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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category


Local links: govt shutdown ills, new dance studio, Elmo in prison, Calder’s Big Crinkly & more

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Happy Friday to everyone! Here are some local links to take you into what we hope is a great weekend. – Sarah B.

  • How is the #govtshutdown affecting the Richmond District? Aside from places like Baker Beach and Lands End being “closed” (well at least their parking lots are…), the legendary Cliff House, which is a National Park Service concessionaire, was ordered to close. They did, but then re-opened in defiance, only to be re-ordered to close on Tuesday night. And in other killjoy news, the annual LEAP Sandcastle Contest on Ocean Beach was postponed because their permit for Ocean Beach was deemed invalid during the shutdown.
  • The new “puzzle-like” condos (6 units total) on the corner of California and 4th Avenue were featured in the October issue of San Francisco Magazine. The architect Owen Kennerly referred to the former smog station lot as a sort of “no man’s land” that challenged him. “The real question, then, Kennerly says, was “How bold do you get?” The eventual answer: pretty damn bold. “We stepped up to that threshold and went beyond it,” he says.”
  • Up for an urban adventure/scavenger hunt? Get Lost is hosting the Land’s End Street Scramble on Monday, November 11 (Veteran’s Day). Visit checkpoints in any order, and answer a simple question to prove you were there. Those who score the most are the winners! You can race for 90 minutes or 3 hours, and all levels are welcome.
  • New Century Hair Design at 6209 Geary near 26th Avenue is closing their doors after 20+ years in business. Reader Steve tells us that the business, owned by two local women, is closing down because the landlord won’t renew their lease. “Big loss for the neighborhood and the hundreds of regular clients that have been going their for years,” Steve wrote. They’ll close at the end of October.
  • There’s a new children’s dance studio in the neighborhood – Ms. Marian’s Dance Garden located at 5841 Geary (above Thom’s Natural Foods). Ms. Marian offers performance oriented classes for boys & girls age 3-18 years, at all levels. Ms. Marian recently left the Richmond District YMCA, where she created the Children’s Dance Program and led it for 12 years.
  • Remember the angry guy in an Elmo suit that was causing a ruckus at Rossi Park last year? He was recently sentenced to a year in a New York prison after pleading guilty to attempted grand larceny and misdemeanor stalking in a plot to extort $2 million from the Girl Scouts.
  • While SFMOMA is closed, the de Young is displaying Alexander Calder’s Big Crinkly sculpture/mobile in their garden. Watch it being installed in the video below. In other cross-museum news, the Legion of Honor will host a Matisse from SFMOMA exhibition starting November 9, featuring 23 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper from SFMOMA’s Matisse collection, alongside four paintings and drawings from the Fine Arts Museums’ holdings, and two works from private local collections.

5:12 am | Posted under Business, Crime, Kids, Ocean Beach, Politics, Recreation | 4 comments

Cliff House defies government shutdown and re-opens for business

We’re in day 7 of the partial government shutdown, and local residents were surprised to learn last week that the Cliff House, a legendary San Francisco reataurant and tourist attraction, was forced to close as a result. The reason is because the Cliff House is a concessionaire of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which is part of the National Park Service.

That’s a tough position to be in when you’re the Cliff House, who every day since the shutdown has been losing income and can’t pay its employees.

Clearly they reached their breaking point because today, the Inside Scoop reports that the Cliff House has decided to re-open, despite the government shutdown. In their statement, the restaurant wrote:

In response to the Federal Government shutdown the Cliff House has reached a difficult decision to reopen its doors, Monday, October 7, 2013. While this bold move challenges the shut down order the Cliff House must remain operational.

Our partners at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area have fought hard for the Cliff House to be allowed to stay open.

As a successful, independent, privately owned business that does not depend on any tax dollars or federal funding, the Cliff House must have income.

The Cliff House operates 365 days a year and employs 170 staff most of whom are furloughed. Even though the Cliff House is not open for business there are daily operating costs, which include maintenance of the iconic Cliff House building.

Having been shut down for four days the Cliff House has already assumed considerable financial loss.

Up the street is Louis Diner who despite being on federal park land, was allowed to remain open for business – because they lease the land, they’re not technically a concessionaire of the federal government.

Another federal concessionaire, the Blue Ridge Inn in Mt. Pisgah, North Carolina tried to re-open after cooperating with the shutdown initially.

The government responded by sending rangers to block the entrance to their establishment, who told approaching drivers “the government is closed”. The owner also got a letter from Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis ordering him to shut down, and that he was in violation of his contract.

Will the federal government crack down and demand that the Cliff House close again and comply with the shutdown? We’ll have to see. But in the meantime, it’s business as usual. Popovers for everyone!

UPDATE 10/9/13: After getting wind of the Cliff House’s defiance, the federal government once again ordered the restaurant to shut down on Tuesday night. The Chronicle reports that the Cliff House will remain closed for the duration of the shutdown, losing $10,000 a day in revenue and not paying their 170 employees. Read the Cliff House’s statement (PDF)

Sarah B.

11:56 am | Posted under Business, Politics | 15 comments

Feds cracking down on Hemp Center marijuana dispensary on Geary

Yesterday, SFWeekly reported that the Hemp Center, located at 4811 Geary between 12th Avenue and Funston, is the latest target of federal crackdowns on medical marijuana dispensaries in California.

The building’s landlord received a letter from U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, warning of “property seizures and prison sentences if the dispensary was not shut down”.

The Hemp Center has been in operation since 1999, and in its current Geary location for the past 11 years. It is licensed by the city’s Department of Public Health, however the medical cannabis industry is still federally illegal. Letters like the one Haag sent to the Hemp Center have closed down eight other San Francisco dispensaries since October 2011.

“The letter cites a park, 900 feet away, as the reason why the dispensary is targeted for closure,” dispensary operator Kathleen Capetti told SFWeekly.

According to state law, cannabis dispensaries cannot be within 600 feet of schools or recreation centers which serve youth. San Francisco law requires a 1,000-foot barrier between those uses, but does not specifically address city parks.

The only city park within 1,000 feet of the The Hemp Center is the Park Presidio greenbelt, which is technically a city park but not a highly recreational one. Most residents would be hard-pressed to find children playing among the greenery. The next closest park is the one behind the Richmond District Branch Library on 10th Avenue.

On its website, the Hemp Center writes, “Our experienced budtenders and state-of-the-art vaporizing equipment are only a few of the things that make The Hemp Center so unique. Our spacious club, incomparable amenities, and comfortable Caribbean atmosphere makes getting well a truly inspiring adventure.”

And that’s another unique feature of the Geary Street dispensary – they allow on-site smoking (or vaporizing at it’s also called). The Hemp Center is also the only dispensary in the Richmond or Sunset Districts (grow houses aside, ahem).

Dispensary owner Kathleen Capetti is vowing to fight the threatened closure, telling SFWeekly, “Obama promised they wouldn’t go after the clubs that are in compliance… Now they’re just going after people willy-nilly.”

What do you think? Should the dispensary be allowed to remain in business? Leave a comment to let us know.

Sarah B.

11:48 am | Posted under Business, Politics | 13 comments

Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny visits the Richmond District

A couple of readers alerted us to the presence of Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny in the neighborhood yesterday. His convoy, complete with SFPD escort, stopped off near 18th Avenue and Geary around 4pm on Thursday.

He paid a visit to the Irish Immigration Pastoral Center. According to their Facebook page, they are “a non-profit, volunteer managed organization assisting Irish immigrants in the San Francisco and the Bay Area. IIPC is committed to providing advice, information, advocacy, referral and support.”

Kenny also met with senior executives of technology companies in Silicon Valley earlier in the day.

The Taoiseach has had a busy week, including a stop in Washington, DC where he presented President Barack Obama with a bowl of shamrock at a White House reception.

Thanks to cub reporter David H. and reader LL for the tips and pics!

Sarah B.

1:44 pm | Posted under Politics | 1 comment

Supervisor Eric Mar is re-elected for another term

After a hard-fought race for District 1 Supervisor, incumbent Eric Mar came out on top last night, earning 54.0% of the vote.

Challenger David Lee received 38.5% of the vote, despite his list of impressive endorsements from the likes of Senator Dianne Feinstein and Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, and campaign funds that neared the half million mark.

Lee tweeted this to supporters towards the end of the night: “A big THANK YOU to those who helped the campaign…my staff, my wife & family, my volunteers and all the residents!”

The District 1 race set a new record for campaign “soft-money” spending. SF Appeal reported over the weekend that “there was $714,745 in third-party spending in District 1″, the most in any San Francisco district election.

SFAppeal went on to report that of that spending, “$550,806 was spent on supporting Lee or opposing Mar, and $163,939 was spent on supporting Mar or opposing Lee, according to records.”

The spending was very evident here in the neighborhood, as most residents’ doorways were papered with campaign flyers from both candidates nearly every day, and campaign workers were out in force across the neighborhood for the last week.

Sherman Dsilva, the third candidate in the race, earned 7.5% of the vote in last night’s tally. Not bad for a man who pledged to only spend $500 on his entire campaign. Dsilva fared much better in our poll here on the blog, where he earned 16% of the votes.

Mar did not post any statements on his website or social media last night about his win, but told the Chronicle, “Richmond District voters have sent a strong message that our neighborhood is not for sale,” making reference to the pace of Lee’s campaign spending which far surpassed Mar.

For more results from yesterday’s election, visit sfgate.com.

Sarah B.

9:30 am | Posted under Eric Mar, Politics | 234 comments

Poll: Who’s your top choice for District 1 Supervisor?

The election is less than a week away and we’re thrilled that readers have been busy discussing the three candidates that are running for District 1 Supervisor: David Lee, Supervisor Eric Mar, and Sherman D’Silva.

So let’s take an informal poll – rank choice voting aside – to see who you’ll be voting for next week:

Comments have been turned off for this post.

5:15 am | Posted under Politics | 1 comment

Notes from the District 1 Supervisor Debate

Earlier tonight, the Planning Association for the Richmond (PAR) and the League of Women Voters hosted a candidate forum for the District 1 Supervisor candidates Sherman Dsilva, David Lee and Supervisor Eric Mar.

The forum was held at the Richmond Recreation Center and was well attended by over 100 people. Strangely, the event was held in the small meeting room at the center instead of the main gymnasium (where last year’s mayoral debate was held). And unbelievably, no microphone was available. In case you’re keeping score already, Supervisor Mar was the best among the three candidates at projecting his voice.

The debate was moderated by Maxine Anderson, a member of the League of Women Voters. Each candidate had 1 minute to answer the questions posed by the moderator, which ranged from neighborhood specific issues like vacant storefronts and the Beach Chalet Soccer fields, to wider city issues like the 8 Washington housing project and rent control.

All three candidates have met in debates before tonight, but this was the first truly public debate that had been hosted for the election. As a result, Mar and Lee both used the occasion to clear up some misconceptions and engage in some verbal sparring.

The first question of the night was about rent control. All candidates went on record to say they support rent control, contrary to what some campaigners have been saying in the neighborhood recently. During his minute, Mar held up a flyer from Lee’s campaign, and accused Lee of unfairly attacking him on the issue. “These kinds of mailers are despicable, David,” Mar hissed.

The second question was about the public school assignment process in the city. All three candidates have young children, and both Lee and Mar have children of school age. Dsilva attended three schools here in the neighborhood – Sutro Elementary, Presidio Middle School and George Washington High.

Lee took part of his turn to defend himself against Mar’s earlier accusation, saying “I thought we weren’t going to have personal attacks tonight.”

When Mar got his turn to speak on the school issues, he mentioned that his own daughter attends a public school in the Richmond District. He then told the audience that he’d like to know why Lee’s children don’t. “Why aren’t his kids in a public school?” Mar asked.

The sparring between Mar and Lee continued into the next question about “Care Not Cash”. Lee used Mar’s word back at him, saying it was “quite despicable for our Supervisor to challenge someone’s personal choice, about where you send your child to school.”

The Beach Chalet soccer fields project was also brought up for discussion. Dsilva said he would not change the plan that has already been approved by the city. Lee was a Recreation & Parks Commissioner as the project moved through city channels, and he said he felt it was the best solution at the time. But since entering the race, he has talked to residents and heard many concerns. While Lee is still in support of the project, he acknowledged the need for further discussion. “This is a solution that doesn’t work for a lot of people. Let’s sit down and talk about compromises we can make.”

Supervisor Mar said that he had studied the Beach Chalet project “to death” and still feels that the need for more fields and playing time, along with more recreation options in the neighborhood outweighs any of the environmental and health concerns that opponents have raised about the project.

The Alexandria Theater was the subject of the next question. This was a bit of a softball for Supervisor Mar who just last Friday, held a press conference to announce the latest plans for the property.

But Lee was unimpressed by Mar’s recent actions on the project. “Every year, Mar has a press conference to announce plans and nothing happens,” Lee said.

Other topics in the debate included the Geary Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project and how to reduce the number of commercial vacancies in the neighborhood. You can hear what the candidates think about those issues in our earlier article which features their video responses to those questions.

The last hot button issue discussed was whether or not the candidates supported variable rate meter parking, as well as parking meters operating on Sundays – both proposals that the MTA has made to try and make up for revenue shortfalls.

Mar expressed concern about the “nickel and diming” of residents and emphasized the need for the MTA to explore other funding sources. But Mar never actually came out and said where he stood on the two proposals.

Neither Dsilva or Lee support Sunday meter parking, with Lee declaring “Sunday meters is antithetical to what Sundays are about.” Both Lee and Dsilva support variable rate meters, theorizing that rates could drop in lower traffic areas and turnover could be better in the busiest areas.

A question about the Ethics Commission and campaign financing led to the final episode of verbal sparring between Mar and Lee. During his minute, Mar reached behind him to pull out a handmade bar chart poster showing Lee’s alleged funding from special interests far outpacing his own.

Which led to Lee countering to Mar, “What did it cause this district to get Rose Pak’s support?”

Candidates were also asked about the 8 Washington project, which prompted one audience member to shout “Who cares?”, much to to the chagrin of organizers and the candidates.

In another question, Lee and Mar got a chance to namedrop when asked about how they would generate more stimulus funds from the federal government if they were elected. Lee took the opportunity to mention his endorsement from Dianne Feinstein and to say “Nancy Pelosi is an old friend of our family’s”.

Mar used the opportunity to stump for President Obama’s re-election, saying that was the best way to ensure that federal money would keep coming into the city. Dsilva took a more pragmatic view, saying “We can’t always rely on the federal government.”

All told, the debate lasted 50 minutes and though organizers collected questions from the audience, it was unclear if they were among the 13 questions that candidates were asked.

We did see someone videotaping the debate so if it becomes available online, we’ll be sure to let you know.

Sarah B.

11:13 pm | Posted under Politics | 181 comments

Video: Get to know your District 1 Supervisor Candidates

Last week, we met with each candidate in the District 1 Supervisor race – Sherman DSilva, David Lee and Supervisor Eric Mar – and asked each of them the same set of questions about key issues in the Richmond District.

For each question they were limited to just one minute of answer time. We’ve included the questions and their responses below.

Watch the videos to learn more about the candidates’ views on issues, and then be sure to come out to the District 1 Supervisor Candidate Forum this Wednesday night at the Richmond Recreation Center from 7pm until 8:30pm.

Sarah B.

Q1: Among city neighborhoods, the Richmond District has the highest vacancy rate among commercial, storefront properties. If elected Supervisor, tell us in detail what you would do to bring new businesses into the neighborhood.




Q2: In the last few years, dozens of lawsuits – which some might call frivolous – have been filed against Richmond District businesses for Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) violations, resulting in many businesses closing, relocating or spending thousands of dollars on upgrades. As Supervisor, tell us in detail what you would do to prevent more businesses from being sued.




Q3: The Geary Bus Rapid Transit prpject is coming to the Richmond District. Tell us whether you are in favor of or against BRT and why, as well as what you will do as Supervisor to affect the project.




Q4: As a neighborhood Supervisor, you serve two masters so to speak – the city at large, and your own neighborhood constituents. If elected Supervisor, tell us how you would prioritize neighborhood-specific issues versus those of the city.




Q5: Tell us 5 words that communicate why you should be elected the next Supervisor of the Richmond District.




5:12 am | Posted under Politics | 8 comments