MARCH 2016 ISSUE

 

Are Gay Bars a Thing of the Past?The city’s oldest gay bar, the Gangway, is closing this month. Eight other LGBT bars in the city have closed over the past decade, many replaced by upscale clubs. Photo: Bill Sywak

 

LGBT dives
being replaced
by swanky clubs

 

 

With San Francisco’s oldest gay bar, the Gangway, closing its doors this month, Castro residents are worried about the rapid changes happening across the city. There are currently 35 gay bars and clubs open in San Francisco according to GayCities.com. There are also 12 other bars and clubs that host LGBT events or are very gay friendly, but are not exclusively gay.

 

The Gangway is just one of eight other gay bars that have closed their doors in the past decade. Just last year, the only lesbian bar in San Francisco, the Lexington Club, closed in the Mission. In 2014, Esta Noche, the Mission gay bar which catered to the Latino queer community, also shut down. Before that in 2013, the city lost Marlena’s, another iconic drag bar in Hayes Valley. In 2012, patrons said goodbye to gay dive Deco on Larkin Street and in 2011, SF bid farewell to the popular corner bar the Transfer on Church and Market. And the list goes on.

 

Most of these gay establishments were shut down to make way for swanky cocktail bars like Brass Tacks, Churchill and Driftwood. Lexington Club owner Lila Thirkield announced via Facebook that she decided to sell the Lexington after her rent had been tripled to market rate. At the same time, the demographics and economics of the neighborhood continued to change, which also brought her sales down. Although San Francisco remains the gayest city in America with 6.2 percent of the population identifying as LGBTQ, newer residents moving to the city are less likely to identify as LGBT, according to the recent Castro and Upper Market Retail Strategy survey.

 

San Francisco was once a city that had gay bars tucked away in neighborhoods all over town, from the Financial District to Pacific Heights. Before the Castro became the gay mecca of San Francisco, the gay scene in the 1960s and 70s was actually centered in the Tenderloin. A march down Polk Street in 1970 turned into the first San Francisco Pride parade and celebration. In the years to come, the Castro took over as the predominantly gay neighborhood in the city. Today most of the gay bars are in the Castro and SOMA districts.

 

“I moved into the Castro almost 20 years ago and have been going out in the Castro and South of Market ever since,” District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener said. “While the Castro gay bar scene is different than it was 20 years ago, in some ways it’s better. There are still many gay bars in San Francisco, and there are a number of very interesting ones.”

 

Losing the Gangway is a big deal for the LGBT community due to its long history, dating back over a century. The nautical-themed dive bar first opened its doors in 1910 and was the site of a same-sex raid in 1911. During Prohibition, its name changed to the Larkin Street Grill and had a speakeasy in the basement. The Gangway has been a gay bar since at least 1961. According to the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control, a liquor license was filed on January 6, by Breaking Chad, Inc. to reopen the bar as Daddy Bones. Whether or not the establishment will remain gay is uncertain.

 

But Jocelyn Kane, executive director of the San Francisco Entertainment Commission, doesn’t think it matters if an establishment is gay or not to determine why it closes. She thinks that the bars are closing because no one is going to them.

 

“When was the last time you went to the Gangway?” Kane asked. “No one wants to go there because it is not kept up and it smells!”

 

Kane’s philosophy is this: if you run a good business, you’ll stay in business.

 

“All those lamenting the decline of this establishment or that should be asking themselves why they haven’t been patronizing these places more and contributing to their business success,” one resident commented on SFist.com. “Nobody closes a cash cow.”

 

In order for any business to flourish, there has to be a demand for any specialty venue.

 

“I’d like to attribute the decline of gay culture in SF to gay going mainstream,” another resident who goes by Xderloin stated. “I no longer feel the close ties to a specific location or business based on my sexuality. I think that at least here, as in many other places, it is representative of the changes and societal advancements that the gay community has fought for over the years.”

 

Some people may interpret this idea to mean that since gay marriage is now legal, there is no longer a need for gay bars. According to Justin Peligiri’s article in the Washington Blade, the idea behind this way of thinking is simple to understand.

 

“Queer people are everywhere. So there’s no longer any point in exclusively queer social realms, right?” Peligri asks. “Wrong. To me, the fact that gay people have become so ubiquitous provides all the more incentive for owners of gay establishments to do everything in their power to keep their doors wide open. Their presence in neighborhoods around the country is the best way for our community to hold dear our history and preserve uniquely queer safe spaces for another generation.”

 

As the current trend of gay bars in San Francisco continues on a downward spiral, we can only hope that they won’t become a thing of the past. The community urges you to frequent your favorite LGBT friendly watering hole often to help keep diversity alive.

 

See also:

Last Call for the Lexington Club

 

 

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

 

The Passing of a Mortuary

Longtime Establishment Closes
After Decades

Anna Damiani, aide to State Sen. Mark Leno, presents a proclamation from Leno to the Sullivan brothers, Art (left) and Jim (right). The brothers’ longtime mortuary is closing at the end of March.

 

 

 

After nearly a century in business and three generations of family ownership, the Castro’s only funeral home has run its course.

 

At the regular monthly meeting of the Castro Merchants on Thursday, March 3, there was a special dual presentation to Arthur J. Sullivan III and his brother James J. Sullivan, on the occasion of the planned closing this month of Arthur J. Sullivan & Co. Funeral Directors at 2254 Market Street after 90 continuous years of service (since 1924). Art and Jim have been third generation principals in the family business for over 35 years and key members of the Castro community.

 

Certificates of recognition were presented to the brothers by Adam Taylor, legislative aide to Supervisor Scott Wiener on behalf of Supervisor Wiener and the full Board of Supervisors, and March 3rd was declared “Art and Jim Sullivan Day in San Francisco.” In addition, Anna Damiani, legislative aide to State Senator Mark Leno, presented certificates of recognition to the Sullivans on behalf of Senator Leno and the California State Senate.

 

Given the property value and the possibility of moving towards retirement, the Sullivan family sold the business to Duggans-Serra Mortuary in Daly City in 2007. Jim Sullivan in particular plans to keep in touch with the new owners and help out on a part-time basis after closing the Market Street building by the end of March.

 

For those of us involved in the first months of the Castro Courier in 2007, it is an especially poignant occasion as Sullivan was one of our first regular sponsors and their advertisement has appeared in every edition of the paper since.

 

The Prado Group

 

The Prado Group, a San Francisco-based real estate development and investment company, pursued the Sullivan site for a number of years, having worked with the Castro and Upper Market community since the early days of the Market Octavia Plan. Their objective with 2254 Market St. was “to provide a transit-oriented, mixed-use environment with much needed housing and retail uses to compliment a vibrant, transit rich, walkable neighborhood.”

 

The project includes three buildings: the Market Street building ranging from 2 to 5 stories; a new three-story townhome on 15th Street; and an existing residential building on 15th Street that is being retained. The new units will include 12 studios, 10 1-bedroom units, and 20-2 bedroom units, 2 3-bedroom units and 1 4-bedroom unit. No decision has been made at the present time about the number of condos and the number of rentals.

 

The decision to retain the existing building facing Market Street was aided by the influence of Jay Turnbull, who helped establish the Upper Market Commercial Historic District.

 

The Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association

 

According to the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association (DTNA), following a “concerning series of presentations by developers” at the December 7 Land Use Committee meeting, DTNA sent a letter to San Francisco Planning Director John Rahaim, “asking for a pause [in development] for consideration of some serious issues” with three proposed developments in Upper Market. Included was a 45-unit building proposed by Prado Group for 2254 Market St., namely the site of the Sullivan Funeral Home and the adjacent parking lot on Market Street.

 

Over the recent past years DTNA has been actively engaged in a “huge wave” of development approvals. For the most part all of these projects ultimately responded to community issues that DTNA advocated. In the case of this new round of developments, however, DTNA was concerned that this would not happen this time.

 

In developing the property at 2254 Market St., the neighborhood association’s three major areas of concern were design, affordability and retail. DTNA saw design as “not a problem caused by the developers or by their architects [but] a problem that rests with Planning’s design review.”

 

According to DTNA, the planners on the three projects had not reached out to DTNA or attended Land Use meetings to ask for design input. Overall communication from case planners was deemed poor, leading DTNA to conclude the process of design review was “completely disconnected from any ground-level community feedback and needs a new look.”

 

On the issue of affordability, DTNA’s view is that the Upper Market, Castro and the Haight have experienced “a crisis of affordability over the last three years” and that one of the tools to maintain income diversity is affordable housing in market-rate development projects. Despite a 20 percent onsite affordable unit expectation to developers, DTNA stated that all three presented projects met only the required city minimum of 12 percent.

 

On the issue of retail, DTNA has long been concerned about the proliferation of formula retail in the neighborhood, but has been willing to accept some level of formula use as long as it is balanced with local, neighborhood-serving businesses. In 2013 a Formula Retail Concentration Methodology for the Upper Market was developed with the Planning Department, and in 2014 citywide formula-retail legislation passed the Board of Supervisors.

 

Despite that, according to DTNA, all developers were proposing retail spaces above 2500 square feet, a size that makes the implementation of the Concentration Methodology more difficult.

 

In a request to Planning Director Rahaim to meet with the DTNA Land Use Committee at their February 1 meeting, the minutes conclude that “unfortunately he has not been willing to pause the development process” and continued by scheduling a hearing with the Planning Commission on the Sullivan lot for February 11. The commission voted to approve the development at 2254 Market as scheduled. At the present time upcoming interactions between Prado and the community will be tied to outreach related to construction activities.

 

The final sentiments from Prado Group echo the relationship that others have enjoyed with the Sullivan family: Please know that the Sullivan family, and Jim Sullivan in particular, could not have been more gracious to work with. Jim is a true gentleman, extremely kind, and we greatly value the relationship we have developed with him and his family. We wish him and his family all of the best.

 

Photo: Bill Sywak

 

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

 

2100 Market Street proposed development is one of the projects in questionDuboce Neighbors Oppose Three Housing Projects

 

 

Three new developments on Upper Market Street, including one at the long-vacant site of Home Restaurant, are close to moving from planning to construction.

 

The three, highly visible developments, although proposed by different agencies, all present different sides of similar problems. Due to this, the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association (DTNA) requested a pause on construction back in September. As of February 4, the projects have been approved and all three are moving forward.

 

The DTNA had previously supported other recent developments in the area (2175 Market St. and 2198 Market St.). Taking into account the transit viability of the neighborhood — not to mention the abundance of open lots waiting for a new build — the association looked boldly forward with this kind of dense development, so long as the neighborhood’s integrity remained intact.

 

But the disconnect between the DTNA and the Planning Commission seems to have arisen over differing requirements and policies. While the DTNA has worked in conjunction with a number of other neivghborhood associations (Hayes Valley, Eureka Valley, North of the Panhandle, and Lower Haight) to create their own guidelines and requirements, the Planning Commission is making decisions based on a document called the Market & Octavia Neighborhood Plan.

 

The neighborhood’s integrity has been considered across three elements of the developments’ facets: design, affordability and retail.

 

While elements of a good neighborhood include aesthetics, variety of housing choices, and special character, the association feared that many of the planned designs were closer to some sort of cyber-Brutalism rather than the charming and quaint Victorian style of most of the rest of the surrounding buildings (with the exception, of course, of recent developments).

 

With the new go-ahead, the Planning Department staff is working with the project sponsor to change the designs, including an improved facade and other elements of a redesign.

 

Perhaps most concerning is the hot-button topic of affordability in the new developments. Whereas the combined Neighborhood Associations agreed upon a minimum of 20 percent affordable housing in new developments — still considered a paltry number by some — the developers are moving forward with plans at the city minimum of 12 percent.

 

According to SF Planning Commission’s Communications Manager, Gina Simi, the developers are not required to fulfill this request from the Neighborhood Associations and the Commission cannot mandate for 20 percent outside of the city minimum.

 

In a city in which the future of market-rate housing depends on the future of resident influx, some worry that building at this rate may return to haunt the neighborhood in years of less plenty still to come.

 

Finally, the Market-Octavia Plan posits walking to shops as a key element of a great neighborhood. Accordingly, the three developments are planned with built-in retail spaces on their ground floors.

 

The DTNA, as well as the Planning Commission’s own policies, concern themselves with an excess of formula retail stores (i.e. chain stores) to maintain neighborhood character. The Planning Department agreed in 2013 that they would recommend against formula retail approval.

 

However, these new developments utilize their retail space in a way that could encourage only formula retail with sizes and leases unrealistic to small and local businesses. With retail spaces all greater than 2,500 square feet, small businesses would struggle in units that large.

 

In response to the Neighborhood Association’s feedback, the retail space will be broken up into smaller units appropriate for small businesses.

 

While some of the desires of the community have been placated, others still remain at odds with the current plans.

 

In a neighborhood that has seen its fair share of growth, it’s important that the desires of the community are spoken for. Those interested to share their opinion can contact the DTNA at dtna.org or go to SF Planning Commission Meetings, Thursdays at noon at City Hall.

 

 

 

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

 

Bowie Tribute Rocks Castro Theatre

 

 

A David Bowie Tribute will be held March 12 at the Castro Theatre.

 

 

 

On January 10, 2016, when David Bowie died, unexpectedly to most, the world went into a collective shock unlike anything we’d seen since John Lennon left this realm in December of 1980. Tributes to the man have been popping up around the world ever since his passing. Marc Huestis, who last produced an event at the Castro Theatre a little over a year ago, has emerged from semi-retirement to bring his contribution to the remembrance and adulation of David Bowie. On Saturday, March 12th, Marc Huestis Presents and the Castro Theatre will host A Tribute To David Bowie with a screening of The Man Who Fell To Earth. Candy Clark, who co-starred in the film, will appear in conversation with Tony Bravo, of the San Francisco Chronicle.

 

Wendy: David Bowie meant so much to so many people on a lot of different levels. What personally drew you to the idea of creating a tribute to him?

 

Marc: It’s interesting because I was never a huge fan of his, but I always liked him and he always was the soundtrack of my life. On facebook I’m friends with Candy Clark and I see her posts all the time. She always would post about her tomatoes and her garden stuff, and I always loved that because I was a community gardener. As you know I have been out of circulation for a while, but trying to figure out ways of keeping my pulse on stuff. When the album dropped I thought [to] ask Candy to do something at a small theatre, like the Alamo Drafthouse or something like that. The album dropped on a Friday, and [I thought] maybe on Monday or Tuesday I’ll contact her, and then he died. When I first saw the news on Facebook I was absolutely in shock and it actually did effect me way more than I thought it would. I got up the nerve to write her a very sweet and respectful letter asking if she would want to do this. She immediately said yes and so I was was thrilled about that. And then, just doing all the research, I’ve really come to be a huge fan. I love, love, love, love, loved the “Lazarus” video. I thought it was a really brave piece of work and amazing how he planned out his grand exit, and that he was able to be that vulnerable and show people what it actually looked like, someone who was ill and who was dying. That really was something that hit me very deep. Talking to Candy about it, she was really upset about how ill he looked. Seeing the reaction of people on facebook, just the tributes that were pouring in, I felt like through osmosis I was feeling the waves of energy coming from all different types of people.

 

I had a little bit of reticence at the beginning of doing it. I got this together so [quickly] it’s not even funny. I announced it on facebook and most of the reaction was really, really kind but I did get a couple of really snarky negative responses like, “Can’t you give even us a day to breathe? Are you still pushing your product?” I woke up the Wednesday of that week and I’m like, “I can’t do this. I just cannot do it. I can’t deal with this criticism; I can’t deal with this energy.” Just as I was ready to give up the ghost, magically and cosmically Candy Clark called me and gave me a half hour pep talk about how it needed to happen and how important it was for her and how important it was for the David Bowie fans. So, I announced it right away and immediately people responded, bought tickets and stuff. Long story short I’m really glad I’m doing it. I’m enjoying it immensely. One of the things that I really want to do, particularly [after] seeing that [Lady] Gaga tribute on [the] Grammys, which I thought was ********. I’m not a hater of hers; I feel neutral; I think she has a great voice but she doesn’t really thrill me. I want some sort of emotional center to this event, and to really make people feel something. One of the performers is gonna sing “Lazarus” and we’re gonna do a whole ritual around that. It will be a celebration and also a meditation on his life.

 

Wendy: David Bowie really expanded ideas of what’s beautiful in terms of looks and style and gender and the arts. He made more space for people who were outsiders within popular culture.

 

Marc: Interestingly enough, when he was doing that I was involved with The Angels of Light here and we were kind of doing it. You know how sometimes people are jealous, like when Madonna did the “Vogue” thing and everybody criticized her for appropriating black culture, we were like, “Oh, we’ve been doing this way before he was doing it.” It was a little bit of that kind of tension with Bowie but he did mainstream it. Looking back on it, I’m doing a lot of clip reels and stuff, and I didn’t realize he went back as far as 1969. I didn’t have any consciousness around him at that time. He was at it for a very long time.

 

Wendy: He started his musical career in the mid-sixties I believe.

 

Marc: Right. I have a very cute clip of him as David Jones. He started [The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long Haired Men]. I cut it a little bit more succinctly, but he was on with all these kids with long hair and they were talking about the oppression on guys with long hair and how they were being called ‘Darling’. It’s just the most adorable thing that you could ever see.

 

Wendy: Let’s talk about what you have happening that night. You were talking about your famous clip reels....

 

Marc: Which I’m really enjoying. There’ll be 35 minutes of clips. I did a thing called “Duets,” in which it’s all duets that he does with Cher, and Marianne Faithfull, Lou Reed, Tina Turner. We’re gonna have a sing-a-long to “Starman”; we’re gonna have a dance-a-long - “Let’s Dance.” One of the clips is a rare clip from the Saturday Night Live when he was with my friend Joey Arias, who I had at The Castro, and also Klaus Nomi. There’s a lot of great little chestnuts. Yesterday I cut “Space Oddity,” four versions of that and I intertwined them all together, which was fun. Then the performances are gonna happen. Veronica Klaus [is] gonna sing “Wild is the Wind,” which is one of my favorite. least performed of his songs. She actually did that song when I had her in another show of mine. I have this a cappella group called Conspiracy of Venus; they do “Life on Mars” a cappella in four part harmony which is fabulous. Kitten on the Keys is gonna sing “Lazarus” and we’re gonna do a whole little ritual around that. I’m having fashion show with Juanita More, who is a drag icon, of course to the song “Fashion,” and a group of 30 dancers doing “Let’s Dance” to open the show.

 

Wendy: Right. D’Arcy Drollinger’s Sexitude Dancers. I understand that Mr. David is working with Juanita More on the “Fashion” segment.

 

Marc: That’s correct. Mr. David is a pretty well known local designer and Juanita is a drag diva. I’m not gonna be onstage for this one. Tony Bravo from the San Francisco Chronicle, who is quite smart and is really doing a lot of assignments for them now, is gonna do the interview [with Candy Clark]. Before the interview I’m gonna show a 10 minute clip reel of David Bowie in the films as a film actor and it will end with a clip from The Man Who Fell To Earth. Then Candy will come on and she’ll do a 30 to 45 minute interview, and then we’ll have the intermission and show the film.

Wendy: That’s wonderful. The Man Who Fell To Earth is a pretty heavy film.

 

Marc: Yeah, and it’s the most iconic of his films. It was his first and obviously it meant a lot to him because there’s that Off-Broadway show now, Lazarus, that actually has the characters from the film. That is obviously something that he felt a lot of connection towards, even at the end.

 

Wendy: At the finish of your tribute at the Castro there’s an after party at another venue.

 

Marc: Yeah. That’s not mine but I’m thrilled that it’s happening at the Oasis. When this happened I connected with Heklina right away, who is the club entrepreneur at Oasis, and asked her when she was doing her thing. Cosmically it all came together. She had taken that date first and luckily it was available at the Castro, ‘cause getting a date at the Castro is not easy. It was good for me because I wanted some time passage. My event is gonna be more unplugged and her event is gonna be more rock ‘em sock ‘em, all out rock and roll type thing. There’s room for both of them and they’re both equally important in tributing David Bowie.

 

Photo courtesy of Marc Huestis

 

 

 

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

 

Mural Captures Marriage Proposal

The new mural in the Castro at 18th and Noe streets was finished just before Valentine’s Day

 

The dramatic new mural at 18th and Noe Street captures the sentiment of romantic love, and the time when Camiel asked George, “Will you marry me?!” George hesitated a moment and then gave him a resounding “Yes!” It was Valentine’s Day.

 

Camiel asked Deb, a friend and internationally known muralist, to paint a mural that captured his feelings. They asked the owner of owner of the Indian eatery, Kasa, Anamika Khanna, if they could use the large purple wall on the Noe side. She was supportive from the beginning. Deb began painting right away and she finished the mural in four days.

 

Camiel, who lives in the Castro, wanted to surprise George, who is moving from out of town to the Castro. Friends drove him to the mural and he was overwhelmed with his feelings for Camiel. In the mural, George is on the left and Camiel is on the right.

 

“Love of all sorts is being celebrated in the mural, including lesbian, gay, and interracial and transgender love,” Camiel said. “Having the right to marry is commemorated and preserved as a historical marker for the community here. That is really important.”

 

“I love it,” Anamika said passing by. A few people gathered at the curb chatting about the mural as Deb was painting on a ladder. A photographer who lives across the street documented her work in progress. Deb painted fast. She finished by painting black lines around most of the images so they also looked like a variety of different abstract shapes.

 

After the heads, the mural scene continues with images of two lesbians and two men kissing, two affectionate peacocks and two lovers.

 

Deb added, “The mural has an important message about race and same-sex marriage. I hope that someday there won’t be prejudices. Love is love, that’s the message. Love conquers everything and anyone can be in love.”

 

 

Photo: Sally Swope

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

 

Few Vacanies Exist in Area Homeless Shelters

 

On March 1, city workers cleared a makeshift tent camp located between 11th Street and South Van Ness Avenue. The area was declared a health hazard due to unsanitary conditions.

 

The removal was the culmination of a citywide debate about the availability of shelters for the city’s homeless population. The subject received worldwide attention recently when last month’s Super Bowl drew major tourists to the city.

 

According to a 2015 report conducted by the city, 6886 homeless people live in San Francisco, 3,505 who were “unsheltered” and forced to find shelter in parks, abandoned buildings, or on the street.

 

There was only an availability of 1,500 beds, and according to sf11.org, 711 people on currently the waitlist, which is updated daily.

 

Over a year ago, the process to obtain a shelter bed became more centralized. Long-term 90-day reservations can only be made by calling 311 only. Once a person calls the 311 number, they are put on a wait list. Every morning at 8:30 a.m., the shelters citywide call the central reservation system to list available vacancies, and those available beds get released. Individuals then move from the waitlist to the reservation list and have 10 days to claim their bed.

 

Shelter reservations for one night and weekend stays are taken in the afternoons at the Shelter Reservation sites on http://sfhsa.org/ or made in person.

 

However, despite a long waiting list and lack of beds, city officials reported that there were 70 vacancies in single adult beds citywide.

 

Kenneth Reggio serves as executive director of Episcopal Community Services, which has a 30-year history of serving the Bay Area’s homeless population. Currently, they run two of the major shelters in the city. Sanctuary is a 200-bed facility and Next Door, located at Polk and Geary, has 334 beds.

 

“We run full — 96 percent to 100 percent — every night,” he said, “Generally, every bed is filled.”

 

This may seem at odds with the city’s claim that 70 vacancies are available city wide. Yet with beds even at 96 percent capacity, 1,200 beds, for example, would mean roughly 48 beds are available on a nightly basis.

 

Reggio believes that some vacancies are unavoidable due to differing circumstances. “You’re never going to have every bed full because there are exceptions,” he said.

 

These certain instances may include last minute change of plans, sickness, or a work pass. Some individuals on a work pass may have a bed held for them, but for a variety of reasons, may not make it back to the shelter that particular night. “There are always going to be some folks that either don’t show up and and it’s too late for us to fill it,” he said.

 

However, sometimes the shelter does call the resource center later in the evening to report no-shows so that those beds can be released to people on the waitlist. At that point many people waiting for beds have made other plans for the evening.

 

“That’s where the desire is of the people on the waitlist to have a longer term commitment for a bed so you don’t have to every night wondering where you’re going to sleep, shower, and go to the bathroom,” Reggio said.

 

Over 20 percent of San Francisco’s homeless population is between the ages of 18 and 24. Kathleen Stavis, of the Castro Youth Housing Initiative, works with transitional youth ranging in age from 12 to 24. She believes that the most vulnerable of the city’s population have particular challenges that need to be addressed. “It’s just not enough capacity,” she said. “Young people deserve to get off the street just as much as anyone else.”

 

Because of the lack of beds, many of these young men and women find less desirable solutions to their lack of housing. Many of them leave the city, camp in the park, squat in an abandoned building, or commit more illicit activities just to find a place stay.

 

“People need to realize that there are homeless youth and they don’t want to be homeless,” she said, “They are looking for solutions.”

 

Reggio echoes this sentiment, and believes that shelter is only a temporary answer to the larger problems facing the city’s homeless populations.

 

“Shelter is a place to provide a safety net for folks who don’t have a home,” he said, “The solution is housing.”

 

See also:

Lava Mae Services

 

Officials Plan Homeless Services

 

Homeless Navigation Center

 

Homeless at the Library

 

 

 

© Castro Courier 2014 No part of this website or artwork portrayed may be redistributed or republished without the express permission of the Castro Courier. Opinions expressed are strictly those of the writers and do not reflect the opinions of the publisher or staff.

MARCH 2016 ISSUE

 

Are Gay Bars a Thing of the Past?The city’s oldest gay bar, the Gangway, is closing this month. Eight other LGBT bars in the city have closed over the past decade, many replaced by upscale clubs. Photo: Bill Sywak

 

LGBT dives
being replaced
by swanky clubs

 

 

With San Francisco’s oldest gay bar, the Gangway, closing its doors this month, Castro residents are worried about the rapid changes happening across the city. There are currently 35 gay bars and clubs open in San Francisco according to GayCities.com. There are also 12 other bars and clubs that host LGBT events or are very gay friendly, but are not exclusively gay.

 

The Gangway is just one of eight other gay bars that have closed their doors in the past decade. Just last year, the only lesbian bar in San Francisco, the Lexington Club, closed in the Mission. In 2014, Esta Noche, the Mission gay bar which catered to the Latino queer community, also shut down. Before that in 2013, the city lost Marlena’s, another iconic drag bar in Hayes Valley. In 2012, patrons said goodbye to gay dive Deco on Larkin Street and in 2011, SF bid farewell to the popular corner bar the Transfer on Church and Market. And the list goes on.

 

Most of these gay establishments were shut down to make way for swanky cocktail bars like Brass Tacks, Churchill and Driftwood. Lexington Club owner Lila Thirkield announced via Facebook that she decided to sell the Lexington after her rent had been tripled to market rate. At the same time, the demographics and economics of the neighborhood continued to change, which also brought her sales down. Although San Francisco remains the gayest city in America with 6.2 percent of the population identifying as LGBTQ, newer residents moving to the city are less likely to identify as LGBT, according to the recent Castro and Upper Market Retail Strategy survey.

 

San Francisco was once a city that had gay bars tucked away in neighborhoods all over town, from the Financial District to Pacific Heights. Before the Castro became the gay mecca of San Francisco, the gay scene in the 1960s and 70s was actually centered in the Tenderloin. A march down Polk Street in 1970 turned into the first San Francisco Pride parade and celebration. In the years to come, the Castro took over as the predominantly gay neighborhood in the city. Today most of the gay bars are in the Castro and SOMA districts.

 

“I moved into the Castro almost 20 years ago and have been going out in the Castro and South of Market ever since,” District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener said. “While the Castro gay bar scene is different than it was 20 years ago, in some ways it’s better. There are still many gay bars in San Francisco, and there are a number of very interesting ones.”

 

Losing the Gangway is a big deal for the LGBT community due to its long history, dating back over a century. The nautical-themed dive bar first opened its doors in 1910 and was the site of a same-sex raid in 1911. During Prohibition, its name changed to the Larkin Street Grill and had a speakeasy in the basement. The Gangway has been a gay bar since at least 1961. According to the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control, a liquor license was filed on January 6, by Breaking Chad, Inc. to reopen the bar as Daddy Bones. Whether or not the establishment will remain gay is uncertain.

 

But Jocelyn Kane, executive director of the San Francisco Entertainment Commission, doesn’t think it matters if an establishment is gay or not to determine why it closes. She thinks that the bars are closing because no one is going to them.

 

“When was the last time you went to the Gangway?” Kane asked. “No one wants to go there because it is not kept up and it smells!”

 

Kane’s philosophy is this: if you run a good business, you’ll stay in business.

 

“All those lamenting the decline of this establishment or that should be asking themselves why they haven’t been patronizing these places more and contributing to their business success,” one resident commented on SFist.com. “Nobody closes a cash cow.”

 

In order for any business to flourish, there has to be a demand for any specialty venue.

 

“I’d like to attribute the decline of gay culture in SF to gay going mainstream,” another resident who goes by Xderloin stated. “I no longer feel the close ties to a specific location or business based on my sexuality. I think that at least here, as in many other places, it is representative of the changes and societal advancements that the gay community has fought for over the years.”

 

Some people may interpret this idea to mean that since gay marriage is now legal, there is no longer a need for gay bars. According to Justin Peligiri’s article in the Washington Blade, the idea behind this way of thinking is simple to understand.

 

“Queer people are everywhere. So there’s no longer any point in exclusively queer social realms, right?” Peligri asks. “Wrong. To me, the fact that gay people have become so ubiquitous provides all the more incentive for owners of gay establishments to do everything in their power to keep their doors wide open. Their presence in neighborhoods around the country is the best way for our community to hold dear our history and preserve uniquely queer safe spaces for another generation.”

 

As the current trend of gay bars in San Francisco continues on a downward spiral, we can only hope that they won’t become a thing of the past. The community urges you to frequent your favorite LGBT friendly watering hole often to help keep diversity alive.

 

See also:

Last Call for the Lexington Club

 

 

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

 

The Passing of a Mortuary

Longtime Establishment Closes
After Decades

Anna Damiani, aide to State Sen. Mark Leno, presents a proclamation from Leno to the Sullivan brothers, Art (left) and Jim (right). The brothers’ longtime mortuary is closing at the end of March.

 

 

 

After nearly a century in business and three generations of family ownership, the Castro’s only funeral home has run its course.

 

At the regular monthly meeting of the Castro Merchants on Thursday, March 3, there was a special dual presentation to Arthur J. Sullivan III and his brother James J. Sullivan, on the occasion of the planned closing this month of Arthur J. Sullivan & Co. Funeral Directors at 2254 Market Street after 90 continuous years of service (since 1924). Art and Jim have been third generation principals in the family business for over 35 years and key members of the Castro community.

 

Certificates of recognition were presented to the brothers by Adam Taylor, legislative aide to Supervisor Scott Wiener on behalf of Supervisor Wiener and the full Board of Supervisors, and March 3rd was declared “Art and Jim Sullivan Day in San Francisco.” In addition, Anna Damiani, legislative aide to State Senator Mark Leno, presented certificates of recognition to the Sullivans on behalf of Senator Leno and the California State Senate.

 

Given the property value and the possibility of moving towards retirement, the Sullivan family sold the business to Duggans-Serra Mortuary in Daly City in 2007. Jim Sullivan in particular plans to keep in touch with the new owners and help out on a part-time basis after closing the Market Street building by the end of March.

 

For those of us involved in the first months of the Castro Courier in 2007, it is an especially poignant occasion as Sullivan was one of our first regular sponsors and their advertisement has appeared in every edition of the paper since.

 

The Prado Group

 

The Prado Group, a San Francisco-based real estate development and investment company, pursued the Sullivan site for a number of years, having worked with the Castro and Upper Market community since the early days of the Market Octavia Plan. Their objective with 2254 Market St. was “to provide a transit-oriented, mixed-use environment with much needed housing and retail uses to compliment a vibrant, transit rich, walkable neighborhood.”

 

The project includes three buildings: the Market Street building ranging from 2 to 5 stories; a new three-story townhome on 15th Street; and an existing residential building on 15th Street that is being retained. The new units will include 12 studios, 10 1-bedroom units, and 20-2 bedroom units, 2 3-bedroom units and 1 4-bedroom unit. No decision has been made at the present time about the number of condos and the number of rentals.

 

The decision to retain the existing building facing Market Street was aided by the influence of Jay Turnbull, who helped establish the Upper Market Commercial Historic District.

 

The Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association

 

According to the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association (DTNA), following a “concerning series of presentations by developers” at the December 7 Land Use Committee meeting, DTNA sent a letter to San Francisco Planning Director John Rahaim, “asking for a pause [in development] for consideration of some serious issues” with three proposed developments in Upper Market. Included was a 45-unit building proposed by Prado Group for 2254 Market St., namely the site of the Sullivan Funeral Home and the adjacent parking lot on Market Street.

 

Over the recent past years DTNA has been actively engaged in a “huge wave” of development approvals. For the most part all of these projects ultimately responded to community issues that DTNA advocated. In the case of this new round of developments, however, DTNA was concerned that this would not happen this time.

 

In developing the property at 2254 Market St., the neighborhood association’s three major areas of concern were design, affordability and retail. DTNA saw design as “not a problem caused by the developers or by their architects [but] a problem that rests with Planning’s design review.”

 

According to DTNA, the planners on the three projects had not reached out to DTNA or attended Land Use meetings to ask for design input. Overall communication from case planners was deemed poor, leading DTNA to conclude the process of design review was “completely disconnected from any ground-level community feedback and needs a new look.”

 

On the issue of affordability, DTNA’s view is that the Upper Market, Castro and the Haight have experienced “a crisis of affordability over the last three years” and that one of the tools to maintain income diversity is affordable housing in market-rate development projects. Despite a 20 percent onsite affordable unit expectation to developers, DTNA stated that all three presented projects met only the required city minimum of 12 percent.

 

On the issue of retail, DTNA has long been concerned about the proliferation of formula retail in the neighborhood, but has been willing to accept some level of formula use as long as it is balanced with local, neighborhood-serving businesses. In 2013 a Formula Retail Concentration Methodology for the Upper Market was developed with the Planning Department, and in 2014 citywide formula-retail legislation passed the Board of Supervisors.

 

Despite that, according to DTNA, all developers were proposing retail spaces above 2500 square feet, a size that makes the implementation of the Concentration Methodology more difficult.

 

In a request to Planning Director Rahaim to meet with the DTNA Land Use Committee at their February 1 meeting, the minutes conclude that “unfortunately he has not been willing to pause the development process” and continued by scheduling a hearing with the Planning Commission on the Sullivan lot for February 11. The commission voted to approve the development at 2254 Market as scheduled. At the present time upcoming interactions between Prado and the community will be tied to outreach related to construction activities.

 

The final sentiments from Prado Group echo the relationship that others have enjoyed with the Sullivan family: Please know that the Sullivan family, and Jim Sullivan in particular, could not have been more gracious to work with. Jim is a true gentleman, extremely kind, and we greatly value the relationship we have developed with him and his family. We wish him and his family all of the best.

 

Photo: Bill Sywak

 

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

 

2100 Market Street proposed development is one of the projects in questionDuboce Neighbors Oppose Three Housing Projects

 

 

Three new developments on Upper Market Street, including one at the long-vacant site of Home Restaurant, are close to moving from planning to construction.

 

The three, highly visible developments, although proposed by different agencies, all present different sides of similar problems. Due to this, the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association (DTNA) requested a pause on construction back in September. As of February 4, the projects have been approved and all three are moving forward.

 

The DTNA had previously supported other recent developments in the area (2175 Market St. and 2198 Market St.). Taking into account the transit viability of the neighborhood — not to mention the abundance of open lots waiting for a new build — the association looked boldly forward with this kind of dense development, so long as the neighborhood’s integrity remained intact.

 

But the disconnect between the DTNA and the Planning Commission seems to have arisen over differing requirements and policies. While the DTNA has worked in conjunction with a number of other neivghborhood associations (Hayes Valley, Eureka Valley, North of the Panhandle, and Lower Haight) to create their own guidelines and requirements, the Planning Commission is making decisions based on a document called the Market & Octavia Neighborhood Plan.

 

The neighborhood’s integrity has been considered across three elements of the developments’ facets: design, affordability and retail.

 

While elements of a good neighborhood include aesthetics, variety of housing choices, and special character, the association feared that many of the planned designs were closer to some sort of cyber-Brutalism rather than the charming and quaint Victorian style of most of the rest of the surrounding buildings (with the exception, of course, of recent developments).

 

With the new go-ahead, the Planning Department staff is working with the project sponsor to change the designs, including an improved facade and other elements of a redesign.

 

Perhaps most concerning is the hot-button topic of affordability in the new developments. Whereas the combined Neighborhood Associations agreed upon a minimum of 20 percent affordable housing in new developments — still considered a paltry number by some — the developers are moving forward with plans at the city minimum of 12 percent.

 

According to SF Planning Commission’s Communications Manager, Gina Simi, the developers are not required to fulfill this request from the Neighborhood Associations and the Commission cannot mandate for 20 percent outside of the city minimum.

 

In a city in which the future of market-rate housing depends on the future of resident influx, some worry that building at this rate may return to haunt the neighborhood in years of less plenty still to come.

 

Finally, the Market-Octavia Plan posits walking to shops as a key element of a great neighborhood. Accordingly, the three developments are planned with built-in retail spaces on their ground floors.

 

The DTNA, as well as the Planning Commission’s own policies, concern themselves with an excess of formula retail stores (i.e. chain stores) to maintain neighborhood character. The Planning Department agreed in 2013 that they would recommend against formula retail approval.

 

However, these new developments utilize their retail space in a way that could encourage only formula retail with sizes and leases unrealistic to small and local businesses. With retail spaces all greater than 2,500 square feet, small businesses would struggle in units that large.

 

In response to the Neighborhood Association’s feedback, the retail space will be broken up into smaller units appropriate for small businesses.

 

While some of the desires of the community have been placated, others still remain at odds with the current plans.

 

In a neighborhood that has seen its fair share of growth, it’s important that the desires of the community are spoken for. Those interested to share their opinion can contact the DTNA at dtna.org or go to SF Planning Commission Meetings, Thursdays at noon at City Hall.

 

 

 

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

 

Bowie Tribute Rocks Castro Theatre

 

 

A David Bowie Tribute will be held March 12 at the Castro Theatre.

 

 

 

On January 10, 2016, when David Bowie died, unexpectedly to most, the world went into a collective shock unlike anything we’d seen since John Lennon left this realm in December of 1980. Tributes to the man have been popping up around the world ever since his passing. Marc Huestis, who last produced an event at the Castro Theatre a little over a year ago, has emerged from semi-retirement to bring his contribution to the remembrance and adulation of David Bowie. On Saturday, March 12th, Marc Huestis Presents and the Castro Theatre will host A Tribute To David Bowie with a screening of The Man Who Fell To Earth. Candy Clark, who co-starred in the film, will appear in conversation with Tony Bravo, of the San Francisco Chronicle.

 

Wendy: David Bowie meant so much to so many people on a lot of different levels. What personally drew you to the idea of creating a tribute to him?

 

Marc: It’s interesting because I was never a huge fan of his, but I always liked him and he always was the soundtrack of my life. On facebook I’m friends with Candy Clark and I see her posts all the time. She always would post about her tomatoes and her garden stuff, and I always loved that because I was a community gardener. As you know I have been out of circulation for a while, but trying to figure out ways of keeping my pulse on stuff. When the album dropped I thought [to] ask Candy to do something at a small theatre, like the Alamo Drafthouse or something like that. The album dropped on a Friday, and [I thought] maybe on Monday or Tuesday I’ll contact her, and then he died. When I first saw the news on Facebook I was absolutely in shock and it actually did effect me way more than I thought it would. I got up the nerve to write her a very sweet and respectful letter asking if she would want to do this. She immediately said yes and so I was was thrilled about that. And then, just doing all the research, I’ve really come to be a huge fan. I love, love, love, love, loved the “Lazarus” video. I thought it was a really brave piece of work and amazing how he planned out his grand exit, and that he was able to be that vulnerable and show people what it actually looked like, someone who was ill and who was dying. That really was something that hit me very deep. Talking to Candy about it, she was really upset about how ill he looked. Seeing the reaction of people on facebook, just the tributes that were pouring in, I felt like through osmosis I was feeling the waves of energy coming from all different types of people.

 

I had a little bit of reticence at the beginning of doing it. I got this together so [quickly] it’s not even funny. I announced it on facebook and most of the reaction was really, really kind but I did get a couple of really snarky negative responses like, “Can’t you give even us a day to breathe? Are you still pushing your product?” I woke up the Wednesday of that week and I’m like, “I can’t do this. I just cannot do it. I can’t deal with this criticism; I can’t deal with this energy.” Just as I was ready to give up the ghost, magically and cosmically Candy Clark called me and gave me a half hour pep talk about how it needed to happen and how important it was for her and how important it was for the David Bowie fans. So, I announced it right away and immediately people responded, bought tickets and stuff. Long story short I’m really glad I’m doing it. I’m enjoying it immensely. One of the things that I really want to do, particularly [after] seeing that [Lady] Gaga tribute on [the] Grammys, which I thought was ********. I’m not a hater of hers; I feel neutral; I think she has a great voice but she doesn’t really thrill me. I want some sort of emotional center to this event, and to really make people feel something. One of the performers is gonna sing “Lazarus” and we’re gonna do a whole ritual around that. It will be a celebration and also a meditation on his life.

 

Wendy: David Bowie really expanded ideas of what’s beautiful in terms of looks and style and gender and the arts. He made more space for people who were outsiders within popular culture.

 

Marc: Interestingly enough, when he was doing that I was involved with The Angels of Light here and we were kind of doing it. You know how sometimes people are jealous, like when Madonna did the “Vogue” thing and everybody criticized her for appropriating black culture, we were like, “Oh, we’ve been doing this way before he was doing it.” It was a little bit of that kind of tension with Bowie but he did mainstream it. Looking back on it, I’m doing a lot of clip reels and stuff, and I didn’t realize he went back as far as 1969. I didn’t have any consciousness around him at that time. He was at it for a very long time.

 

Wendy: He started his musical career in the mid-sixties I believe.

 

Marc: Right. I have a very cute clip of him as David Jones. He started [The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long Haired Men]. I cut it a little bit more succinctly, but he was on with all these kids with long hair and they were talking about the oppression on guys with long hair and how they were being called ‘Darling’. It’s just the most adorable thing that you could ever see.

 

Wendy: Let’s talk about what you have happening that night. You were talking about your famous clip reels....

 

Marc: Which I’m really enjoying. There’ll be 35 minutes of clips. I did a thing called “Duets,” in which it’s all duets that he does with Cher, and Marianne Faithfull, Lou Reed, Tina Turner. We’re gonna have a sing-a-long to “Starman”; we’re gonna have a dance-a-long - “Let’s Dance.” One of the clips is a rare clip from the Saturday Night Live when he was with my friend Joey Arias, who I had at The Castro, and also Klaus Nomi. There’s a lot of great little chestnuts. Yesterday I cut “Space Oddity,” four versions of that and I intertwined them all together, which was fun. Then the performances are gonna happen. Veronica Klaus [is] gonna sing “Wild is the Wind,” which is one of my favorite. least performed of his songs. She actually did that song when I had her in another show of mine. I have this a cappella group called Conspiracy of Venus; they do “Life on Mars” a cappella in four part harmony which is fabulous. Kitten on the Keys is gonna sing “Lazarus” and we’re gonna do a whole little ritual around that. I’m having fashion show with Juanita More, who is a drag icon, of course to the song “Fashion,” and a group of 30 dancers doing “Let’s Dance” to open the show.

 

Wendy: Right. D’Arcy Drollinger’s Sexitude Dancers. I understand that Mr. David is working with Juanita More on the “Fashion” segment.

 

Marc: That’s correct. Mr. David is a pretty well known local designer and Juanita is a drag diva. I’m not gonna be onstage for this one. Tony Bravo from the San Francisco Chronicle, who is quite smart and is really doing a lot of assignments for them now, is gonna do the interview [with Candy Clark]. Before the interview I’m gonna show a 10 minute clip reel of David Bowie in the films as a film actor and it will end with a clip from The Man Who Fell To Earth. Then Candy will come on and she’ll do a 30 to 45 minute interview, and then we’ll have the intermission and show the film.

Wendy: That’s wonderful. The Man Who Fell To Earth is a pretty heavy film.

 

Marc: Yeah, and it’s the most iconic of his films. It was his first and obviously it meant a lot to him because there’s that Off-Broadway show now, Lazarus, that actually has the characters from the film. That is obviously something that he felt a lot of connection towards, even at the end.

 

Wendy: At the finish of your tribute at the Castro there’s an after party at another venue.

 

Marc: Yeah. That’s not mine but I’m thrilled that it’s happening at the Oasis. When this happened I connected with Heklina right away, who is the club entrepreneur at Oasis, and asked her when she was doing her thing. Cosmically it all came together. She had taken that date first and luckily it was available at the Castro, ‘cause getting a date at the Castro is not easy. It was good for me because I wanted some time passage. My event is gonna be more unplugged and her event is gonna be more rock ‘em sock ‘em, all out rock and roll type thing. There’s room for both of them and they’re both equally important in tributing David Bowie.

 

Photo courtesy of Marc Huestis

 

 

 

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

 

Mural Captures Marriage Proposal

The new mural in the Castro at 18th and Noe streets was finished just before Valentine’s Day

 

The dramatic new mural at 18th and Noe Street captures the sentiment of romantic love, and the time when Camiel asked George, “Will you marry me?!” George hesitated a moment and then gave him a resounding “Yes!” It was Valentine’s Day.

 

Camiel asked Deb, a friend and internationally known muralist, to paint a mural that captured his feelings. They asked the owner of owner of the Indian eatery, Kasa, Anamika Khanna, if they could use the large purple wall on the Noe side. She was supportive from the beginning. Deb began painting right away and she finished the mural in four days.

 

Camiel, who lives in the Castro, wanted to surprise George, who is moving from out of town to the Castro. Friends drove him to the mural and he was overwhelmed with his feelings for Camiel. In the mural, George is on the left and Camiel is on the right.

 

“Love of all sorts is being celebrated in the mural, including lesbian, gay, and interracial and transgender love,” Camiel said. “Having the right to marry is commemorated and preserved as a historical marker for the community here. That is really important.”

 

“I love it,” Anamika said passing by. A few people gathered at the curb chatting about the mural as Deb was painting on a ladder. A photographer who lives across the street documented her work in progress. Deb painted fast. She finished by painting black lines around most of the images so they also looked like a variety of different abstract shapes.

 

After the heads, the mural scene continues with images of two lesbians and two men kissing, two affectionate peacocks and two lovers.

 

Deb added, “The mural has an important message about race and same-sex marriage. I hope that someday there won’t be prejudices. Love is love, that’s the message. Love conquers everything and anyone can be in love.”

 

 

Photo: Sally Swope

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

 

Few Vacanies Exist in Area Homeless Shelters

 

On March 1, city workers cleared a makeshift tent camp located between 11th Street and South Van Ness Avenue. The area was declared a health hazard due to unsanitary conditions.

 

The removal was the culmination of a citywide debate about the availability of shelters for the city’s homeless population. The subject received worldwide attention recently when last month’s Super Bowl drew major tourists to the city.

 

According to a 2015 report conducted by the city, 6886 homeless people live in San Francisco, 3,505 who were “unsheltered” and forced to find shelter in parks, abandoned buildings, or on the street.

 

There was only an availability of 1,500 beds, and according to sf11.org, 711 people on currently the waitlist, which is updated daily.

 

Over a year ago, the process to obtain a shelter bed became more centralized. Long-term 90-day reservations can only be made by calling 311 only. Once a person calls the 311 number, they are put on a wait list. Every morning at 8:30 a.m., the shelters citywide call the central reservation system to list available vacancies, and those available beds get released. Individuals then move from the waitlist to the reservation list and have 10 days to claim their bed.

 

Shelter reservations for one night and weekend stays are taken in the afternoons at the Shelter Reservation sites on http://sfhsa.org/ or made in person.

 

However, despite a long waiting list and lack of beds, city officials reported that there were 70 vacancies in single adult beds citywide.

 

Kenneth Reggio serves as executive director of Episcopal Community Services, which has a 30-year history of serving the Bay Area’s homeless population. Currently, they run two of the major shelters in the city. Sanctuary is a 200-bed facility and Next Door, located at Polk and Geary, has 334 beds.

 

“We run full — 96 percent to 100 percent — every night,” he said, “Generally, every bed is filled.”

 

This may seem at odds with the city’s claim that 70 vacancies are available city wide. Yet with beds even at 96 percent capacity, 1,200 beds, for example, would mean roughly 48 beds are available on a nightly basis.

 

Reggio believes that some vacancies are unavoidable due to differing circumstances. “You’re never going to have every bed full because there are exceptions,” he said.

 

These certain instances may include last minute change of plans, sickness, or a work pass. Some individuals on a work pass may have a bed held for them, but for a variety of reasons, may not make it back to the shelter that particular night. “There are always going to be some folks that either don’t show up and and it’s too late for us to fill it,” he said.

 

However, sometimes the shelter does call the resource center later in the evening to report no-shows so that those beds can be released to people on the waitlist. At that point many people waiting for beds have made other plans for the evening.

 

“That’s where the desire is of the people on the waitlist to have a longer term commitment for a bed so you don’t have to every night wondering where you’re going to sleep, shower, and go to the bathroom,” Reggio said.

 

Over 20 percent of San Francisco’s homeless population is between the ages of 18 and 24. Kathleen Stavis, of the Castro Youth Housing Initiative, works with transitional youth ranging in age from 12 to 24. She believes that the most vulnerable of the city’s population have particular challenges that need to be addressed. “It’s just not enough capacity,” she said. “Young people deserve to get off the street just as much as anyone else.”

 

Because of the lack of beds, many of these young men and women find less desirable solutions to their lack of housing. Many of them leave the city, camp in the park, squat in an abandoned building, or commit more illicit activities just to find a place stay.

 

“People need to realize that there are homeless youth and they don’t want to be homeless,” she said, “They are looking for solutions.”

 

Reggio echoes this sentiment, and believes that shelter is only a temporary answer to the larger problems facing the city’s homeless populations.

 

“Shelter is a place to provide a safety net for folks who don’t have a home,” he said, “The solution is housing.”

 

See also:

Lava Mae Services

 

Officials Plan Homeless Services

 

Homeless Navigation Center

 

Homeless at the Library

 

 

 

© Castro Courier 2014