Issue:  Vol. 45 / No. 13 / 26 March 2015
 

Wiener calls for hearing on Kaiser’s HIV drug pricing

Supervisor Scott Wiener (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Supervisor Scott Wiener (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener is calling for a hearing on Kaiser Permanente making people who are living with HIV pay more for their drugs, Wiener announced today (Friday, February 13).

People living with HIV/AIDS and advocates are concerned about increased costs for medications since Kaiser has begun requiring people to pay a percentage of the cost of their drugs, rather than a copay amount. Other companies are reportedly doing it, too, but Kaiser has received the most attention.

“It’s very troubling to me to hear that Kaiser is dramatically increasing what people have to pay for HIV medications,” said Wiener, who’s heard it “may not be limited to Kaiser,” and there may be a “broader trend of reclassifying HIV meds as ‘specialty drugs.’”

Either way, “it needs to end. People need to have more access to HIV medications, not less,” said Wiener.

One local company that uses Kaiser to provide health care coverage to employees is Steamworks, which runs a bathhouse in Berkeley and has an office in San Francisco. Larry Hickey, Steamworks’ chief financial officer, said recently that an employee came to him after being “hit with a $900 bill for one month’s supply” of HIV drugs.

Wiener referred to the city’s “Getting to Zero” efforts, which is aimed at ending local HIV transmissions altogether.

“The affordability of HIV medications is a core part” of the initiative, he said. Among other concerns, “people who are positive need to have access to HIV medication so they can stay healthy and so they can suppress their viral load,” since that makes people “much less likely to transmit the virus to anyone else.”

“In San Francisco, we can’t have it that the cost of HIV medication is exploding. …We can’t allow that to happen,” said Wiener.

John Nelson, a spokesman for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, recently said in an email exchange with the Bay Area Reporter that Kaiser made the change “in order to align more closely with the standard plan designs offered in California.” He said, “This means that outpatient specialty drugs will be subject to a coinsurance payment,” which is “a percentage of the total cost” paid after deductibles.

“Coinsurance amounts range from 10 percent to 40 percent of specialty drug costs, depending on a member’s plan,” said Nelson

Wiener said that he’s “a big fan of Kaiser” and called the company “a terrific organization.”

“Kaiser does so many great things around patient care and broader issues of public health, so I look forward to working with Kaiser to try to resolve this,” he said.

Officials from the company will be invited to the hearing, which will likely be heard at a supervisors’ committee “within the next month,” said Wiener. He doesn’t know yet which panel that will be.

Kaiser is one of two insurance providers for city employees. Blue Shield is the other. Wiener said he’s inquiring whether Kaiser’s specialty tier is impacting city workers.

Asked whether it would affect Kaiser’s status as a provider for the city if the company doesn’t change its policy, Wiener said, “It’s very premature to say anything about that. I’m a big fan of Kaiser, and I really want to work with them to resolve this.”

Anne Donnelly, health care policy director for the San Francisco-based Project Inform, said other large plans “have most of the HIV drugs tiered at a reasonable level.”

A concern is if that Kaiser leaves the pricing change in place, others may follow.

“What’s worrisome about Kaiser is they’re a pretty big plan,” said Donnelly. “If they’re doing this, it does seem like a race to the bottom.”

Donnelly noted Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange, has a working group looking at specialty drugs.

“We’re looking at several classes of drugs,” including those related to HIV and hepatitis C, said Donnelly. “What we’re trying to determine is if there’s something we can come to as a group that we can recommend or require in the 2016 plan offering” through Covered California.

“I am hopeful that we can come up with something that is less discriminatory than what we currently have,” she said. Donnelly and others are hoping to meet with Kaiser, but “I just don’t know how much leverage we have. … The decision was made at the national level.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 13, 2015 @ 2:19 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Lee marks 11th anniversary of same-sex marriages in SF

Almost 11 years ago, on February 15, 2004, the line of same-sex couples waiting for marriage licenses at San Francisco City Hall stretched around the block. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Almost 11 years ago, on February 15, 2004, the line of same-sex couples waiting for marriage licenses at San Francisco City Hall stretched around the block.
(Photo: Rick Gerharter)

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee today (Thursday, February 12) recognized the 11th anniversary of the day when then-Mayor Gavin Newsom directed city officials to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“San Francisco today remains as deeply committed to the fight for marriage equality today as we were 11 years ago,” when Newsom “led the charge on one of the most important civil rights issues of our generation to ensure equal protections and rights for all,” Lee said in a statement.

Same-sex marriage is now recognized in 37 states and the District of Columbia. The U.S. Supreme Court is set to decide by June whether all states should allow such marriages.

“We are hopeful and optimistic that the pursuit of happiness, liberty and equality will prevail, and that Supreme Court justices will affirm the right to marriage for all Americans,” said Lee. “Never have we been more committed, and more united, as a city and a nation, behind marriage equality in our country.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 12, 2015 @ 1:15 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Kink to offer ‘50 Skills of Grey’ classes

Photo: Kink.com

Photo: Kink.com

Taking advantage of the “50 Shades of Grey” film debuting on Valentine’s Day (Saturday, February 14), San Francisco’s Kink University is launching “50 Skills of Grey,” a four-day symposium to educate the “kink-curious” about the Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission, and Sadomasochism (BDSM) practiced in the film and the books on which it’s based, according to a news release from the university.

The classes will teach skills ranging “from basic bondage to designing one’s own ‘red room of pain,’” the school, which is a project of Kink.com porn company, said.

The hands-on sessions, which are available as a package or on an individual basis, start Thursday, February 19 with a one-hour introduction to BDSM. The symposium ends Sunday, February 22 with an “Adventure Scenes and Abduction Play” workshop. Other classes include “elevator sex, contracts, dirty talk, and coming out kinky on dates,” the university said.

Prices range from $9.95 to $29.95. The classes take place at Kink’s Armory headquarters, 1800 Mission Street.

A full class schedule is available at 50SkillsofGrey.com.

 

 

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 12:39 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Tenants of SF church’s apartment building will get to stay, new owner says

138-140 Eureka Street (Photo: Seth Hemmelgarn)

138-140 Eureka Street (Photo: Seth Hemmelgarn)

The man buying the four-unit apartment building owned by Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco for about $1.8 million said today (Wednesday, February 11) that all the tenants will get to stay.

Realtor Patrick Barber said tenants of 138-140 Eureka Street  will “absolutely” be allowed to remain. The announcement in December that the building would be sold had sparked some concern that tenants would be evicted.

Barber said the only changes he’ll make will be updates such as painting the building, which is over 100 years old, and ensuring compliance with the health and safety code. He said he wants the building to be “beautiful.”

He said he’s buying the property because “I’m a native to San Francisco,” and he thinks the city “is an incredible investment, even though some people think the market is overblown.”

With low rates giving him the ability to borrow money, the property “is the best possible investment for me and my family,” said Barber, who’s with the firm Pacific Union and is married with six children. He added, “I’m buying this for the long, long term.”

The sale will close Thursday, February 12. The building had been listed at about $1.5 million.

MCC-SF, which has been based in the Castro district and served as the spiritual home for many LGBTs for decades, put its church building at 150 Eureka Street and the adjacent apartment building on the market in January.

Last week, 150 Eureka Street, LLC was announced as the buyer of the sanctuary, which the church is selling because it’s in disrepair.

David Papale, who heads the 150 Eureka corporation, which paid $2.3 million for the crumbling building, said he plans to put luxury condos on the site.

The church recently held its last service at the property and is now sharing space with First Congregational Church of San Francisco at 1300 Polk Street.

The Reverend Robert Shively, MCC-SF’s senior pastor, has said the church decided to sell the sanctuary and the apartment building because “We feel selling them both at the same time gives us the best opportunity for the future.”

Other buildings Barber owns include 4327 18th Street, where tenants include Center Salon and Beyond. The salon is near Barber’s latest acquisition.

“My tenants love me,” he said. “I’m all about making a safe space for them to enjoy and leaving them alone so they can enjoy their homes.”

Asked via Facebook for his reaction to Barber’s pledge to let tenants at 138-140 Eureka stay, gay tenant Lawrence Chatfield said, “Well it’s obviously good.”

Barber said he won’t be raising the rent, and Chatfield, who’s lived in the building for almost six years, said, “He can’t raise rents in [the city] so that wasn’t surprising.”

 

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 11, 2015 @ 5:55 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Trans woman dead in Bayview stabbing

Taja de Jesus (Photo: Courtesy Nicole Denise Bertrand)

Taja de Jesus (Photo: Courtesy Nicole Denise Bertrand)

A woman who died after being stabbed last Sunday, February 1 in San Francisco’s Bayview district was transgender.

The medical examiner’s office has identified the woman as Taja de Jesus, 36, according to Bay City News. A medical examiner’s office couldn’t confirm the name this morning (Friday, February 6) because his computer was down.

Police responding to a stabbing found De Jesus at 9:02 a.m. Sunday in a stairway in the 1400 block of McKinnon Street, Officer Grace Gatpandan, a police spokeswoman, said in a summary.

A Bayview police station newsletter said, “officers were provided with the unit number and were informed that the suspect was still inside. On arrival, the officers located the 36-year-old victim inside the unit with multiple stab wounds. She was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics. The officers secured the crime scene, preserved all evidence, and obtained witness statements. The suspect had fled prior to the officers’ arrival, but is believed to have been identified.”

A friend confirmed to the Bay Area Reporter that de Jesus was transgender.

In an interview Friday, Gatpandan said a suspect has been identified, but there hasn’t been an arrest. She could not provide a description or other information related to the suspect, but said police might release more information “later in the week.”

Gatpandan said at least one person had come upon de Jesus after the stabbing, but they did not witness the actual incident.

The case is “not being investigated as a hate crime,” she said. She couldn’t discuss a possible motive, but said, de Jesus “wasn’t stabbed for being transgender.”

A knife was used in the incident, but Gatpandan couldn’t share more information about the weapon.

Although she couldn’t provide more information on the suspect, Gatpandan said, “He’s not a threat to public safety, so no one should be worried about a murderer running around.”

Cleaning crews' vehicles outside the apartment where Taja de Jesus was killed. (Photo: Seth Hemmelgarn)

Cleaning crews’ vehicles Friday, February 6 outside the apartment where Taja de Jesus was killed. (Photo: Seth Hemmelgarn)

[Update Friday, February 6]: Danielle Castro, a friend of de Jesus’, said that de Jesus’ mother told her that the suspect hanged himself. She didn’t know the man’s name. De Jesus’ mother couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

In response to an email, Gatpandan said it “has not been confirmed” that the suspect hanged himself, but citing unnamed police sources, SF Weekly reported Friday that he had hanged himself in the 4000 block of Third Street Monday, February 2. According to the medical examiner’s office, the man has been identified as James Hayes, 49, a “Bay Area resident with no confirmed address at this time.”

Jen Arens, a social worker at the Salvation Army near where de Jesus was killed, said de Jesus had recently had problems with her boyfriend. She couldn’t elaborate, but in a follow-up email, she said de Jesus “never indicated that her relationship was violent.” Arens didn’t recognize Hayes’ name, but said “a  lot of people go by nicknames.”

Castro said de Jesus was “very light-hearted, funny, and just a beautiful, gentle soul,” and “very religious,” but she’d also struggled with drug use and other problems.

A “die-in” is being planned for 4 p.m., Monday, February 9 at City Hall to protest violence against transgender women.

De Jesus had lived in the apartment where she was killed, friends said. Workers Friday were cleaning up bloody carpet and other materials from the unit.[End update]

Anyone with information related to the case may call 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 150097137.

The B.A.R. will have more on de Jesus in the Thursday, February 12 edition.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 6, 2015 @ 10:58 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Benefit set for trans homeless person who died in Castro

The person known in the Castro as Anastasia. Photo: Courtesy Downtown Donna

The person known in the Castro as Anastasia. Photo: Courtesy Downtown Donna

The SF Eagle bar in San Francisco’s South of Market district is hosting a beer bust for Anastasia, 50, the transgender homeless person who died December 31 outside the Peet’s Coffee shop in the Castro neighborhood.

City records shared this week with the Bay Area Reporter show several calls were made to emergency responders to help her just before she died.

The Eagle benefit is from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, February 7 at the bar, which is located at 398 12th Street.

“No family has come forward to claim her,” a flier for the event says. “She was so very loved by those in the neighborhood. Let’s all make sure that she will be laid to rest with dignity.”

In another announcement, organizers said a non-denominational memorial will be held at Sullivan’s Funeral Home, 2254 Market Street, but the date hasn’t been determined.

All proceeds from the Eagle “will pay for the various costs involved,” organizers said. “Anything raised over and above this amount will be used for a plaque in Anastasia’s honor.” The rest will be donated to the Homeless Youth Alliance.

Drinks, alcoholic and otherwise, are $15 with food. Food only is $6.

“If you’d like to just come in and donate to the cause for Anastasia’ s memorial any donation will be collected as well, and is greatly appreciated,” organizers said.

For information on other ways to contribute, send an email to donnamerlino@gmail.com.

“All humans deserve the dignity of love in their final hours and to not die alone,” the announcement said. San Francisco “is a compassionate city and we hope that with all the changes our beloved city is undergoing, that we not forget our most vulnerable inhabitants. Blessed Be.”

Anastasia who was well known in the Castro neighborhood, had refused numerous offers of shelter and other services, according to people who knew her, even though many people said she’d appeared to be in declining health before she died at the coffee shop, which is at 2257 Market Street.

The city was experiencing a severe cold snap at the time Anastasia was found. The medical examiner’s office isn’t likely to publicly release the cause and manner of her death for several months. Officials have not indicated there were any signs of foul play.

Many who knew Anastasia use feminine pronouns when referring to her and have indicated she was likely transgender, although it’s not clear if that’s how she self-identified.

Records show final hours

City computer-aided dispatch records recently provided to the B.A.R. in response to a public records request appear to confirm a report on the Hoodline news site that several calls had been made to get help for Anastasia the morning she was found dead.

The first 911 call, at 5:46 a.m., was related to a man on the bench in front of Peet’s who appeared to be “completely awake” and alert.

“He was heard talking,” and “he is sitting now,” but “it’s not known if he is moving at all,” the records say.

The documents indicate that the fire department arrived at the scene at 6:03, and the report was closed at 6:24. As with much of the information provided to the B.A.R., it isn’t immediately apparent what exactly happened when responders got to Peet’s.

At 6:28, the records show, someone called police with what’s described as a “homeless complaint.”

The report involved a 45-year-old white male adult in front of Peet’s who was covered in a gray blanket.

The subject was “shivering outside” and the caller was “concerned” and wanted police “to come out and see if they can get him to HOT team,” the records say, referring to the city’s Homeless Outreach Team.

Police were at the scene at 6:37, and at 6:48, the subject was referred to a shelter and the report was closed. The records don’t give any clear indication of what the subject’s response was to any of the responders.

The next call to police came at 7:07. In the incident, which was classified as “trespasser,” the person, who was in their 50s, was reported laying on the bench under a dark blanket. Police were at the location at 7:13, and the incident was closed at 7:23.

Another 911 call came at 10:04. The caller indicated that the subject was gasping for breath, and that a defibrillator wasn’t available.

At the same time, the records say, the subject had no pulse and wasn’t breathing, and was likely dead.

The call was given the highest priority, and lights and sirens were used in responding to the scene, according to Francis Zamora, a spokesman for the Department of Emergency Management Services, who helped the Bay Area Reporter decipher the codes and acronyms displayed in the documents.

Police were on the scene at 10:08.

“Police must secure the scene when there is a death,” Zamora said in an email.

It’s not immediately clear from the records when Anastasia was declared dead, but Mindy Talmadge, a spokeswoman for the fire department, has said in an email in January, “An engine, ambulance, and rescue captain were dispatched at 10:01 to the location. … The reporting party said that it looked as though a homeless person had passed out.”

Talmadge added, “Upon arrival it was determined that the individual was deceased. There was no indication that there was any trauma involved.”

The computer-aided dispatch files indicate a “hose down” was requested at 10:58 since the “person was covered in lice and scabies.”

The report was closed at 12:11 p.m.

The B.A.R. could not confirm that each record was related to Anastasia, since the records were redacted to protect personal information. However, the details appear to match Anastasia’s physical description and her location that morning.

Several people have described seeing Anastasia in the hours just before she died, beginning the night of Tuesday, December 30.

In a January interview, Barry Lawlor, 51, one of the last people to see Anastasia alive, said he put a blanket that he’d brought over her at about 8:30 p.m. that night as she lay on the bench in front of Peet’s.

“She was freezing,” said Lawlor, who had frequently seen her around the neighborhood. “She was totally cold, and a little out of it.”

However, he said, when he asked her if she was warm enough, she said, “Yes.” He added, “She seemed like she could mange. … She didn’t seem like she was on death’s doorstep.”

Bevan Dufty, who serves as director of Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement (HOPE) for Mayor Ed Lee, has been working to re-launch the city’s homeless death review committee, which would include officials from the medical examiner’s office, the health department, and other agencies

One of the aims of the panel would be to examine the deaths of people like Anastasia, to see what contacts they’d had with service providers, and what may have been done to prevent the loss.

“I believe her tragic death can be a rallying point to make sure we don’t leave people behind,” Dufty, who recalled seeing Anastasia around the neighborhood, said in January.

Sam Dodge, HOPE’s deputy director, said in an email Tuesday, February 3 that the Dr. Barry Zevin, the Homeless Outreach Team’s medical director, is working on a memorandum of understanding with the agencies involved, “but the whole process is agreed to and should start soon.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 5, 2015 @ 6:21 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Luxury condos to replace Castro church

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Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco, 150 Eureka Street (Photo: MCC-SF)

The Castro district building that’s housed San Francisco’s Metropolitan Community Church for decades will be replaced by two luxury residential buildings, according to one of the people who just paid about $2.3 million for the crumbling church at 150 Eureka Street. There will be a total of four condo units.

David Papale is the agent heading 150 Eureka Street LLC, which closed the sale Wednesday, February 4.

Last Sunday, February 1, the church held its last service at the site before moving to the space it will share with First Congregational Church of San Francisco at 1300 Polk Street. MCC-SF has attributed its move to the high cost of what it would take to repair the Eureka Street building, which is more than 100 years old. The congregation voted unanimously to sell the church.

“As you know, the Metropolitan Church is moving out because the building is not safe for occupancy,” said Papale, who’s with San Francisco’s Laurel Village Realtors. “We’re going to talk to the city planning department about building condominiums there.” He said his corporation wants to subdivide the property into two lots, with two condominiums on each lot.

He didn’t know when demolition would start on the current building.

“It’s all very premature,” Papale said. “It’s going to take some time to go through the city departments, so I can’t really say.” However, he added, the new architecture “will be consistent with the neighboring properties.”

The price range on the new residences is also unknown.

“I can’t say that until I know what the city will allow us to put there, but I can say they will be luxury condominiums,” Papale said.

He said the neighborhood is appealing to him because “it’s all residential.” It’s also in “close proximity to the commercial shopping district, but it’s got the old world flavor of Eureka Valley,” he said, referring to the neighborhood that’s considered part of the larger Castro district.

Many people have become worried about the lack of affordable housing in the Castro and other neighborhoods, but Papale didn’t express any concern about the potential for opposition to his project.

“All I can tell you is that the city is looking for housing,” he said. “There’s a need for more housing, so I don’t know how to respond to someone who doesn’t want housing there. … This is a small infill project. It’s not a 50-unit high rise development.”

There’s no timeline for the project yet.

“I’m months and months and months away from even getting anything on a plan,” Papale said.

He plans to talk to people in the community about the project.

“I will be reaching out to the neighborhood communities when I’m ready to have something to discuss with them. Right now, I don’t,” Papale said.

He’ll be talking to neighbors and groups like the Castro/Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association.

“They will have an opportunity to review what our plans are once we have something to present,” he said.

Papale said he has two partners in the 150 Eureka corporation, but “I’d prefer not to list their names.”

Gary Gee will be the architect.

The church building went on sale in early January with a price listed at $2 million.

Realtor Katharine Holland, who’s handling the sales, said in an email Wednesday, that Papale’s corporation “is a successful residential development team that specializes in small residential projects. They are proud of their work blending new buildings into existing neighborhoods. An example is at 251 32nd Avenue in the Seacliff neighborhood in San Francisco. They are well-known in San Francisco for quality projects.”

MCC-SF is also selling the occupied four-unit apartment building at 138-140 Eureka Street, which is adjacent to the church.

Holland that there were 10 offers on the residential property, which was listed at $1.5 million, and it will close escrow Wednesday, February 11.

“The owner is not a developer and has promised to leave all tenants in place,” she said. She hasn’t disclosed who the new owner is.

In an email blast Wednesday, MCC-SF said its first services at Polk Street will be Sunday, February 8, at noon (traditional service), and 6 p.m. (high-energy gospel service).

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 12:01 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Alleged fake cop convicted on most counts in sex case

Jeffrey Bugai Photo: SFPD

Jeffrey Bugai Photo: SFPD

A San Francisco jury today (Wednesday, February 4) convicted a man accused of being a fake cop of most of the dozens of counts against him, including unlawful sodomy, unlawful oral copulation, and oral copulation by use of an intoxicating substance.

Jurors also agreed that Jeffrey Bugai, 36, of San Francisco, had attempted to orally copulate one victim “by threat of the use of official authority,” but found him not guilty of impersonating a public officer in at least one other count.

Bugai showed no obvious emotion as the verdicts were read in superior court before retired Judge Jerome Benson.

Outside the courtroom, one juror said the testimony of most of the victims, which Bugai contradicted in his own testimony, had been strong enough for convictions.

“For all the guilty verdicts,” the witnesses had been “very credible,” said juror Jake Sadie, 26. The “inconsistencies” in their stories were “very minor in the grand scheme of things,” he said.

However, jurors acquitted Bugai on several counts related to another victim. Deputy Public Defender Phoenix Streets claimed during the trial that that alleged victim, referred to as Franklin, had exchanged text messages with Bugai over a period of months. In some of the messages, Bugai referred to Franklin’s “big dick,” and Streets said Franklin texted Bugai with requests for money.

The jury hung on a charge that Bugai had kidnapped one of his victims.

had worked as a private patrol officer at El Trebol bar in the Mission, was accused of bringing men to his home. Some of the men testified that they felt weak and unable to defend themselves after Bugai gave them alcohol and that he gave them head and performed other sexual acts against their will. The incidents started in November 2008. Bugai has been in custody since his arrest in July 2014.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on the trial and jurors’ comments on the evidence in the Thursday, February 12 edition.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 4, 2015 @ 5:45 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


CA senator proposes lesbian astronaut for first LGBT statue in US Capitol

19_12_Ride_Obit_30_LRG

Astronaut Sally Ride

Gay California State Senator Ricardo Lara today (Wednesday, February 4) introduced a resolution that would require the US Congress to posthumously honor lesbian astronaut Sally Ride with a Statuary Hall in the US Capitol building.

The statue would make Ride, who died from pancreatic cancer in July 2012 at the age of 61, the first known member of the LGBT community to be recognized at the hall and the first woman to represent the state.

Ride, who had a Ph.D. in physics, was a lesbian, though that was not publicly known until her passing

In a statement announcing his Senate Joint Resolution 4, Lara (D-Bell Gardens) said, “Dr. Sally Ride is a California native, American hero and stratospheric trailblazer who devoted her life to pushing the limits of space and inspiring young girls to succeed in math and science careers. She is the embodiment of the American dream whose accomplishments and life work will encourage future generations to reach for the stars and celebrate diversity and  inclusivity.”

Out lesbian Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) is the resolution’s principal co-author.

Ride made history in June 1983 “when she became the first American female astronaut and youngest person” to travel into space, Lara’s office noted of her trip on the space shuttle Challenger.

After Ride left NASA in 1987, she focused on science education and “teaching you people, especially girls, that there are no limits to what they can achieve,” Lara’s news release said.

“Sally would be very honored to represent her home state of California in the National Statuary Hall Collection,” stated Tam O’Shaughnessy, Ride’s partner. “She believed that diverse role models are important in all areas, but especially in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), to inspire young girls and boys and to give them a sense of belonging in STEM. Having a statue of Sally on display in our nation’s capital would send a wonderful message of inspiration and equality to the world.”

Any state can request to have a replacement of a statue it’s provided if the Legislature and governor approve of the move and if the statue to be replaced has been on display in the Capitol for at least 10 years.

Lara’s resolution aims to move the statute of Father Junipero Serra, who founded numerous California ministries, “at a location in California where citizens and visitors can enjoy it and be reminded of his significant historical impact upon our state.”

The other Californian represented at Statuary Hall is former President Ronald Reagan, who died in 2004.

The California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls will select a panel to represent the state in choosing the sculptor or sculptors and obtain the money needed “to carry out the resolution,” according to Lara’s office.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 2:28 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Fix for Upper Market Street zoning flub passes SF supervisors panel

01daf736cdaa00c09d3ae802a75dba28Over the last several weeks H&R Block has been setting up an office in a ground floor retail space in the new Linea mixed-use development fronting Market Street near the federal U.S. Mint building.

The branch of the national chain of tax-filing preparers has done so without going before the Planning Commission to seek a conditional use permit.

It turns out the space H&R Block moved into is not covered by interim zoning rules city officials enacted for the upper Market Street corridor meant to bring stronger public scrutiny of such office-type uses taking over retail spaces fronting the busy commercial corridor running through San Francisco’s gay Castro district.

Since gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents the area at City Hall, first introduced the temporary zoning rule in the summer of 2013, he and his staff have repeatedly told the Bay Area Reporter that it covered Market Street between Castro Street and Octavia Boulevard.

Last month, when the Board of Supervisors voted to extend the interim zoning along Market Street for another six months – it had been set to expire in January – Wiener’s office again had said the rules would cover the entire stretch of the upper Market corridor where a number of new mixed-used developments with housing over stores have opened over the last year.

Yet it turns out the interim rules were written in such a way that the zoning control only covers Market Street between Castro and 14th Streets. Thus, the 1900 block of Market Street where Linea is located does not fall within those boundaries.

Now Wiener is pushing to fix the problem with additional interim zoning rules that will apply to Market Street between 14th Street and Octavia Boulevard. The supervisor’s land use committee, on which Wiener sits, unanimously voted today (Monday, February 2) to recommend that the full board adopt the measure.

Should it be adopted as expected, the interim zoning would be in place for 18 months as city officials work to codify the rule.

Wiener has introduced legislation to make the zoning rule permanent not only along the upper Market Street retail corridor but also on the 400 and 500 blocks of Castro Street, as well as on a segment of 24th Street in Noe Valley. That measure will be taken up by the Board of Supervisors later this year after the city’s Planning Commission reviews it.

— Matthew S. Bajko, February 2, 2015 @ 3:16 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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