Issue:  Vol. 46 / No. 5 / 4 February 2016

SF planners support request by AIDS Healthcare Foundation to relocate Castro pharmacy

A notice for public hearing is taped to the window of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation clinic on 18th Street. Photo: Rick Gerharter

A notice for public hearing is taped to the window of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation clinic on 18th Street. Photo: Rick Gerharter

The San Francisco planning department is recommending that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation be granted a permit to relocate its pharmacy in the city’s gay Castro district.

In a report made public today (Friday, January 8), planner Veronica Flores recommended that the city’s planning commission – at its meeting next Thursday, January 14 – approve the Los Angeles-based AIDS agency’s request to move the pharmacy it owns on 18th Street into the street-facing portion of 518 Castro Street.

It relocated its health clinic into the rear of the space in the fall of 2014.

“The business is currently operating at 4071 18th Street around the corner from the subject property and is therefore desirable for, and compatible with the surrounding neighborhood,” she wrote.

Flores noted in the report that “the project promotes the continued operation of an established business, and contributes to the viability of the overall Castro Street NCD” or neighborhood commercial district.

And the project, she added, “would not displace an existing retail tenant providing convenience goods and services to the neighborhood, and would not result in a net increase in the number of pharmacies in the area.”

AHF and city officials have sparred over the question on if the permit is needed or not. The agency was initially granted the permit in 2014 without any public review but then city planners reversed course.

They determined that AHF’s pharmacy fell under the rules governing chain stores, even if it changed the name from AHF Pharmacy to Castro Pharmacy, and would need to secure a conditional use permit in order to relocate it.

AHF appealed that decision to the city’s Board of Appeals, which last March ruled against it. And the Board of Supervisors has enacted interim legislation to close the naming loophole AHF had attempted to use in order to avoid seeking a permit.

Now, as the Bay Area Reporter noted in a story in its January 7 issue, the permit request has turned into a proxy fight over AHF’s stances regarding HIV prevention and AIDS funding. The agency has faced derision in San Francisco for its opposition to widespread usage of PrEP as an HIV prevention tool.

It has also come under attack for pushing for the use of condoms on all adult film sets in California and for its trying to block high-rise developments in downtown Los Angeles. The agency has also been accused by former staffers of bilking Medicare and Medicaid nearly $20 million.

Others opposed to the agency have pointed to its refusal in 2013 to pay rent to local hospice Maitri, its landlord at its former space on Church Street. The dispute resulted in a lawsuit brought by Maitri that the two agencies agreed to settle.

“This neighborhood is well served by many pharmacies, so this business is not needed,” wrote Castro resident Jim Manning in a letter to the planning department. “The current AHF Pharmacy at 4071 18th Street is an empty void in our vibrant neighborhood. AHF has done NOTHING to activate this space. Therefore allowing this move is not desirable.”

Others have countered that AHF supports other local nonprofits and that it is merely moving its pharmacy from one location to another. They also argue that it will be better for AHF’s clients to have the pharmacy collocated with the health care clinic.

“I believe health access needs to be dependent upon the individual and their personal provider and insurance. I see there to be no problem with have access easier under one roof for those present and future who utilize the facilities of AHF,” wrote Tyler Deutscher, general manager of clothing stores Outfit Castro and Knobs Retail. “This helps those who are in a hurry, have limited ability and all who would use the facility.”

AHF officials have argued that its permit request should be judged solely on if it adheres to the city’s zoning rules. Any other issues, they contend, are immaterial.

“To be candid, it does not matter if the AHF Pharmacy is around the corner or miles away, the fact that patients need to make one more stop, or take one more step (especially for those whose infection is disabling), is sometimes enough to delay action on any given day and any delay can mean the difference between being healthy or not and, to us, that is unacceptable,” wrote Dale Gluth, AHF’s Bay Area regional director, in a letter to planning commissioners.

The planning commission meeting begins at noon Thursday in Room 400 at City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place.

— Matthew S. Bajko, January 8, 2016 @ 5:54 pm PST
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Woman accused of robbing Wiener set for hearing

The San Francisco woman accused of recently robbing gay Supervisor Scott Wiener is due in court Thursday, January 7 for a preliminary hearing.

Lasonya D. Wells, 41, faces counts of second-degree robbery, grand theft, and attempted extortion, among other charges. She’s been in custody since her December 18 arrest. A judge is expected Thursday to determine whether there’s enough evidence to hold her for trial.

According to police, the incident occurred at about 5:45 p.m. December 18 as Wiener, 45, was walking in the Mission district. The District 8 supervisor told officers that Wells had taken his cellphone, but he’d “negotiated” with her to get it back in exchange for cash.

Wells and two other suspects escorted Wiener to an ATM, where she demanded that he give her cash, Officer Carlos Manfredi, a police spokesman, said in a news release.

Wiener withdrew cash and gave it to Wells, who gave back his phone “through a third party. All suspects subsequently fled the scene,” Manfredi said.

Police immediately canvassed the area for witnesses and evidence, Manfredi said, and “Mission Station investigators obtained evidence which led to the identity and arrest of Wells at her residence.”

Police haven’t released Wells’ booking photo. Manfredi didn’t immediately respond to an email today (Wednesday, January 6) asking whether there have been more arrests in the case.

Police didn’t name Wiener in their news release, but he shared a detailed account of the incident with San Francisco Magazine.

In a recent interview with the Bay Area Reporter, Wiener declined to comment on Wells’ prosecution.

“The process will play itself out,” he said.

However, the supervisor urged other people to be cautious when walking around carrying their phones.

“I think we all should try to minimize having our phones out, myself included. But with that said, it’s not realistic in modern life never to take your phone out in public,” Wiener said.

When his phone was “snatched,” he said, “I was looking at my calendar to see the address where I was going.” He reiterated people should have their phones out as little as possible, but said, “the more important thing is always to be aware of our surroundings.”

He said he’s walked through the intersection where the incident occurred “a million times. … We get very comfortable with our surroundings when we’ve been to a place a lot.”

Court documents indicate Wells has previously been charged with numerous other crimes, including robbery and drug charges.

Wells declined an interview request made through jail staff. A deputy public defender didn’t respond to a phone message requesting comment on Wells’ case.

Wiener has announced a public safety meeting for District 8 will be held Thursday, January 14 at 6 p.m. at St. Philip School, 725 Diamond Street.

He said last month that he wanted to have the meeting, which is separate from a hearing he’s hoping to schedule soon at City Hall.

The public safety meeting for January will look at property crimes and “discuss the situation, including ways to make our community safer and how to have strong communication between the police and the community,” he told the B.A.R. last month.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, January 6, 2016 @ 3:52 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF couple to be released after pleading to attack on trans woman

A couple accused of attacking a transgender woman are set to be released from jail today (Wednesday, December 23) after pleading guilty to charges in the case.

Dewayne Kemp, 36, and his fiancé, Rebecca Westover, 42, had faced charges including assault and hate crime allegations stemming from the November 15 incident in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood.

In court today, Kemp pleaded guilty to assault, and Westover pleaded guilty to battery. Both admitted to hate crime allegations, enhancing both of the crimes to felonies.

Victim Samantha Hulsey (Photo courtesy ABC7)

Victim Samantha Hulsey (Photo courtesy ABC7)

They are expected to be sentenced to three years of probation at their next court date, January 29. Superior Court Judge Brendan Conroy approved their release but warned them that if they didn’t show up for court appearances or committed any new crimes, they could face time in prison.

The preliminary hearing in the case had already gotten underway today when the plea deals were announced.

Samantha Hulsey, the victim in the case, appeared in court this morning, but she left before testifying. She didn’t immediately respond to a phone message after the plea deal was announced.

Deputy Public Defender Kwixuan Maloof, who’s representing Kemp, noted Hulsey’s departure and told Conroy that he didn’t agree with his client’s decision to plead guilty.

Outside the courtroom, Maloof, who was criticized in recent weeks for misgendering Hulsey, said, “This is bullshit. This was a political case.”

He said Mayor Ed Lee and District Attorney George Gascón had commented on the case “before any evidence was presented. Justice was not done today. It’s a shame that someone like this woman would use her status in the LGBT community for her own selfish political motives.”

Attorney Murray Zisholz, who’s representing Westover, said it had been up to her whether to plead to the battery charge, but he agreed with her decision.

“Going to trial is a crapshoot,” Zisholz said.

Kemp and Westover have claimed the trouble started when Hulsey barged past them and called Kemp the N-word. Hulsey has denied pushing past the couple and using the racial slur.

Slurs including the word “faggot” were also used during the attack, which occurred near the Holiday Inn, at 50 Eighth Street.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on this story in the Wednesday, December 31 edition.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 23, 2015 @ 3:49 pm PST
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Brown appoints lesbian judge to 4th Circuit appeal court

California Governor Jerry Brown announced Wednesday (December 23) that he has appointed San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Marsha G. Slough to a seat on the Fourth District Court of Appeal.

(Judge Marsha G. Slough. Photo: Courtesy Governor's Office)

(Judge Marsha G. Slough. Photo: Courtesy Governor’s Office)

If confirmed, which is expected, Slough, 57, a lesbian, would be the first openly gay justice in the history of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, according to a statement from Brown’s office.

Slough fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Betty A. Richli.

The position requires confirmation by the Commission on Judicial Appointments. The commission consists of Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, and Senior Presiding Justice Manuel A. Ramirez.

The fourth district is made up of six southern California counties: San Diego, Imperial, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Inyo.

Slough, who lives in Redlands, has been presiding judge at the San Bernardino County Superior Court since 2012, where she has served as a judge since 2003. She was an associate at Welebir and McCune in 2003 and a partner at Raynes and Slough from 2002 to 2003, where she was an associate from 1999 to 2002.

Slough was a partner at Foster, Driscoll and Reynolds from 1997 to 1998 and at Markman, Arczynski, Hanson, Curley and Slough from 1994 to 1997, where she was an associate from 1989 to 1994. She was an associate at MacLachlan, Burford and Arias from 1986 to 1989. Slough earned a Juris Doctor degree from Whittier Law School and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ottawa University.

Slough is a Democrat.

The compensation for the position is $211,330.

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

Folsom Street group seeks funds as rent increase forces move

Photo: Fred Alert

A Folsom fairgoer. Photo: Fred Alert

The group that produces San Francisco’s annual Folsom Street Fair and several other leather-themed events says a “severe” rent increase is forcing it to leave its longtime South of Market district office.

Folsom Street Events says it’s found a new office in the neighborhood, but the switch comes with a 47 percent rent increase, and it’s started an Indiegogo campaign to help pay for office furniture, heating and cooling units, and other equipment.

The new office is at 293 Eighth Street, near the BDSM-themed Wicked Grounds coffee shop. The organization expects to move in the first half of January.

Offering levels from “Hog Wild” at $50 to “Folsom Street Fair” at $1,000, the group hopes to raise $9,500. As of Thursday, the day after the campaign’s launch, $865 had come in.

The leather and fetish-devoted nonprofit, which this year donated over $347,000 to other charities, said on its campaign site that the move is “not unexpected.”

“Many other nonprofits and community organizations have been slowly pushed out by voracious landlords looking to raise rents and cater to tech companies who have no problem paying an unreasonable amount for rent because it is in a popular neighborhood,” Folsom Street said. “Sadly, this is the neighborhood in which we have to remain in order to manage our events as smoothly as possible.”

The actual Folsom Street, which is near the current and new offices, “in particular, is very important to us, so location is paramaount to our operations,” Folsom Street Executive Director Demetri Moshoyannis said in a brief interview.

Donations will help ensure that the organization, which has a budget of about $1.5 million, doesn’t have to dip into its reserve, which would “potentially” put “the future of our fairs at risk,” the campaign website says.

According to Folsom Street, which subleases space from AIDS Emergency Fund at 131 10th Street, it learned that AEF “was facing a severe rent increase:” 40 percent in 2016 and another 100 percent in 2017. Folsom’s current rent is $2,109 a month. Rent on the new space will be $3,100 a month.

“Luckily,” the leather nonprofit says, “we have been able to find a new office space that is 300 square feet larger with a five-year lease, and it’s right next to the fairgrounds!”

However, the group’s current furniture, storage equipment, and other supplies are “old, recycled from other organizations, or on its last legs,” the campaign website says. “We are moving into a space that lacks any heating or cooling units, too.”

Folsom Street plans to buy new furniture and equipment “on the cheap,” and “most of it” will come from shops like Ikea and Target.

With many nonprofits, Moshoyannis said, furniture is “always the last thing to get funded.”

The 2016 Folsom Street Fair is set for September 25.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 17, 2015 @ 3:43 pm PST
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Homeless to be remembered at City Hall vigil

Photo: City Church SF

Photo: City Church SF

Homeless people who died on San Francisco’s streets this year will be remembered with a candlelight vigil at 5:30 p.m. Monday, December 21 at City Hall.

San Francisco Interfaith Council and the San Francisco Night Ministry co-sponsor the annual memorial, held on National Homeless Memorial Day, “to bring people of all faiths together to commemorate the deaths of our homeless neighbors,” organizers said in a notice about the event. “This moving memorial will connect you to the city in a deep and thoughtful way. Please join us to remember those in our community who are no longer with us.”

The vigil will include the reading of names of those who have died. The number of people who have died this year on San Francisco’s streets wasn’t available.

People are asked to bring candles and gather on the steps of City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, on the Polk Street side.

For more information, visit


— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 12:19 pm PST
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Teens take groceries in Castro robbery

Two teenagers robbed a woman of her groceries and other items Monday night in San Francisco’s Castro district after she tried to fight them off, according to police.

The woman, 27, was near 18th and Clover streets December 14 when two teens approached her and grabbed her bag, wallet, cellphone, and groceries, Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman, said in a summary.

She fought with the teens, but she wasn’t able to hold on to her property, Esparza said. The suspects, described only as two 17-year-old Hispanic males, fled from the scene.

At least one of the suspects hit the woman with his fists, but she wasn’t injured.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 16, 2015 @ 5:29 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF AIDS Foundation names interim CEO

Tim Jones. Photo: LinkedIn.

Tim Jones. Photo: LinkedIn.

The San Francisco AIDS Foundation today (Friday, December 4) announced that its named Tim L. Jones as interim CEO.

Jones, who’s been a member of SFAF’s board since 2011 and is the former national director of operations for the consulting firm Deloitte, will start his new job Monday, December 7.

In August, the nonprofit announced the departure of CEO Neil Giuliano, who’s been named CEO of Greater Phoenix Leadership, a business organization focused on civic improvement initiatives.

With a budget of $32 million, SFAF, which was founded more than 30 years ago, is the city’s largest AIDS-based nonprofit. It provides a wide variety of free services, including HIV testing, counseling, and syringe access to thousands of people every year. The organization has also been playing a lead role in efforts to eliminate new HIV infections in the city.

In a news release, Giuliano said, “TJ will be excellent in this role and his calming presence and fresh set of eyes and ears will be valuable during this time of change.”

Referring to SFAF Senior Vice President James Loduca, Giuliano added that “coupled with James’s close knowledge of the many strategic imperatives facing the agency in 2016, the foundation is set-up perfectly for a thoughtful, orderly and successful leadership transition.”

Jones has “more than 25 years of leadership experience with complex, global organizations,” SFAF noted. On the nonprofit’s board, he’s chaired both the Fund Development and Audit committees.

Jones is also a two-time rider in the AIDS/LifeCyle, the annual fundraising bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles that benefits the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, and he’s been a roadie in the event three times.

As interim CEO, he’ll lead the senior executive team and ensure “the continued internal support, strength and stability of the organization’s expansive programs and client services,” as well as “organizational stability” as SFAF looks for a permanent CEO, the agency said in its news release.

The nonprofit also announced that Loduca has been promoted from vice president of public affairs and philanthropy to senior vice president.

He’ll continue to be “instrumental in the successful momentum of the agency’s many activities, including the public opening of the new Strut center in the Castro by the end of the year, continued success of AIDS/LifeCycle, and the agency’s Campaign for Health and Wellness, which has raised $12.6 million of its $15 million goal,” the agency said. “His leadership will help to ensure the continuity of foundation initiatives during the transition period.”

Strut is the new gay and bi men’s health center at 470 Castro Street that SFAF had expected to open this fall. An opening date hasn’t been announced.

The health and wellness campaign refers to the nonprofit’s efforts to raise money for programmatic expansion and renovation costs for the center

Incoming board Chair Philip Besirof said, “We couldn’t be more pleased for TJ to step into this role during this exciting time for the foundation, and to have James as a senior advisor to ensure a smooth transition while we search for our next CEO. TJ’s balanced approach, involvement as a board member, and personal connection to our mission and work will bring tremendous value to the agency.”

SFAF spokesman Andrew Hattori didn’t provide salary information for Jones or Loduca.

Giuliano’s total compensation for the fiscal year ending in June 2014 was $327,447, according to SFAF’s most recently available tax filings. Loduca’s total income from the organization was $223,203, the documents say.

The executive search firm Egon Zehunder is leading the CEO search.



— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 4, 2015 @ 4:16 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

EQCA endorses CA lesbian Assembly Speaker’s bid for state Senate

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins

Equality California, the statewide LGBT advocacy group, threw its support today behind lesbian Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins’s 2016 race for a state Senate seat.

In a statement released this morning, EQCA Executive Dierctor Rick Zbur noted Atkins’ political career has been one of several “firsts,” including her being the first lesbian to serve as speaker of the California Assembly, the first lesbian mayor of San Diego, and, while Governor Jerry Brown was on a trade mission abroad, became the first out LGBT acting governor of California.

“Toni Atkins broke barriers as the first openly lesbian assembly speaker,” stated Zbur. “Throughout her career, in all levels of government, she has never wavered in her commitment to LGBT civil rights and has served as a role model for our youth and for everyone in our community.”

He added that EQCA’s endorsement of Atkins for Senate recognizes her “unique and unparalleled advocacy and leadership in advancing LGBT civil rights and social justice throughout her career and as speaker of the California Assembly, including in areas which required great political and personal courage. She has sponsored a number of truly groundbreaking pieces of LGBT legislation, and her career and character have served as an inspirational role model for LGBT youth and people of all ages.”

Termed out of the Legislature’s lower chamber next December, Atkins shocked the Statehouse in September when she announced she would run against state Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego) next year for his Senate District 39 seat.

Speaking to reporters about her decision to run next year, Atkins claimed that Block had agreed to give up his seat after one term so she could run. Block admitted to reporters that the two lawmakers had discussed such an arrangement but insisted he never agreed to step down next year.

In explaining EQCA’s endorsement of Atkins in the race, Zbur stated that it “advances one of EQCA’s electoral priorities, to support the best and brightest stars of the LGBT community to increase opportunities for higher statewide office.”

Atkins last month officially kicked off her bid to oust Block from office next fall. As the Bay Area Reporter‘s Political Notebook reported at the time, Atkins likely has close to $1.6 million to tap into for her race against Block.

She had already raised $968,000 for her campaign in 2020 when she was expected to run for Block’s Senate seat. Based on filings with the secretary of state, she has combined that haul with the remaining funds from her past campaign accounts into her 2016 Senate campaign account.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 12:43 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Shanti, PAWS complete merger

Shanti Executive Director Kaushik Roy. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Shanti Executive Director Kaushik Roy. Photo: Rick Gerharter

The Shanti Project has completed its merger with Pets Are Wonderful Support, the nonprofit announced this week.

For years, Shanti has provided support groups and health care advocacy for people living with HIV and AIDS, and it also helps women who are living with cancer.

The nonprofit announced in August that it was combining efforts with PAWS, which helps low-income people who have disabling HIV/AIDS and other illnesses care for their pets.

The arrangement means that the new Shanti will offer access to a pet food bank, free veterinary care, and other services. Through the merger and other expansions, Shanti is also now working with seniors, people who have hepatitis C, and others.

As part of the finalized deal, the groups have combined their volunteer operations, so people can help with a wider variety of activities. Donors can choose which of the programs to support.

“The new Shanti provides a wealth of complementary services that are backed by a strong financial base – an important milestone which benefits everyone involved,” Shanti board Chair Frank Petkovich said in a December 1 news release. “We’re thrilled to be working with everyone from PAWS in order to fulfill our collective mission of providing emotional and practical support to vulnerable individuals living in San Francisco.”

The organization now has more than 50 full-time staff and a budget of over $4.3 million.

Shanti Executive Director Kaushik Roy said, “Shanti staff and volunteers have been compassionately helping neighbors in need since 1974. In fact, we’ve nearly doubled the size of the organization over the last four years. We’re excited to put our combined history of nearly 70 years of service to work for our 2,000-plus clients through new and expanded programs.”

Roy’s post-merger salary is $140,000.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 2, 2015 @ 5:24 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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