Issue:  Vol. 44 / No. 35 / 28 August 2014
 

SF planning commission backs LGBT housing rule

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 1.43.40 PMSan Francisco’s planning commission is backing a proposed rule that would require national developers wishing to build residential projects with 10 or more units in the city to disclose if they prohibit LGBT discrimination.

The commission voted 5-0 at its meeting this afternoon (Thursday, July 10) to support the proposal, known as the LGBTQ Equal Housing Ordinance. It was introduced earlier this year by gay District 9 Supervisor David Campos at the suggestion of LGBT housing rights activists.

“It is a no brainer,” said commissioner Gwyneth Borden. “As a former board member of Equality California I can’t more enthusiastically support this measure.”

As the Bay Area Reporter first reported in March, the new rule was crafted with an eye toward providing nationwide protections for LGBT tenants. Currently 21 states in the U.S. prohibit housing discrimination based on sexual orientation, and 16 states also ban gender identity based housing discrimination.

“This gives us an opportunity again to share San Francisco’s commitment to end LGBT discrimination across the nation,” testified Tom Temprano, co-president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, at today’s hearing. “I encourage you all to take this opportunity to let San Francisco continue to take its national stand on LGBT issues.”

AIDS Housing Alliance founder Brian Basinger, who worked with Campos’ office in writing the ordinance, implied its passage would help LGBT advocates push for anti-discrimination measures at the federal level.

“We will get all these companies, from places in the country like my home state of Texas, out in front saying protecting LGBT people from discrimination is the right thing to do. Then we can go to Congress and say to all these congressmen look, these companies in your jurisdictions are already with us.”

Thus, suggested Basinger, “it will give them cover to get behind” national laws banning discrimination in housing based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Yet commissioner Hisashi Sugaya pointed out that if a developer says it does not ban LGBT-based discrimination they would still be allowed to seek permits for their proposed projects in San Francisco.

“Just so people don’t get the wrong idea” about the proposal’s impact, said Sugaya, who voted to support the ordinance.

If adopted by the city as expected, the policy would only require the planning department to inquire, as part of its routine application process, whether developers of larger projects have a national policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the sale, lease or financing of any dwelling unit.

The planning department would be prohibited from using that information as part of its evaluation of a project. Although it would be able to tell developers their application is not complete until the LGBT housing protection questions are answered.

Advocates, on the other hand, could use an applicant’s answer to the question to rally opposition to a project if the company doesn’t protect LGBT tenants. They could also use the information as leverage in extracting concessions from developers, such as seeking more affordable units be set aside than required by the city’s rules.

As the B.A.R.‘s Political Notebook noted in a story in today’s issue, the planning department had urged the commission to approve the proposal. The city’s Human Rights Commission also is backing it and could use the information from developers to compile yearly reports for the Board of Supervisors to review.

The supervisors will now take up the proposal and are expected to approve it at their July 15 meeting. The legislation is co-sponsored by Supervisors Scott Wiener, Jane Kim, Mark Farrell, John Avalos, and Eric Mar.

— Matthew S. Bajko, July 10, 2014 @ 2:11 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Second phase of Castro sidewalk work to begin Monday, July 14

A couple walks down the new portion of the sidewalks on Castro Street, which were completed in June. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

A couple walks down the new portion of the sidewalks on Castro Street, which were completed in June. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Crews will be back at it in the Castro next week replacing the sidewalk section adjacent to buildings as work on the second phase of the streetscape project ramps up.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted last month, fencing around the newly poured sidewalk extensions along the 400 and 500 blocks of Castro Street came down in early June to provide pedestrian access to the widened pathways.

But due to a late start this winter, crews ran out of time to replace the entire sidewalks by a self-imposed deadline to wrap up work by June 17 so as not to interfere with the Frameline LGBT film festival and Pride activities in the city’s gayborhood.

According to a posting today on a website tracking the project, demolition of the remaining older sections of sidewalk will begin Monday, July 14 on the east side of the 400 block of Castro Street, between 18th and Market streets. This portion of the sidewalk work will be done at night in order to allow for customer access during daytime business hours.

The contractor, Ghilotti Brothers of Marin, plans to tackle each block separately. It expects to work on the east side of the 500 block of Castro Street, between 18th and 19th streets, from July 17 to August 1.

Next up will be the west side of the 500 block of Castro Street, between 18th and 19th Streets, from July 28 to August 8. And the final segment, on the west side of the 400 block of Castro Street, between 18th and Market streets, is set to be completed between July 30 and August 13.

The work on each block will also entail adjusting utility boxes for PG&E, Comcast, and AT&T, grading adjustments, and the final pouring of the new sidewalk. Also to be installed are the Rainbow Honor Walk’s first 20 plaques.

The walk honors LGBT people who have made significant contributions to society. The plaques are set to be officially unveiled toward the end of the project in late September or early October.

Once the sidewalk work is finished, then crews will  begin installing new street lights and pedestrian scale lights, rewire the overhead Muni lines, plant street trees, etch historic facts about the area into the sidewalks, install bike racks and leaning rails. One of the last steps will be to repave the roadway and install rainbow crosswalks at the 18th Street intersection.

Work at Jane Warner Plaza and the Market Street intersection are scheduled to be part of the final phase of the project.

City officials said this week that the project “is still on track to be substantially complete” by the Castro Street Fair,  which will be held this year on Sunday, October 5.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 1:26 pm PST
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Judge strikes down Colorado marriage ban

Judge C. Scott Crabtree (Photo: State of Colorado)

Judge C. Scott Crabtree (Photo: State of Colorado)

A judge in Colorado struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban Wednesday (July 9).

According to the national Human Rights Campaign, Adams County District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree said in his ruling in Brinkman v. Long, “The court holds that the marriage bans violate plaintiffs’ due process and equal protection guarantees under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The existence of civil unions is further evidence of discrimination against same-sex couples and does not ameliorate the discriminatory effect of marriage bans.” Crabtree stayed the ruling, which is likely to be appealed.

Marriage bans have also been struck down in several other states since last June, when the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited federal recognition of same-sex marriages, and also killed California’s Proposition 8 same-sex marriage ban on a technicality.

In a statement Wednesday, HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said, “It is fitting that today, the 146th anniversary of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, that a Colorado court has struck down the state’s discriminatory marriage ban relying on the equal protection clause. These marriage bans will continue to fall because the Constitution does not allow for such blatant discrimination.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, July 9, 2014 @ 4:52 pm PST
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SOMA murder suspect arraigned, held on $50 million bail

Michael Sione Green. Photo: Courtesy Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation Dept.

Michael Sione Green. Photo: Courtesy Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation Dept.

As the man accused of fatally shooting a woman outside a gay San Francisco club in November 2013 was arraigned this week, a judge let his bail stand at $50 million after a prosecutor called him an “enormous danger to public safety.”

Michael Sione Green, 24, of San Mateo, is charged with murder in the death of Melquiesha “Mel” Warren, 23, in a parking lot near Club OMG, 43 Sixth Street, where  Warren and her female partner had gone to celebrate the partner’s birthday.

According to police accounts, Green shot Warren after a minor accident in a parking lot at Sixth and Jessie streets at about 2:10 a.m. November 17. Warren was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 2:40 a.m. A friend of Warren’s was also shot and hospitalized, but she was eventually released.

The San Francisco Police Department quickly announced Green as the suspect, but he evaded arrest until May, when police announced they’d arrested him in Miami. Green fought extradition but was brought back to San Francisco this week.

He made his first appearance in San Francisco Superior Court Tuesday, July 8. Wearing an orange jumpsuit, with his hands cuffed in front of him, Green looked toward the floor as he entered the courtroom.

After Schulman said another judge, who’d dealt with Green’s search warrant, had set bail at $50 million, Kwixuan Maloof, managing attorney for the Public Defender’s Felony Unit, laughed, then apologized.

Maloof said he’d never heard of bail being set so high, and said $1 million to $5 million was customary.

But Assistant District Attorney John Ullom said, “I would dispute what is customary,” and the circumstances of the case “justify the amount” that had been set.

Ullom recounted how Warren had gotten into a dispute with another person after the parking lot collision and Green had intervened, allegedly shooting her in the face. He then “emptied his gun” into the car in which Warren had been riding, said Ullom. He noted that Green had fled and remained a fugitive for months.

Green presents “an enormous danger to public safety” and is “a significant flight risk,” he said.

Maloof said Green couldn’t afford to secure his release even if his bail was set at the comparatively low figure of $1 million, and asked Schulman to be “reasonable.”

During Tuesday’s exchange, Schulman said he didn’t know “whether I have the power to revisit” the other judge’s determination, and he said the search warrant affidavit had been sealed and wasn’t included in Green’s docket, so he couldn’t review it to help him make any decisions on bail.

But Maloof said, “Any time someone is being arraigned,” the judge does “have the authority to adjust bail and set bail.”

Schulman ultimately kept the bail set at $50 million “without prejudice,” leaving it open for further argument.

Green didn’t enter a plea and spoke only briefly to confirm he understood his right to have a preliminary hearing by September 8, at the latest.

Schulman appointed the Public Defender’s office to represent Green, who is expected to enter a plea Thursday, July 10, which is also when authorities plan to identify an attorney for him.

Green faces other charges and allegations related to using a semi-automatic handgun in Warren’s death. Maloof waived the reading of the remaining charges, so Schulman didn’t say what they were.

Schulman said Green is also known as Thomas Bola, but the spelling of that name wasn’t clear and a copy of the complaint against him wasn’t immediately available Tuesday.

Shortly after Warren was killed, police said they were searching for a woman who was over 6 feet tall and described as Pacific Islander who’d allegedly been involved in the parking altercation. Police have declined to say whether they’re still seeking other people in connection with the case.

Green’s criminal history includes assault and domestic violence charges, records show. A call to the San Mateo address listed in court documents for him wasn’t immediately returned Wednesday (July 9).

People who knew Warren have described her as ambitious and kind. She was originally from Oakland and graduated in 2012 from California State University, Sacramento with a criminal justice degree.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 4:19 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Folsom Street announces entertainment line-up

Austra (Photo: Austra Facebook page)

Austra (Photo: Austra Facebook page)

Organizers of the 2014 Folsom Street Fair have announced the entertainers for the September 21 festival, which takes place on Folsom Street between Eighth and 13th streets.

“This year’s line up is arguably one of our very best,” Folsom Street Events Executive Director Demetri Moshoyannis said in a news release Tuesday, July 8. “We have been able to attract some of the best talent in the indie rock world – and many of them are queer to boot. It’s a diverse, sexy, and exciting offering. I hope people discover some new music and go out to support these incredible talents.”

Austra, MNDR, and Monarchy are this year’s main stage headliners. Bay Area acts including Zbörnak and The Younger Lovers will also appear on the main stage.

The nonprofit, which last year distributed $358,779 from the festival and related events to other charities, aims to present a broad range of music “from power punk to hip-hop and electronic to indie,” organizers said. “Folsom Street Fair presents a tour de force of live acts that will appeal to its queer audience, pairing alternative music with alternative sexualities.”

The fair will also include the Magnitude and Deviants dance areas. Circuit legends Tony Moran and Tracy Young will be the headliners at Magnitude, while The Cucarachas will be among the main entertainment at Deviants.

Full line-ups and schedules are available on the Folsom Street Events website.

 

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 11:36 am PST
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Speier proposes paying back servicemembers discharged under DADT

Congresswoman Jackie Speier (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Congresswoman Jackie Speier (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Congresswomen Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) has introduced legislation that would “restore owed separation pay to military service members discharged under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy,” her office announced Thursday (June 26). Speier’s proposal is known as the Military Separation Fairness Act.

From 1993 to 2010, approximately 14,000 military service members were discharged under DADT, and most only received half their separation pay, according to Speier. DADT, which banned gays from serving openly in the military, was repealed in 2010.

“Thousands and thousands of men and women were discharged from the military under a discriminatory directive that stipulated homosexual service members receive only one half of the separation pay they rightfully earned,” Speier stated. “My bill will require that the rest of these DADT service members who served for six or more years receive the difference between their original payment and full separation pay plus interest within 90 days. First, we unjustly kicked them out of the military and then they received just half of their separation pay. It’s deplorable that this discrimination has been allowed to continue.”

Speier’s proposal has 28 co-sponsors in the House. Backers include the Human Rights Campaign, the American Civil Liberties Union, OutServe/Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, and the American Military Partners Association, according to Speier.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 26, 2014 @ 1:10 pm PST
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Wax figure of Milk debuted

tussaudsmilk05

Stuart Milk poses with the wax figure of his late uncle Harvey Milk (Photo:Noah Berger/Noah Berger Photography)

A wax figure of slain gay icon Harvey Milk was unveiled Thursday (June 26) at the opening of the Madame Tussauds San Francisco section.

Stuart Milk, Milk’s nephew, was on hand to unveil the figure. Milk’s likeness will be included in a special section of the museum that will also feature Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and other local celebrities.

“My uncle Harvey always talked about being your ‘authentic self’,” Milk said in a news release. “What Madame Tussauds has created is the definition of ‘authentic’. Harvey would have been proud — and tickled — to be honored this way, especially, on the week of Gay Pride in his hometown of San Francisco.”

A Madame Tussauds news release said, “The attraction will celebrate San Francisco’s most loved figures and landmarks through the use of dedicated ‘Spirit of San Francisco’ room. As with all Madame Tussauds, there will be no ropes or barriers so visitors are able to get close, examine and even touch the incredible detail and artistry of these intricate, lifelike wax figures.”

Milk became the first openly gay elected official in both California and San Francisco when he won a seat on the city’s Board of Supervisors in November 1977. A year later he was assassinated inside City Hall along with then-Mayor George Moscone by disgruntled former supervisor Dan White.

The exhibit opens at 11:30 a.m. Thursday. Madame Tussauds is located at 145 Jefferson Street at Fisherman’s Wharf.

For ticket prices and other information, visit http://www.madametussauds.com/SanFrancisco/.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 25, 2014 @ 7:45 pm PST
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Police: Castro arson unrelated to other fires

San Francisco police are investigating an arson fire that was discovered early Wednesday morning (June 25) outside someone’s Castro area home in the first block of Diamond Street, but an officer said the fire appears unrelated to other recent blazes in the city.

According to police, the fire department was called to the scene at 12:30 a.m. Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman, said a resident of the home had placed a box or crate outside that contained wood.

When firefighters arrived, the box was on fire. “The fire damaged the garage door,” said Esparza. There were no injuries, according to a police summary.

Esparza said no suspect description is available, but he added, “Nothing indicates that it’s related” to the fires recently reported in the South of Market neighborhood. Those incidents occurred “geographically in a totally different area,” he noted, and those incidents involved trash receptacles.

Police are seeking the public's help in identifying this arson suspect (Photo: Courtesy SFPD)

Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying this arson suspect .(Photo: Courtesy SFPD)

Tuesday, police released a video and photos as they sought the public’s help in identifying the person believed to be responsible for the South of Market incidents.

[Update Wednesday night:] Officer Gordon Shyy, a police spokesman, announced Wednesday that police have arrested the man they believe is the South of Market arsonist. Shyy didn’t provide the man’s name but he said more information would be released Thursday. [End update.]

[Update Thursday, June 26:] Police announced the man arrested is Anthony Bejarano, 47, of San Francisco. Bejarano was arrested on the 200 block of Harrison Street Wednesday night and is in “San Francisco County Jail facing six felony counts of arson including arson of an inhabited structure,” Sergeant Danielle Newman, a police spokeswoman, said in a news release. “Bejarano is suspected of committing at least four arson fires in the South of Market Area.”

Newman thanked the public for quickly sending tips and added, “The tips we received resulted in the arrest of a dangerous arsonist believed to be responsible for fires set inside of an occupied building last week.” Police have not released a booking photo [End update.]

“Several of these events have involved construction sites, occupied buildings, and garbage receptacles,” Sergeant Danielle Newman, a police spokeswoman, said in a news release. Police have released a video and three photos of the suspect. No new information was available as of Wednesday afternoon, according to Esparza.

“We’re just hoping that the video helps develop some leads and identify who this person is,” he said.

Anyone with information on the South of Market fires is asked to contact Inspector John Miller of the Arson Task Force at (415) 920-2944.

Tips in the South of Market or Diamond Street incidents may be offered anonymously by calling (415) 575-4444 or texting a tip to TIP411. Type “SFPD” in the subject line and then the message.

The police incident report number for the Diamond Street fire is 140 525 267.

 

 

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 4:26 pm PST
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Zoning change introduced to smooth path for new SF gay club

SF Supervisor Jane Kim hugs drag queen Heklina.

SF Supervisor Jane Kim hugs drag queen Heklina.

Two weeks after she faced public pressure to address a zoning impediment that a proposed gay nightclub was facing, San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim introduced a regulatory fix this week to resolve the problem.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted in its June 12 Political Notebook, a group of LGBT investors is in escrow to buy the former Oasis nightclub at the corner of 11th and Folsom streets in the city’s South of Market neighborhood. One of the lead partners in the deal is drag queen Heklina, who plans to revive her weekly Trannyshack drag cabaret shows at the space, albeit under a new name.

Although the Oasis site is included in the entertainment corridor created on 11th Street between Folsom and Harrison streets, it is currently zoned to be operated solely as a bar and not as an entertainment venue. Thus, Heklina, whose given name is Stefan Grygelko, and her partners would be barred from having live performances or hiring a DJ for the space.

Upset at what they felt like was Kim’s slow response in addressing the matter, the investors went public with their grievances on social media platforms in early June. Kim, whose District 6 seat covers SOMA, told the B.A.R. at the time she was surprised by the complaints as her office had been working on the issue with neighborhood leaders and the city attorney’s office.

This week Kim made good on her promise to submit legislation to remove the zoning obstacles impacting Heklina’s plans for the Oasis venue.

“Introduced legislation this week which will permit future permanent home for Heklina & Trannyshack- currently 18 years strong! Can’t wait to see it turn legal (21!) at its new home on Folsom/11th,” wrote Kim in a post on her Facebook page this afternoon (Wednesday, June 25).

According to the legislative fix Kim has proposed, the city would delete a zoning prohibition against a non-residential use exceeding 25,000 square feet in the area where the nightclub is located. It would also authorize a nighttime entertainment use in that part of SOMA within 200 feet of any property within a Residential Enclave or Residential Enclave-Mixed District where a nighttime entertainment use existed within five years prior to an application to re-establish the use.

The Planning Commission must first vote on the proposal before it is heard by the Board of Supervisors’ Land Use Committee. It would then be submitted to the full board for a vote.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 3:07 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Man sentenced to prison for 2012 Castro carjacking

Antoine Dilworth (Photo courtesy SFPD)

Antoine Dilworth (Photo courtesy SFPD)

A gay San Francisco man who recently pleaded guilty to carjacking another man in the Castro in 2012 was sentenced this week to five years in prison.

According to court testimony not long after the carjacking, the July 2012 incident started after Antoine Dilworth, 30, approached the victim, who was then 27 and had just left the gay nightclub Badlands. The man, who the Bay Area Reporter isn’t naming because he’s a crime victim, reluctantly agreed to give Dilworth a ride, and when he tried to drop Dilworth off a few blocks away near Beck’s Motor Lodge, Dilworth stabbed him and took his car. Dilworth was arrested soon thereafter.

In January, Dilworth pleaded guilty in exchange for an aggravated assault charge being dropped.

Tuesday, June 24, San Francisco Superior Court Judge James Collins ordered Dilworth, whose full legal name is Antoine Joulent Tooks-Dilworth, to serve five years in state prison. Collins granted 711 days time served and 106 days for conduct credits, so Dilworth could end up serving less than 3 years in custody.

However, he’ll also have a strike on his record, meaning punishment for any future crimes would be enhanced.

The victim wasn’t in court, but Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai said the man “is 100 percent on board with the plea.”

Dilworth, who’s been in custody since his arrest, didn’t make a statement, but he smiled as he entered the courtroom.

His fiancé, Kochise Jones, 22, was in court for the sentencing. Asked outside court about the sentence, Jones said, “It is what it is,” and there isn’t anything “we can really do about it.”

Jones said he doesn’t think Dilworth is guilty of carjacking. Among other problems he had with the case, he said it didn’t make sense that Dilworth would steal the victim’s Toyota Corolla when he and Dilworth already had a Mercedes-Benz.

Dilworth suggested in a recent interview that he was innocent in the 2012 case and said he pleaded guilty because his attorney, Erin Crane, had said she wasn’t confident they’d win if they went to trial. Crane had also said the judge wasn’t likely to find grounds for him to get another attorney, according to Dilworth.

In response, Crane told the B.A.R., “I’m going to ask that you not speak to him again, because he’s represented by council. I have no comment to make about the case.”

Dilworth has an extensive criminal history that includes a carjacking charge, and he has spent time in prison before, according to an interview with him and court records.

In Dilworth’s previous carjacking case, he eventually pleaded guilty to auto theft in exchange for other charges being dismissed, according to court records, and in March 2006, he was sentenced to more than two years in state prison.

 

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 2:53 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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