Protesters on MUNI flow through the city the day after Donald Trump’s inaguration. Thousands of people made their way to Civic Center for the Women’s March on Saturday, January 21. How will the public react to the new administration in its second month? Stay tuned... Photo: Jessica Webb

Castro Cares’ Feb. Sock Drive for Homeless

 

 

Winter is an especially challenging time for the homeless. During the colder months, those who are frequently exposed to the elements can be subjected to hypothermia, frostbite and death.

 

Foot care is vital for those who are living on the street. Clean socks are critical in maintaining feet that are free from infection and disease.

 

With that in mind, Castro Cares and the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District are conducting a sock drive during the month of February with the goal of collecting 2,000 pairs of new socks. They distributed about 1,000 pairs in 2016. The Apothecarium of San Francisco donated 460 pairs of socks in each of the past two years.

 

New socks are desperately needed in both men’s and women’s sizes. Tube socks are best.

 

Starting February 1, new socks can be dropped off at 13 locations in the Castro and Upper Market area: Coldwell Banker, Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, The Apothecarium San Francisco, Body, Orphan Andy’s, Hearth Coffee, Mudpuppy’s, Philz Coffee, Vanguard Properties, Bank of America, The Dailey Method, and The Coop.

 

 

• • •  April 2016 News Briefs • • •

Sunday Streets

 

Sunday Streets will kick off its 2016 season along Valencia Street on Sunday, April 10 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. This marks Sunday Streets 9th year of bringing the open streets format to neighborhoods across San Francisco, blending together community involvement and free health activities at eight monthly events running from April through November. Sunday Streets is a completely free event and does not allow vending or sales along the route.

 

New to 2016, Sunday Streets is focusing its onsite programming into two Activity Hubs that will group organizations and businesses together to share activities with the community that support healthy lifestyles. The Activity Hubs will feature collaborations with partners across the art, music, and dance worlds, along with health, fitness, cycling and animal groups.

 

Highlights include free demos from Bay Area Bike Share, basketball with the Golden State Warriors, live music, dance classes and performances, free blood pressure screening and informative installations by community groups like the St. Francis Homeless Challenge. The SFMTA is also staging a new 60’ bus to showcase the latest Muni Forward transit enhancements and Van Ness Improvement Project updates at the season launch of Sunday Streets.

 

Flax To Be Razed

 

After 37 years on the corner of Market and Valencia, the iconic Flax art supply store closed up shop earlier this year and rolled right out of the city. The store reopened in a 14,500-squarefoot former automotive repair shop and indoor soccer facility on the outskirts of downtown Oakland. The location is now vacant and will be torn down to make way for more than 160 condominiums.

 

Tony Robbins Buys Nuns a Soup Kitchen in Area

 

After an episodic struggle against a rent increase and eviction, a group of French nuns who run a soup kitchen for the poor in the Tenderloin received both cash and a new building courtesy of one of America’s most famous self-help speakers. The Fraternite Notre Dame nuns faced a 60-percent rent increase at their soup kitchen in February and were given a three-day notice. Author and motivational speaker Tony Robbins read about their story and personally donated $50,000 to the nuns, who continued searching for a new place.

 

Then, on March 25 — Good Friday — Robbins went ahead and bought a new building for the nuns at 1930 Mission Street, directly next to the city’s Navigation Center for the homeless.

 

“We were looking for a place all over the city and when we saw that place we really thought that that was the place God wanted us to put the soup kitchen,” said Sister Mary Benedict, who bakes French pastries and sells them at the farmers market to pay for the soup kitchen. She expects to move into the new location within two months.

 

• • • • • • March 2016 News Briefs • • • • • •

 

 

Castro Courier Celebrates 10 Years

 

To all “friends and fans” of the Courier – a milestone!

 

With this issue of the Castro Courier, we have reached what we think is a significant milestone in this day and age. The Courier is celebrating our 10th year as a publication – no small feat for a “free” newspaper, especially during these times where printed publications are disappearing at an alarming rate.

 

It is a testament to our readers (both in print and online), our advertisers and the local merchants who graciously assist us in keeping the neighborhood news fresh and vibrant. All of us who work to bring the Courier to press each month have a connection to the people we meet and to the neighborhoods of the Castro and Upper Market areas where we deliver door-to-door.

 

We believe that neighborhood-based, locally sourced journalism is vitally important, especially as larger publications devote less and less resources to chronicle the challenges and successes in each of our neighborhoods, and our lives.

 

In closing, we want to say “Thank You” to everyone who has supported this endeavor from its debut 10 years ago to the current issue. We are merely stewards of the process and we hope to continue to serve the neighborhood for years to come.

 

Sincerely,

 

Mitch Bull, Publisher and Editor in Chief

 

Ted Andersen, Managing Editor

 

Bill Sywak, Deputy Editor

 

 

• • • • • • January 2016 News Briefs • • • • • •

 

City Attorney Seeks Injunction on Castro Landlord’s Evictions

 

 

 

City Attorney Dennis Herrera is seeking a court order to stop Castro landlord Anne Kihagi from continuing to engage in a what he calls a pattern of lawless business practices, which have persisted unabated even months after Herrera first sued the landlord and real estate investor earlier this year. The civil action pending in San Francisco Superior Court contends that Kihagi has been waging “a war of harassment, intimidation, and retaliation” against dozens of her tenants—targeting seniors and disabled renters for particularly vicious treatment—to force them from their rent-controlled homes. Herrera’s motion for preliminary injunction seeks to immediately halt Kihagi’s illegal evictions, harassing practices and hostile interactions, restricting her personal contact with tenants, and requiring her to hire a third-party professional to manage the properties. If granted, the injunction would also require Kihagi and her web of associated business entities to fix housing and safety code violations; obtain all requisite permits; and fully submit to city inspections to ensure the safety and health of residents and neighbors.

 

 

Read More ...

 

 

 

 

• • • • • • Previous News Briefs • • • • • •

 

 

Photo: Khaled SayedHousing Moratorium

 

Tommi Avicolli Mecca of the Housing Rights Committee calls on the leaders for District 8 to support David Campos’ legislation about freezing market-rate housing developments for a year in the Mission. Mecca was speaking before The Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club rally at Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro on Saturday, May 30.

• • • • • • Previous News Briefs • • • • • •

 

Roxie Rocks It

 

District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener presenting the award for District 8 Small Business of the Year 2015 to the staff of the Roxie Theatre.

 

Stuart Locklear Photography

 

June 2015

 

 

• • • • • • March News Briefs • • • • • •

 

Pulling Weeds on Corona Heights

 

 

Looking something like the “Hi-ho” dwarves in a Walt Disney epic, volunteers spent several hours last Saturday in the nature area of San Francisco’s Corona Heights Park.

 

Bounded by Roosevelt Way and Museum Way near the Randall Museum, the park has a colorful past and was largely undiscovered by many visitors to the city.

 

For the past 20 years, a group of volunteer city dwellers who enjoy the pleasures of working in nature have been spending about a half-day a quarter climbing the rock formations above the Castro and tending to the native flora. While the area is underlain by Franciscan chert bedrock, portions of the park are made up of native plant communities. Under the guidance of Coordinator Russell Hartman from Cal Academy and Assistant Coordinator Jennifer Sotelo, these volunteer weekend gardeners pull weeds, plant and water new native growths and look after the horticultural welfare of the native inhabitants.

 

“With the gorgeous weather and some very warm days lately,” wrote Hartman, “the weeds are sure to be growing as fast as they can and the soil is probably drying out.” So last Saturday, “we’ll be watering the new plants we put in during the last few months, to give them a little boost, as well as going after French broom . . . and plantain in the grassland areas.”

 

According to local lore, in 1899 excavation began on the hill that encompassed all of Buena Vista Park down to Market Street to make way for the George and Harry Gray brothers’ Corona Heights Quarry. Unfortunately the tons of bricks created from the removed rock were substandard and were used in cable car beds, eventually coming loose and turning into flying debris, injuring adults and children.

 

Later, in 1909, the quarry’s cashier was shot and killed by an unpaid worker who lost his temper. Then in 1915, George Gray, the quarry’s millionaire owner, refused to pay $17.50 to a former worker and was murdered by the worker at the quarry, effectively ending its operation.

 

Rest assured, however, that if you go to pick weeds today, the air is peaceful and the views are spectacular.

 

 

Photo: Bill Sywak

 

• • • • • • January News Briefs • • • • • •

 

 

 

Hamburger Mary’s Coming to the Castro

This year 531 Castro St., which has been vacant since 1999, is expected to begin housing Hamburger Mary’s, a gay-friendly eatery that began in SF.

 

The LGBT-oriented hamburger chain that originated onv Folsom Street in the 1970s will return to the city of its origin after winning approval from the SF Planning Commission in early December. The burger joint will occupy the long-shuttered Patio Café at 531 Castro St.

 

FDA’s Blood Donation Ban on Gay Men Likely to Change

 

On December 23 the Food and Drug Administration released a statement recommending a change to the blood donor deferral period for men who have sex with men from indefinite to one year since the last sexual contact. The FDA intends to issue a draft guidance recommending this proposed change in policy in 2015, which will also include an opportunity for public comment. FDA’s policies on gay men donating blood date back to 1983 and its current policy has been in place since 1992.

 

 

Looking Season 2

 

HBO has confirmed the premiere date of the second season of Looking for January 11. The dramedy follows the lives of San Francisco friends Patrick, Agustin and Dom who search for happiness and intimacy in the modern gay world. The show, which has been shot in prime Castro locations such as Jane Warner Plaza, first aired January 19, 2014. One month later, it was averaging 2 million viewers per episode.

 

 PrEP Informational Open House Schedule for Jan. 11

 

The Eureka Valley Recreation Center (100 Collingwood St.) will host a PrEP open house on January 11. The forum is designed for those interested in the anti-HIV treatment but who need help figuring out health coverage options that fit into a budget. Attendants will be able to hear personal experiences from current PrEP users abut accessing the treatment, ask questions in a small group setting and meet with representatives from the health insurance plans available through the Covered California marketplace.

 

Farmers’ Market Shuts Down

 

The Castro Famers’ Market closed for the winter season on December 17 and will reopen in early March. The market is organized by the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association.

 

 

 

• • • • • •December News Briefs • • • • • •

 

 

Light It Up

 

On Monday night, December 1, the Castro community gathered at the corner of 18th and Castro streets for the annual Castro Tree Lighting Ceremony, sponsored by the Castro Merchants. This year the event benefited from the spacious new street and sidewalk, along with soft lighting wrapped around 31 trees, courtesy of individual merchants. Evidently Santa had arrived somewhat ahead of schedule. The program included the voices of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco, and the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Freedom Band. Under the practiced hand of the Castro’s very own moderator, Donna Sachet (pictured with microphone), speakers included Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor Scott Wiener. They were followed by the senior citizen from the north, the gentleman who sported an unruly beard before it became hip-tastic, Mr.

Santa Claus himself.

 

Photo: Titus West

 

 

••••• October News Briefs •••••

 

Hecho In the Castro

 

 

 

Photo: Ted Andersen

 

 

 

Hecho Mexican restaurant moved into the Castro in early September. Owner Jesse Woodward, also the owner of Hi Tops bar in the ‘hood, recommends the carnitas tacos.

 

 

 

••••• June News Briefs •••••

 

Milk Enshrined by the Post OfficThe unveiling of the Harvey Milk stamp drew international attention on May 22.

Lost AIDS Money Found

 

Mayor Ed Lee will propose spending $2.7 million of the City’s money to make up for a loss in federal dollars for HIV services in San Francisco, according to District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener’s May newsletter. “Since 2011, we’ve experienced over $20 million in federal HIV cuts,” Wiener wrote, “and thanks to a joint commitment by Mayor Lee and the Board of Supervisors, we’ve backfilled every penny locally.” The $2.7 million reflects an estimated round of additional federal cuts. “Lives depend on this funding,” the supervisor said, “and I’m proud that San Francisco is continuing to show unwavering support for those living with and at-risk for HIV.” Wiener asked residents to thank Mayor Lee for his support and leadership on the issue.

 

Honor Walk Moves Forward

 

Last month, the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District (CBD) Board approved the 20 facts that will make up the Castro History Walk. As bits of history of the Castro area, the facts will be etched into the sidewalk as part of the sidewalk widening project, currently underway in the neighborhood. The facts date from the pre-1700s to the present. The CBD approved money for the project earlier this year after months of review. That review included input from the public, which improved the project overall, said Andrea Aiello, executive director, Castro/Upper Market CBD.

 

Castro Merchants Approve New President

 

Earlier this spring, the Castro Merchants elected Mudpuppies owner Daniel Bergerac as its new president. He succeeds Terry Asten-Bennett, manager, Cliff’s Variety Store. One of Bergerac’s goals is assigning board members to individual businesses, so businesses will have someone to call for questions or concerns. “I am proud to have him as my successor and our leader,” Asten-Bennett told the Courier. “Daniel Bergerac is an active member of our community. He cares deeply about the health and well-being of our neighborhood. He is a strong advocate for small businesses.” Bergerac took over in early April of this year.

 

Most Sidewalks Construction To Be Completed by July

 

The Castro sidewalk widening project is still going full steam ahead, according to Rachel Gordon, spokesperson, San Francisco Department of Public Works (DPW). Gordon said sidewalk widening will be done in time for San Francisco’s Pride celebration, though the overall project will not be complete. To finish the project, the City will likely need to do related sidewalk work, erect lights and landscape the area. DPW wants to extend its gratitude to everyone in the Castro for their patience. “We know this is a huge inconvenience for them,” Gordon said. The Castro/Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association is encouraging residents to shop in the neighborhood because business is down at some shops.

 

Vote on June 3

 

Primary Election Day is June 3. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at all City voting locations. The following offices are up for election: governor, lieutenant governor, District 12 U.S. Representative, District 14 U.S. Representative, Secretary of State, Controller, District 17 State Assembly, District 19 State Assembly, State Treasurer, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, Superior Court Judge among others. In addition, the ballot will include two state measures and two local measures. Proposition B, a local measure, has received a lot of attention in the City. If passed, the measure would force the City to get voter approval before allowing development on Port property to exceed existing height limits.

 

••••• April News Briefs •••••

 

Ellis Act Reform

 

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a measure in April to peg landlord payouts to those evicted by the Ellis Act based on the number of years the tenant had lived in an apartment. The State Legislature is now considering stronger reform. More next month...

 

 

 

••••• March News Briefs •••••

 

Supervisors March to Protest Tax Breaks for Corporations

 

District 11 Supervisor John Avalos and District 9 Supervisor David Campos marched with hundreds of workers and community members to oppose tax breaks for city-based corporations. The protesters believe the tax money lost by providing the breaks needs to be spent on vital services for city residents. Media contacts for the protesters were unavailable to say what vital services they want. “Whether you are a city, a tech, a non-profit worker or an elected city leader, we all must stand up against sweetheart deals for a better, more affordable San Francisco,” said Larry Bradshaw a paramedic with the San Francisco Fire Department and SEIU Local 1021 Vice President. Since Twitter became a public company, the tax break for company amounts to $55 million annually in lost city revenue, a press release from the protesters claims.

 

City Business Taxes to Change

 

Taxes on city businesses with more than $1 million in annual gross receipts are changing. To inform businesses about the changes, the Office of the Mayor is hosting public seminars. The first seminar will be held from 2 to 3:30 p.m., Thursday, March 6, 2014, at the San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin Street. The city is hosting a seminar the first Thursday of every month through July. Most small businesses are exempt from the changes, which include the phasing in of a gross receipts tax while reducing the payroll expense tax. But business registration fees are changing for all businesses. Seating for the seminars is limited. The city is asking interested businesses to RSVP to Marianne Thompson at 415-554-6297 or marianne.thompson@sfgov.org.

 

Castro Farmer’s Market Starting Up This Month

 

The Castro neighborhood’s farmer’s market starts March 12 this year. New produce will include organic dates, regular and flavored. “I’m pretty sure there’s going to be one or two more [items],” said Jorge Vega, regional manager, Pacific Coast Farmer’s Market Association (PCFMA), which operates the Castro’s market. Residents and vendors will hold a grand opening celebration March 12, with a ribbon cutting at 5 p.m. The market will be open each Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. until December 17. Located where Noe Street and Market Street meet, the market accepts payment through the WIC and CalFresh (food stamps) programs. Also, non-profits can set up a table at the market. The PCFMA asks that non-profits contact the association before going to the market.

 

Supervisor Wiener Advocating for More Late Night Transportation

 

San Francisco’s public transportation systems will be running later into the night, if District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener has his way. The supervisor, who represents Castro residents at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, wants MUNI light rail vehicles to run until at least 2:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights, and BART to run all night. “If BART can’t run 24 hours, I’d like to see it run until 2:30 a.m., at a minimum on Friday and Saturday nights,” the supervisor said. He wants San Francisco workers and residents to have access to public transportation in the early morning hours. The supervisor’s also advocating for an increase in the number of buses that run all night, greater public awareness of the all-night buses and more reliable service from AC Transit to the East Bay. The San Francisco Board of Supervisor’s Land Use and Economic Development Committee will discuss the issue Monday, March 24, at 1:30 p.m.

 

Referendum Fails, Non-discrimination Law Remains in Effect

 

Transgender students and advocates are celebrating last month’s failure of a California referendum. Supporters of the referendum hoped to overturn a law requiring equal treatment for transgender students in California public schools. But the measure failed to collect enough votes. “They failed,” said Mark Daniel Snyder, communications manager, Transgender Law Center, a Bay Area non-profit that “works to change law, policy and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression.” Masen Davis, executive director of the law center, said the referendum was short by more than 17,000 signatures. Because of the failure, “all of our youth will have a fair opportunity to participate and succeed in school,” Davis said.

 

Transit Agency Makes Changes to Bus Routes

 

Last month the SFMTA approved changes to bus routes serving the Castro area. The 24 Divisadero will increase in frequency. The 22 Filmore, which passes through Church Street Station, will run along 16th and Third streets into Mission Bay. Previously, the route ended at Third and 20th streets. The 33 Stanyan, which runs along 18th Street near the Castro MUNI Station, will no longer serve Potrero Avenue. Instead, it will continue along 16th Street to Connecticut Street on Potrero Hill and stop at 20th and Third streets. Changes to the 35 Eureka are occurring south of 21st Street, but the route’s end points remain the same. No changes are being done to the 37 Corbett.

 

— Compiled by Keith Burbank

 

 

 

 

 

© 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.

Flax To Be Razed

Tony Robbins Buys Nuns a Soup Kitchen in Area

To all “friends and fans” of the Courier – a milestone!

Photo: Khaled SayedHousing Moratorium

Roxie Rocks It

This year 531 Castro St., which has been vacant since 1999, is expected to begin housing Hamburger Mary’s, a gay-friendly eatery that began in SF.

Hecho In the Castro

Milk Enshrined by the Post OfficThe unveiling of the Harvey Milk stamp drew international attention on May 22.