Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

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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