• • • November 2017 News Briefs • • •
Congratulations to a Decade
As the voice of families, friends, seniors, visitors, and those in-between homes, the Courier represents a rainbow of people who connect with Castro. The first issue arrived March 2007 from founder Andy Sywak, a local journalist, and editor Ted Andersen.
Current publisher and owner Mitch Bull took the mantle in 2010 and continued the tradition of the neighborhood “rag.” This July saw the editorial gavel pass from Andersen to Tony Taylor, a freelance reporter who is grounded in the local media scene.
Castro Courier is a member of the San Francisco Neighborhood Newspaper Association, a consortium of 14 neighborhood newspapers that have been covering the hyper-local news in SF for over 30 years.
Cheers to another ten years!
• • • October 2017 News Briefs • • •
6 Below Market Rate (BMR) Rental Apartments Available
570 Jessie Street, San Francisco CA 94103
4 Studios at $1063 a month; 2 One Bedrooms at $1,214 a month.
Three parking spaces available to BMR renters for an additional $100 a month and will be offered to households in lottery rank order. Must be income eligible and must not own a home.
Households must earn no more than the maximum income levels below:
55% of Area Median Income
One person - $44,400; 2 persons - $50,750; 3 persons - $57,050; 4 persons - $63,400;
5 persons- $68,500
Applications must be received by 5pm on October 30, 2017. Postmarks will not be considered. Apply online through DAHLIA, the SF Housing Portal at https://housing.sfgov.org or mail in a paper application with a self-addressed stamped envelope to ٥٧٠ Jessie BMR, P.O. Box ٤٢٠٨٤٧, San Francisco, CA ٩٤١٤٢. Paper applications can be downloaded from https://housing.sfgov.org or picked up from one of the housing counseling agencies listed at https://housing.sfgov.org/housing-counselors. Please contact the 570 Jessie leasing team for more information at (415) 752-5700 or email@example.com.
Units available through the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development and are subject to monitoring and other restrictions. Visit www.sfmohcd.org for program information.
• • • July 2017 News Briefs • • •
A note from the Publisher:
As you read this month’s Castro Courier, you may notice that we have a few different names in the staff box. Long time editor Ted Andersen and copy editor Alexandra Kostoulas have moved on from the Courier to a new endeavor (expectant parents to be). I want to take a moment to thank them for the all of the late nights and hardwork they contributed to make the Courier a success (and my job easier) over the past six years I have owned the newspaper.
I welcome new editor Tony Taylor and layout “genius” Veronica Casson, and look forward to continuing the efforts of our writers and staff members to bring the “comings and goings” and vitality of the neighborhood to your doorstep with each issue.
Enjoy! — Mitch Bull, publisher
Remember when it was still legal to be naked in the Castro? Well, times haven’t changed as much as you might think. In practice, that is. As part of the Summer of Love anniversary celebration — not to mention an ongoing protest against former District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener — nudists gather at Jane Warner Plaza before marching to Haight-Ashbury on Saturday, May 20, 2017.
Photo: Jessica Webb
‘Hot Cop’ Faces May Court Date
“Hot Cop” Chris Kohrs after taking an ice bucket for ALS research in 2014.
The legal troubles for San Francisco police officer Chris Kohrs, dubbed the “Hot Cop of the Castro” for his toned and muscular body, have partially been resolved in civil court, but he continues to face two felonious criminal charges filed by the Office of the District Attorney.
After photos circulated virally on social media of Kohrs in uniform and on duty patrolling the Castro during the renovation and expansion of the sidewalks in the heart of the LGBT business district, he enjoyed the adulation of men and women from literally around the world. His good looks, charm and low-key friendly personality brought him many fans and tremendous press attention.
Much of the positive feelings he engendered for himself evaporated late one night on Nov. 29, 2015, when he was responsible for driving a Dodge Charger that struck two male pedestrians as they crossed an intersection in North Beach. The victims, Victor Perez and Franco Vilches, were grievously hurt and taken to the hospital for medical attention. Both received extensive injuries requiring many months of rehab and trauma after-care.
Kohrs fled the scene of the accident on foot and nearby security cameras captured the collision and Kohrs fleeing. The two passengers in Kohrs’ vehicle remained at the crime scene. Local media reports at the time said Kohrs eluded arrest for 12 hours, and by the time he surrendered to the San Francisco Police Department and was in custody, it was too late to test his blood for alcohol content. He thus avoided a potential driving under the influence charge.
According to public records posted at the San Francisco Superior Court’s web site, Perez brought a civil lawsuit against Kohrs and the City. Documents reveal Perez and his attorneys withdrew the suit in March but all details of the settlement have been withheld from the public. Emails to Kohrs’ attorneys seeking comment didn’t generate a response.
Regarding the other injured victim, the court’s site contains no record of Vilches or lawyers on his behalf filing a lawsuit.
Kohrs must still contend with the two felony hit-and-run criminal charges filed by DA George Gascon, one for failing to immediately stop his vehicle as the victims crossed the street and another for leaving the scene of an accident.
“The next court date in the Kohrs matter is set for May 12, 2017, for a continuation of the preliminary hearing,” Nikesh Patel, a spokesman for the district attorney, told the Castro Courier in an email.
At the time of the 2015 crash, Kohrs had been on the police force for seven years and was on medical leave.
The Castro Courier asked Lt. Kathryn Waaland of the SFPD’s legal division about the current employment status with the agency and she replied that “Officer Kohrs is a member of the department and is out on leave.”
Sniffing for treats and attention, pooches of all breeds walked freely throughout Duboce Park on April 22 as part of DogFest 2017. The event, a fundraiser benefitting SFUSD McKinley Elementary School, included a red-carpet dog show competition and games for kids. Photo: Jessica Webb
• • • Apr 2017 News Briefs • • •
Perfectly Queer reading series celebrates National Poetry Month
Poet Natasha Dennerstein is the guest curator and Cameron Awkward-Rich, Denise Benavides, Julian Shendelman, and James J. Siegel and Natasha herself will read from their latest poetry collections. Be sure to join us Monday, April 10, 7 p.m. at Dog Eared Books, located at 489 Castro St. Free admission, door prizes, and free refreshments.
Duboce Triangle bar to be replaced
The Duboce Triangle bar The Residence will soon close and reopen under new ownership. According to Hoodline, taking over will be Justin Lew and Ian Scalzo, who opened up Horsefeather at 528 Divisadero St. a year ago. The location at 718 14th St. has changed from the Zodiac Club to Amber to The Residence.
There are no details yet on concept of the new bar.
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ moves to Fridays, causing headaches for gay bars
RuPaul’s Drag Race has returned for its ninth season, but has flipped the script on the night.
The popular reality competition show, which recently won an Emmy, has switched its time slot from 9 p.m. Mondays to 8 p.m. Fridays—stirring the pot for gay bars and customers who’d become used to starting the week by watching their favorite drag queens compete for a crown.
Some gay bars have reportedly complained about a business slowdown on Mondays. But some regular viewers are happy with the change.
If you want to catch RuPaul in her new time slot these bars typically air the show:v
• Lookout (3600 16th St.): Hosted by Carnie Asada; no cover listed.
• SF Oasis (298 11th St.): Hosted by Honey Mahogany and Sister Roma; $3 pre-sale (plus processing fees).
• Beaux (2344 Market St.): No cover.
• The Café (2369 Market St.): Hosted by Mahlae Balenciaga; no cover.
• The Mix (4086 18th St.): Typically shows episodes on its TVs.
Midnight Sun (4067 18th St.): Will show episodes the following Mondays.
Former executive director leaves post after 34 years
Positive Resource Center (PRC), a San Francisco-based nonprofit whose mission is to assist people living with HIV/AIDS or mental health disabilities, recently announced the retirement of Jonathan Vernick as executive director of Baker Places, Inc.
Vernick, who has been with Baker Places for 34 years, stepped down at the end of March. He was originally slated to retire on October 31, 2016, but extended his stay to ensure all the requirements of the merger were fulfilled.
Vernick began working for Baker Places in 1983 and was responsible for developing San Francisco’s first dually diagnosed residential treatment programs focused on individuals with both mental health and substance use problems. Vernick initiated the creation of residential programs for people with HIV/AIDS in combination with addiction and mental health issues. Additionally, he worked with the Department of Public Health to create the first community-based medical detox program in California.
The not-for-profit Positive Resource Center, established in 1987, is the only place in San Francisco for people living with HIV/AIDS or mental health disabilities to receive comprehensive benefits counseling and employment services.
Founded in 1964, Baker Places, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that provides a comprehensive array of services to people with mental health, substance abuse and HIV/AIDS-related issues. Baker Places assists individuals in learning and regaining the skills needed to live their lives fully and productively in the community.
The Green Film Festival 2017, April 20-26 at the Castro Theatre
The Green Film Fest brings us the most compelling environmental films from around the world, including 11 world premieres. One third of the films are made by women, and a third of the films come from Bay Area filmmakers.
Opening night premiers “Gasland” by Josh Fox, who continues his investigation of climate change in his deeply personal style. Fox’s fight to protect his home from oil and gas companies leads him to the banks of the Amazon, the island of Vanuatu, Samoa and the PRC.
Opening night reception at the Castro Mezzanine offers and opportunity to meet festival filmmakers and special quests. Separate tickets are required. 6 p.m., April 20.
For more information, see http://www.greenfilmfest.org/2017greenfilmfest
Caitlyn Jenner’s Castro Theatre appearance moved
Caitlyn Jenner, who recently reprimanding the Trump administration for its anti-trans efforts, has announced a book tour to promote her new memoir, “The Secrets of My Life.”
The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco will host her on May 3 to the Mark Hopkins Hotel, Peacock Court, 999 California St. Check-in begins at 6 p.m. with the program starting at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $18 to $85.
Jenner will be in conversation with Buzz Bissinger, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and Jenner’s memoir co-author. The program outlines the event as a “rare conversation with one of the world’s most prominent transgender women.”
Jenner has called out President Trump via social media, attacking his decision to lift federal protections for transgender student bathroom use.
Jenner previously had a speaking tour planned for early 2016, but it was canceled. Her stepdaughter, Kim Kardashian West, appeared at a Commonwealth Club event in 2015, where she discussed Jenner’s transition.
The 60th San Francisco Film Festival, April 5-16
The SF Film Festival returns for its 60th anniversary party. Opening night at the Castro Theatre will feature the film “Landland,” Gillian Robespierre’s (Obvious Child, Festival 2014) second feature. The film captures a dysfunctional family that grows closer when buried infidelities come to the surface. The good humor with a neurotic edge. Jenny Slate, Edie Falco, John Turturro, Jay Duplass, and Abie Quinn make up the cast in the film.
SFFILM is celebrating its 60th anniversary with a private invite-only gala April 7 at The Forum in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The festival includes 200 films and awards and $40,000 in cash prizes.
Homeless Barricades Removed in Castro
Fix-It Team SF, an organization created by Mayor Ed Lee to address quality-of-life concerns in San Francisco, is taking harsh measures against homelessness in the Castro. Last month, they went so far as to put up metal barricades to deter people from sitting and setting up tents along the sidewalks.
Barricades were placed on Prosper Street mid-February, next to the Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Library. They were also set up on 16th Street, alongside the “Hope for the World Cure” mural. Both areas are largely occupied by homeless individuals and street youth.
But the barricades didn’t stay up for long.
On February 24th, Hoodline reported that the barricades were not compliant with the American with Disabilities Act. According to ADA regulations, sidewalks must meet a width requirement in order to be compliant. Even when a sidewalk is blocked for temporary construction, it has to be a certain width, have a special permit, or be marked as “closed.”
Hoodline reported that the distance between Prosper Street’s barricades and trees was only one foot, when in fact the sidewalk needed to be at least three feet wide, and cleared of obstructions, to be compliant.
Several neighbors voiced their concern about the matter.
“Let’s just force the disabled off of the sidewalks and into the streets,” one citizen commented. “Thank you Fix It Team. Job well done. What’s next on your list?”
According to Sandra Zuniga, director of Fix-It Team SF, the aim of the organization is to identify immediate problems that can be addressed and work collaboratively with other city departments to prioritize positive outcomes for neighborhoods. Using the barricades as a “quick fix” to a long-term problem did not turn out to be a viable option.
Another resident shared a more personal viewpoint in his comment.
“As a disabled person, can you please also require transients not to sprawl themselves and their belongings across the sidewalk, and not to set up tents that take up most of the sidewalk? With the little mobility I have left, navigating past a barricade is one thing; navigating past human limbs, shopping carts, tents, etc. is a near impossible hurdle. Or doesn’t the city care?”
Rachel Gordon, the spokesperson for SF Public Works, stated that ADA compliance is a priority and that crews would be dispatched to resolve the issue once it had been brought to their attention. By Sunday, February 26, the barricades had all been removed.
Historical Catholic School Near Castro To Close This Summer
Come June, a historic Catholic school in the Mission will close its doors. Father John Jimenez, pastor and director of St. Charles Borromeo School in San Francisco, and the Archdiocese of San Francisco have notified parents and faculty that the K-8 elementary school will suspend operations at the end of the current school year.
St. Charles Borromeo School, located on Mission Street between South Van Ness and Shotwell, was founded in 1888, in the four classrooms downstairs from the church, which occupied the upper floor of the current building. When the new church was built in 1929, the upper floor was remodeled into the current floor plan. The school was staffed by Holy Cross Sisters from 1888 to 1979, by Dominican Sisters of the Philippines from 1979 to 1982, and by Dominican Sister of the Most Holy Rosary of the Philippines from 1982 to the present, along with dedicated lay teachers.
According to Mike Brown, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the suspension is due to low enrollment and an expensive construction budget that has not been met for a seismic retrofitting project.
“There has been a declining enrollment over a number of years,” Brown told the Courier. “We are down to 81 students, which doesn’t make for a good learning environment.”
Enrollment at the 129-year-old school has declined by almost half over the past three years. St. Charles serves many immigrant and low-income students. The decline may be connected to the changing demographic of the neighborhood. The 130-year-old school building also faces imminent construction and seismic challenges. The Archdiocese said that these expensive improvements must be addressed in the very near future.
“The goal is to work together with the community to increase enrollment and reopen,” Brown said. “It is a suspension - not a closure - it was designed to be a school and that’s what it will be.”
The most immediate task at hand is to assist all current K-7 students in registering at nearby Catholic schools for the fall semester. The Archdiocese is committing the tuition assistance necessary for students to make the transition and continue their education at another Catholic school.
A homeless encampment across the street from the public library in the Castro spurred Mayor Ed Lee’s Fix-It Team to erect a barricade in mid-February.
• • • February 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 firstname.lastname@example.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
The unveiling of the Harvey Milk stamp drew international attention on May 22.
Milk Enshrined by the Post Office
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.
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.
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© Castro Courier 2018