Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Planning commission rejects AHF Castro pharmacy permit

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

With no public comment or debate among the five members present, the city’s planning commission this afternoon rejected the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s plan to relocate its Castro pharmacy.

The 4-1 vote today (Thursday, January 28) had been expected, as a majority of the commissioners at their Thursday, January 14 meeting had signaled they were likely to disapprove AHF’s permit request.

But they had postponed their vote to do so for two weeks in order to give AHF time to answer how they would activate the space at 518 Castro Street other than as a pharmacy.

No one from AHF addressed the commission today. The Los Angeles-based agency had told the Bay Area Reporter that they have no plans, as of now, to use the storefront for anything other than a pharmacy. (It has been using the space to show works by local artists.)

Commissioner Michael Antonini was the lone vote in support of allowing AHF to proceed with moving its 18th Street pharmacy into the same building where it operates a health clinic.

But commissioners Kathrin Moore, Cindy Wu, and Rich Hillis, who all had previously voiced objections to AHF’s plans, were joined by commission chair Rodney Fong, who was not present at the prior hearing, in denying the permit request.

AHF can now appeal the commission’s decision to the Board of Supervisors – it has 30 days to do so – or it could revive a lawsuit it filed against the city regarding the zoning controls covering chain stores in the Castro that it had put on hold last year as it sought the permit to relocate the pharmacy.

So far AHF has remained mum on which route it will take. As the B.A.R.‘s Political Notebook reported today, AHF Bay Area regional manager Dale Gluth said the agency was “still working out our Plan B.”

City planning staff initially had granted the agency the permit for relocating its pharmacy in January of 2014. But they then reversed course after concluding AHF’s pharmacy was covered by the city’s formula retail rules, which require chains with 11 or more stores to seek a conditional use permit to open a new location.

AHF lost its appeal of that decision and then sued the city and Wiener, claiming city officials had unfairly targeted it when they passed emergency zoning legislation covering chain stores in the Castro.

Critics of the agency had strongly opposed its permit request, arguing there was no need for the relocation. Much of the opposition, however, stems from disagreements over AHF’s policy stances against the widespread use of PrEP and sponsorship of a November ballot measure that would require condoms to be used on all porn sets in the state.

— Matthew S. Bajko, January 28, 2016 @ 2:04 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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