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The GrowSF Report: Mayor Breed asks US Attorney for help
PLUS: The Castro Theatre needs your help
What You Need To Know
Here’s what happened around the city for the week of April 3, 2023:
- Mayor Breed asks US Attorney for help
- The Castro Theatre needs your help
- Bob Lee, beloved father & entrepreneur, murdered in Rincon Hill
- Proposed conservatorship laws may get people off the streets and into treatment
- New student housing in the Tenderloin
- There’s no heat in some public schools
Mayor Breed asks US Attorney for help
San Francisco Mayor London Breed presented a letter to the new U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, Ismail J. Ramsey, asking for help from his office with the ongoing issue of the open-air drug markets.
Breed said she was most concerned about drug dealing on the streets, describing dealers as becoming increasingly aggressive with police, ambassadors, other city workers and residents, with violence and shootings surrounding “brazen open-air drug dealing scenes.”
The request for help from the federal government is necessary because San Francisco has a dire shortage of police officers, forcing hard choices about which calls take priority and which can be postponed or redirected to other city departments. To meet the European Union average of about 330 officers per 100,000 residents, San Francisco would need have about 2,500 officers. But we only have about 1,500 — so we need to hire nearly 1,000 more officers.
Our shortage of officers means collaboration with the U.S. Attorney’s office is necessary. With U.S. Attorney Ramsey’s help, we hope we can make some progress on this issue!
The Castro Theatre needs your help
After years of declining ticket sales and deferred maintenance, the Castro Theatre is in desperate need of some TLC. Another Planet Entertainment (APE), the same folks behind Outside Lands, has a $15 million plan to restore the theatre and bring new live shows to the Castro. APE’s proposed upgrades include new seats, accessible ramps, air filters & circulation, a restored original ceiling, new restrooms, adding a backstage, and terracing the floor to meet ADA laws on maximum inclines.
But the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and a few loud, angry activists are threatening to shut down the theatre entirely, believing it should stay as a rarely-used movie theatre. If they get their way, the theatre will close and fall into disrepair because the movie theater business is financially unsustainable.
Don't let the Castro Theatre become another Cine Latino, which closed and sat vacant for 30 years on Mission Street before ultimately being demolished.
Sign our petition to demand that the Board of Supervisors say YES to change, YES to upgrades, YES to fun, and YES to the Castro Theatre!
Bob Lee, beloved father & entrepreneur, murdered in Rincon Hill
Our deepest sympathies go out to Bob Lee’s family (especially his two children), friends, and loved ones. By all accounts, he was a kind and decent man.
“Bob would give you the shirt off his back,” Rick Lee [Bob’s father] wrote. “He would never look down on anyone and adhered to a strict no-judgment philosophy. Bobby worked harder than anyone and was the smartest person I have ever known.”
His murder shocked the city and kicked off a media frenzy with some people on the far-left claiming that “crime is down, actually” and the far-right claiming “SF is an apocalyptic hellhole.” But for the rest of us in the center, Bob’s murder left us feeling sad, confused, afraid, and even angry.
Let’s not politicize the tragic murder of a well-loved and well-respected man. His family and friends deserve time to grieve, and they deserve justice. The time to analyze policy changes to prevent another murder is coming, but for now we grieve.
Proposed conservatorship laws may get people off the streets and into treatment
There are two main populations of homeless people in San Francisco:
Those you don’t see, who typically just have a run a bad luck and end up temporarily on couches, shelters, or sleeping in cars, and who just need a little help to get back on their feet.
Those who are highly visible and disruptive, with substance abuse and mental health issues. For this population, just providing shelter isn’t enough — they also need wraparound services, addiction treatment, and mental health crisis intervention.
Our system works decently well for group #1, but why isn’t something done to help group #2 — people who clearly need help? Because there are laws that prevent taking people into medical custody, even when they clearly are unable to care for themselves.
The standard in current law allows someone to evade conservatorship simply by saying they have a plan to feed and shelter themselves, even if that plan is fishing food out of a dumpster and living in a box, said Dr. Emily Wood of the California State Association of Psychiatrists.
California State lawmakers are finally proposing laws that would make it easier to compel people with severe mental illness into treatment or temporary psychiatric holds. Although there are a few more hurdles before they can become law, this is a step in the right direction, and the broad, bipartisan support they’ve received thus far gives us hope. With these laws, hopefully the people who desperately need help will finally receive it.
“The laws and how they’re established now make it so difficult to help people,” [Mayor] Breed told The Chronicle. “This is not about throwing people away, locking them up and throwing away the key. This is about wanting to see people live with dignity.”
New student housing in the Tenderloin
A new 14-story “academic village” with 656 homes is opening up in the Tenderloin, bringing not just much-needed housing and 50,000 square feet of academic space, but also 8,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, a 400-seat auditorium, and more foot traffic to a neighborhood that sorely needs it.
The building, called Academe at 198, will house students from UCSF, UC Berkeley, San Francisco State University, University of San Francisco and the UC College of the Law San Francisco. The goal is to bring students who are usually siloed within their respective disciplines together to foster collaboration and the exchange of ideas.
Academe at 189 is the first of a larger plan to reimagine and redevelop the campus.
We are looking forward to seeing all of those brilliant students bring some more life back to the area!
There’s no heat in some public schools
This one is too frustrating for a pithy remark. We are failing our children and must do better. Every classroom MUST be heated.
“Sometimes it’s colder in the [classroom] than when I’m outside in the atrium,” says O’Connell 11th grader Aaliyah Hernandez. “I don’t even know how that’s possible. It just makes it so hard to focus. You’re only focused on being cold and getting warm. People bring their blankets and they fall asleep.”
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Your Action Plan
Now that you know what’s happening, help us shape what happens next:
GrowSF Happy Hour on April 11
WHEN: Tuesday, April 11 from 6-8 pm
WHERE: Orbit Room, at Market & Guerrero
Join GrowSF and our fantastic volunteers for a happy hour at Orbit Room!
Asian voters’ demands for change in SF and Vancouver
Join David Broockman, associate professor of Political Science at UC Berkeley, for a panel discussion on the rising impact Asian voters are having on change in San Francisco and Vancouver.
The panelists include the campaign manager for Vancouver’s first Chinese-Canadian mayor, Kareem Allam, Vancouver community leader Lorraine Lowe, former SF school board member Ann Hsu, and scholar Neil Malhotra.
Celebrate San Francisco
There’s a lot to love about our city and the Bay Area. Here’s what makes it great. Brought to you by The Bold Italic.
What we’re writing about
Groove Yard in Oakland: A place where vinyl has always been king
Tucked away just north of a Highway 24 overpass in North Oakland, there’s a rare, boxy survivor of those decades of CD dominance that’s been consistently satisfying the cravings of vinyl lovers the whole while: Groove Yard.
Rest in Power, Heklina
Longtime performer and drag legend Heklina has passed away. We talked to many San Francisco collaborators and friends who mourn this loss and celebrate Heklina’s life and career.
My sexual awakening happened inside The Armory
The Armory is a big brick dungeon in Mission that was once filled with sex-laden adventures, workshops, and porn films, but current plans would transform it into a two-level jazz club. The Bold Italic revisits a rope bondage class taught there in 2013.
What we’re doing this week
WHEN: April 15 - June 4, 2023
WHERE: TINT Gallery at 149 Gough St.
Finnish artist Dasha Pears is showing her first solo exhibition at the TINT Gallery at 149 Gough St. Opening April 15, the project titled “Inside Out” gives us vibes of the animated film set in San Francisco: “Each work is like a one-shot movie, depicting the reality of what's going on in the human mind.”
WHEN: April 12
WHERE: Rye cocktail bar, 688 Geary
We’re all about free savory food with our cocktails and shots. It’s “Wiener Wednesday” over at Rye, where a free hot dog comes with cocktails made with Hornitos tequila. (Probably not kosher for Passover.)
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