Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

SF preservation panel approves LGBT historic document

San Francisco’s Historic Preservation Commission today (Wednesday, November 18) unanimously approved an LGBT historic document that’s meant to help hold on to  gay spaces in the city.

Officially titled the “Citywide Historic Context Statement for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer History in San Francisco,” the survey spans the centuries and features groups from Native American two-spirit tribe members and gender nonconforming Chinese immigrants to various artists and service members.

Once adopted as an official city document, the historic context statement will assist with efforts to landmark, either by the city or national programs, properties of historical significance to the LGBT community.

Members of the city panel had high praise today for the work of authors Donna Graves, a public historian based in Berkeley who is straight, and Shayne Watson, an architectural historian based in San Francisco who is lesbian.

“This was really brilliant,” Commissioner Jonathan Pearlman told the women, who made presentations about the work that went into the project and highlights of what they found. “I was so thrilled to read through this document. It is so rich” and reads like “a novel.” He said the report should be seen as “the gold standard.”

Commissioner Richard S.E. Johns said it was “really a magnificent effort.”

During public comment, Randy Burns of the group Gay American Indians asked for the vote on the statement to be postponed for three months to allow for more input from communities of color. Despite repeated warnings about the time limit, he went over his time, and his microphone was cut off. Watson approached him immediately after he spoke.

Commissioner Aaron Hyland said there had been “robust public outreach” and “plenty of opportunity to participate in this process,” but encouraged Graves and Watson to think about working in more information about communities of color.

After the commission’s vote, Watson said she was “thrilled” to have the panel’s support. “I couldn’t be more excited.”

The statement will see some more editing and should go before the preservation panel’s Cultural Heritage Assets Committee next year.

Today’s vote was 6-0. Commission President Andrew Wolfram was absent.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, November 18, 2015 @ 6:12 pm PST
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