspect joined in, Esparza said. The men punched and kicked the victim several times and fled with the phone.

The victim suffered lacerations to his face, elbow, forehead, and hip.

The suspects are described only as black men between the ages of 20 and 30.

No arrests have been made.



— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 9, 2016 @ 3:36 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Duboce Triangle couple seeks help after attack

Dean and Mary Ayers

Dean and Mary Ayers

A queer Duboce Triangle couple are looking for help after they were recently attacked near their home.

Friends of Dean and Mary Ayers have started a Gofundme campaign to help pay for medical expenses and other costs. As of Thursday, almost $18,000 toward the $25,000 goal had been raised.

In interview, Dean Ayers said four men approached him and his wife Tuesday, February 23 on Sanchez Street. One of the men said he wanted to rape her and then assaulted the couple. Both were injured, and Mary Ayers is still in the hospital.

Video surveillance footage has been obtained, but police Sergeant Robert Terry said no arrests have been made yet. It does not appear the incident was related to the couple’s LGBT status.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on this story in the Thursday, March 10 edition.

Anyone with information in the case can contact the SFPD anonymous tip line at (415) 575- 4444. People may also text a tip to TIP411. Type SFPD in the subject line. The incident number is 160160871.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 3, 2016 @ 5:31 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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