Police roust campers from Alexandria Theater lot. Will the city step up?

A police officer talks to one of the campers in the Alexandria parking lot on Tuesday. Photo by David H.

On Tuesday, police were called to the Alexandria Theater parking lot on 18th Avenue after campers were spotted.

Police talked to the campers who were advised to move on and not return.

Neighbor David H. called in the incident to police. He makes a habit of walking by the theater every day to check for homeless, graffiti and other new damage to the building.

The Alexandria Theater building has been under closer scrutiny recently after a break-in through a smashed glass door on the front of the building.

The building continues to be a source of neighborhood blight with graffiti, a decaying exterior, broken glass and trash. Residents are encouraged to call 311 to report trash and graffiti, and the non-emergency SFPD line at 553-0123 if they see campers.

Last week, Nick Pagoulatos, an aide from Supervisor Eric Mar’s office, left a comment on the Alexandria break-in story, saying “the ongoing neglect of the Alexandria Theater is one of the biggest concerns for Supervisor Mar”. Pagoulatos also detailed the shortcomings of the buildings’ owners, saying “they have not followed through on these commitments” including one to “maintain the property in a clean and secure condition”.

Pagoulatos went on to say that “our office has spent many, many hours over the past few years engaging with the owners of the property, potential tenants, potential alternative developers, the Mayor’s office and City enforcement agencies.”

Follow-up commenters were not too impressed with the update from Mar’s office, urging the Supervisor to take swift and strong action against the owners for their ongoing neglect.

“”Urging” them to maintain the property is clearly not sufficient. There must be enforcement action,” wrote reader Jean B.

The Planning Association for the Richmond (PAR) has begun pursuing legal actions against the theater’s owners. PAR has requested that the Zoning Administrator for the City, Scott Sanchez, call a hearing on whether the the owners of the Alexandria have violated the conditions of their entitlement. If the owners are in violation, the value of their property could decrease significantly.

Pagoulatos is urging residents with complaints about the Alexandria’s condition to send their comments to Scott Sanchez of the Planning Department at scott.sanchez@sfgov.org. Sanchez is gathering public comments and will make a decision about whether to pass the matter onto the enforcement division of the Planning Department.

Ironically, Supervisor Eric Mar can’t weigh in on the Planning Department’s actions. “The Supervisor cannot take a position on this matter, as it could subsequently be appealed to the Board of Supervisors,” Pagoulatos wrote.

Really, we couldn’t make this stuff up if we tried.

Let’s hope the momentum to reform the Alexandria Theater owners continues and we see some real improvements. It’s been ten years of graffiti, neglect and apathy – enough already.

Sarah B.

A police cruiser outside the Alexandria on Tuesday. Photo by David H.


  1. “one of the biggest concerns for Supervisor Mar” – really Nick? I thought it was for fund raising to run for higher office? Can he post a twit next time?

  2. I’ve always wondered about the theater but was never inspired enough to see what was going on with the place. It’s hideous and sticks out like a sore thumb.

  3. Ah so Nick replaced Peter L and is now the official mouthpiece for Marr. I guess Peter L got another job within the City family.

    His comment about Marr not getting involved in this issue because of conflict of interest is downright laughable. What about the Happy meal legislation and the soda ban/taxpayer rip off scheme that he is now pushing through? Isn’t that a “conflict of interest” too since he will be/did voting on it in the board?

    It appears he only wants to help out if there’s something in it for him. I guess we should do an Ed Jew and grease his palms in order for him to actually do something. Buying him a coffee at “Meet Eric” isn’t cutting it folks!

  4. While the police are out and about, perhaps they can move along the large number of campers on Park Presidio Blvd these days. Their numbers have increased significantly.

  5. Is it possible – within municipal code – to take this building in a public domain effort? I strongly encourage such an action. If not, then the most punitive fines possible should be levied against the outrageous neglect and harm to our community caused by the truly negligent owners of this property. In fact, given the reduction of value of properties adjacent to the outrage called the Alexandria Theater, I fully support a civil lawsuit against these owners for negligence that has resulted in financial loss to the neighborhood; individual property owners, and San Francisco proper (lost sales and other commercial taxes. I would also hope that civil action against these negligent owners details “actual fraud”, which is far easier to prosecute that fully-blown fraud. It would not be difficult to determine real damages done to our neighborhood and our city by the owner of this structure. In fact, this owner has performed its actions with malice – KNOWING that the harm being done to our neighborhood by this derelict structure. That means damages could easily be made punitive, and a big payday for the city. This owner has promised to do things and led the city and its citizens on in a way that has caused financial harm!

    SUE the owner of the Alexandria Theater – and furthermore, make their name(s) public via the public record! These people need to be publicly shamed. Their neighbors need to know who they are. If I had the time to file a legal claim against these scofflaws, I would do it myself. The owner of this property needs to be severely punished, financially, and made an example of.

  6. Although they need to clean up the vandalism and such. However, I am curious, did the City ever approve the reno/development of the theater? Additionally, knowing how long it takes to get studies and permits completed, have these been done? I know that the remodel for the Safeway on La Playa is still tied up in reviews and potential appeals.

  7. @Mel Yes, as Al Vin stated, the plans were approved, but it was supposed to take at least a year to begin construction. Not long ago, however, I heard that the owners were trying to sell the property. Is that true – anyone?

    If it IS true, there should be severe financial penalties levied on the negligent scofflaws that own the property. Consider the time devoted by citizens, planning dept, City Supes, etc. etc. in getting this scofflaw owner to fix that property.

  8. I have heard a lot of people in the Richmond complain about the theater. I also understand that the theater was in fact making a profit. UA just figured out that they could make more by shutting it down and forcing people to go to the big multiplex, not to mention the capital gain on selling the property.

    I would like to see a movement by the Board of Supervisors to place an initiative on the ballot that would create a Richmond District special tax district. A tax on property owners, that can be passed on to renters, that would fund the eminent domain of the property, the restoration of the theater, and enough money to set up a not-for-profit foundation to run it and maintain it in perpetuity. The tax would be reduced once the place was redone to fund the long term maintenance and costs beyond what the theater generated.

    This would allow the Richmond District folks to put their money where their mouth is. If they want their children and grandchildren to experience watching movies the way they were meant to be, then let them pay for it. If not, then demolish it.


  9. @phil I found it for sale on a Chinese real estate website for $12M, as an ‘already approved project.’ Basically a high-concept ‘flip.’

  10. I can’t read Chinese, but this looks to be fairly recent.


    As I have mentioned before, I believe there was some connection with this project to a corrupt permit expediter at the Planning Department, on this project. Even funnier that this is who Nick suggests we contact, in this context.

  11. The above link didn’t post because it has Chinese characters. Just google “frank top 10 list san francisco alexandria” and it’s your top result.

  12. @JD – I would like the city to pass an initiative for supervisors to actually do their job, and to pay penalty per day when they do not. Alexandria is not a neighborhood project, it is a neighborhood eyesore. It is already costing us all in property values, quality of live and many other tangibles and intangibles. I do not give a hoot whether Alexandria was profitable in the last century; I do however care that we have a stinking ( literally) ruin smack in the middle of the major street. Personally I do not care for a movie theater as such ; I prefer TV and opera, but if anyone wants to pay to restore Alexandra to its former movie glory out of their personal pockets be my guest , as long as you do it now and expeditiously. I for one would be happy enough if it was gone, with some details of ‘historic’ interior donated to the Museum of SF or the like.

    Can we ( neighbors) actually sue the owners? Or the city? 🙂

  13. It seems clear that the City lacks the means to compel the owners of this teardown (the former Alexandria) to abide by the conditions of the permit to develop the property, ie: clean up the graffiti, keep it safe, don’t allow it to become a blight on the neighborhood. Eminent Domain!! Seize it. And then sell it to a reputable developer. Of course, this is an example of property owner rights vs. community rights, and that debate is far from over.

  14. Thank you neighbor David N. You are a million percent more effective than the City Family.

  15. Supervisor Mar’s staff reads this bulletin board.

    Note: Dear staff (Scott), can you tell us what the status of the Alexandria is? Is it for sale? If not, when is construction slated to start?

  16. Incidentally, here is the information for Alexandria Enterprises LLP, all the pro forma information is publicly available via this link, including the age of the LLP, Principals, etc.

    @ALY Yes, ALY, ANYONE whose property or neighborhood has been compromised by this outrage can sue the Principals of the LLC
    Here is a publicly available link to the Principals of the LLC; they are the ones that would be named in a lawsuit, including unnamed “John Does” that may be sheltered by the LLC.

    In my opinion, the Principals should be sued for negligence for the damage they have done over years to property values in the neighborhood, as well as the health dangers posed by the site due to their neglect. The owners have known about this, and they have ignored it.

    Last, eminent domain is complex, but I think Supervisor Mar should being it up among the Supes for this site. Enough is enough. I understand that Mr. Mar might get taken to task politically for suggesting that this eyesore be looked into as a target for public domain, but he IS representing this district, and I’ll bet there is not one person in the District who is aware of this eyesore that would approve of the neglect and negligence displayed by the owners.

  17. in 2010 dbi deemed theatre vacant and subject to the new at the time blight ordinsnce.Still no fines or enforcement 3 years later. Why?

  18. 2004 – Alexandria Closed…. 2014 – Still Closed…. 2024 – Probably Still Closed…..2034 I’ll move.

  19. @JD Why in the world should residents pay for the upkeep of private property – property that stands to reap a huge profit should a real estate investor rebuild? Another tax, on the backs of property owners is not a solution to this issue. Also stop with the non-profit give aways. This junk sits on top of valuable land. Why should we use tax dollars to support another useless non-profit?

    The City is equipped to deal with these bums. I seem to recall reading about how residential property owners are required to clean up graffiti in their properties within a certain time frame or else the City will send the staff over to clean it up resulting in a lien placed on the property.

    With some many violations, why doesn’t the City attach a lien to the property. A daily penalty will get these bozos to clean up their act.

  20. Hi there, Katie Utehs with KTVU. I’m working on a story regarding this issue. If anyone would like to speak out regarding the Alexandria Theater please shoot me an email so we can connect: katie.utehs@ktvu.com

  21. @ Katie Utehs Could you please comment on on of these blog posts, when the program is to air?

  22. I suggested that IF the people in the Richmond wanted a unique recreational resource that they could buy it and set it up to run as a not for profit venture.

    The Stanford theater in Palo Alto was scheduled to be torn down when David Packard through his foundation purchased it, restored it, and set it up as a recreational not-for-profit. The people of the Richmond could do just the same things. A bunch of little annual endowments vs. a rich guy and one big one.

    In San Francisco we have spent far more money on acres and acres of parkland that gets visited by very few people. I for one would like to see more emphasis on local neighborhood unique recreational venues. As a child the social aspect of going with friends to a large elaborate palace to watch a movie I think was a good thing.

    If the people in the Richmond District wanted to do such a thing, then why the vitriol people?

    If the site is bull dozed what will go in its place. A bunch of condo’s that only the top 5% can afford and ground floor retail that will have such high business lease costs that only more restaurants can afford it. Just what the Geary strip needs more restaurants and more empty space for lease for years on end.

    I pay for many things I do not use in this town, but because the good people of this city have decided that they want those things I pay. I think saving the building as a theater and a business generator in its own right can be a very good thing for the central Richmond.

    However, if people do not care then by all means tear it down and end up with more uninspired development.

  23. @JD David Woodley Packard spent a small fortune renovating the Stanford; he runs that theater with a personal touch. He is also a huge film restoration contributor

    Packard also restored the California Theater in San Jose – it has the same early 20th Century American film programming that the Stanford does, and shares the space with the San Jose Opera.

    I have long experience visiting both spaces, but San Francisco is a different venue than Palo Alto or San Jose. It took the personal passion and significant investment of one man (Packard) to make the Stanford and California Theaters come back. I don’t think that kind of thing is possible in the Richmond unless we found a serious donor who was determined to weather early multiple-year losses to build a film venue brand. We already have the wonderful Balboa Theater and the funky – but equally wonderful – 4 Star Theater. I don’t see people flocking to the Balboa and 4 Star.

    There was probably a time when the Alexandria could have been restored to its full glory and been maintained as a keynote film space. I don’t think that’s possible any more. Rather, the 200-seat proposed theater along with housing and mixed retail seems more likely. Frankly, I would like to see policy made that compels ALL future housing built in San Francisco to be “affordable” housing. I doubt that will happen, because developers and most local politicians are so very cozy these days.

    I agree that the condos there will probably cost a lot, and the retail space will cost a lot, too. The winds of develpment, gentrification, and change are blowing toward the west side of the city. I’m already getting nostalgic for the San Francisco I love – it’s fading fast, to become a one-dimensional upper-middle-class haven. I have nothing against the upper-middle-class, but when a city loses dynamic diversity, it fails at the one thing that urban spaces thrive on and become interesting for – *community*! You don’t build community if all the people who make the city run – the teachers, plumbers, hotel workers, public security personnel, etc. etc. have to commute in. It’s no longer *their* city; it’s a place to work for “the man”. This city will always have unreal physical beauty. True community, the thing that made this city TRULY great, is fast fading away.

    Our policy makers have been too little, too late in building affordable middle class housing. San Francisco is, sadly, no longer a middle class city; it’s an upper-middle-class city – and it’s going to get even *more* pricey.

    All that said, the only thing that is going to save the Alexandria is to put the hammer down re: the current ownership – meaning an eminent domain takeover by the city (very difficult) or serious fines that REALLY hurt the current owner’s pocketbook (possible, and something that I hope will happen – but it won’t happen unless Mr. Mar and/or other Supes push for it. Will they? Will they risk the ire of developers and commercial landlords who contribute to their campaigns – or threaten to contribute to competing campaigns if various Supes don’t vote their way? We’ll see.

    Oh, yeah, forget about getting any help from Ed Lee. Hopefully, he’s out come next election; he’s a big money pawn (always has been), and is easily the weakest Mayor in my living memory.

  24. I’ve been speaking to some attorneys about action that could be taken against the owners of the Alexandria. They suggested that individuals file claims in Small Claims Court alleging nuisance, asking for the maximum allowable damages. (It may be as much as $10,000). The best people to file these cases are local merchants and people who live close to the Alexandria. It doesn’t cost much to file a complaint in Small Claims Court (Polk/McAllister), and it could get the owner’s attention. Here’s some information: http://www.sfsuperiorcourt.org/divisions/small-claims There’s a great help office called the ACCESS Center in the courthouse: http://www.sfsuperiorcourt.org/self-help

  25. @Bennett – The Katie Utehs story on KTVU will air this evening, Friday, during the 5pm news show.

    Sarah B.

  26. Update: Reporter Katie Utehs says she got pulled onto a breaking news story so the Alexandria story won’t air tonight after all. We’ll keep you posted on when.

    Sarah B.

  27. @phil (#26): Beautifully said. The details in your post are very sad, aren’t they?

  28. @Administrator Thanks for the update, as I was watching the 10pm broadcast right now, just to see if maybe it got pushed.

  29. @Bennett et al – The story on the Alexandria Theater will air tonight on the 5pm edition of KTVU News Ch. 2 / 702

    Sarah B.

  30. From the KTVU report:
    “Planning Department officials and Supervisor Eric Mar are scheduled to walk through on May 19th. If there’s damage to the Art Deco Egyptian inspired murals and other historical features the city could revoke valuable permits”

    So in all the years mar has been in office he’s just NOW going to do a walk through??

  31. @ Derek I know, it’s insane. All I can say is he better find a way to revoke those permits.

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