Friday, January 15, 2010

St. Luke's. Land and Hookers, Shame Shame Shame....

St Luke's hospital in the mission has been closing for years. Honestly it was the worst run hospital I have even been to. My friend Jason and I were left to rot till I went over to General and the wait was actually shorter. Now I think I understand why. The plan was to let this hospital; that is one of 2 South of Market hospitals; rot into the ground and build a new one in the TL. The same TL that is having problems with the gluttonous land absorbsion and alleged near slum lord tendencies of the AAU. So I ask you when 150 SRO's are taken out of the Tenderloin and now Sutter Health is vacating 11 more where are these people going? Where do we imagine they go. To another SRO? Exactly where is that SRO going to be since we have lost 160 or more recently; and as far as I know land developers are not exactly jumping at the chance to build a home for poor or elderly poor, or any other low income folk. So are we saying they have less rights than people who can afford to live here? With affordable housing driven out of the TL where are my friends to live?
Having lived for 2 years in an SRO after arriving to San Francisco perhaps people don't quite understand what it is like. For $450 a month in the late 90's dot com boom era I got a room on California Street with a shower. It was awesome. I had no cooking facilities so I got a hot plate from a friend and ate a lot of ramen noodles and fresh produce from Project Open Hands pantry. See I was also going to Beauty School at Miss Marty's school of Beauty. I wasn't working, my GA was all the money I had and that was $400 a month. Catholic Cheraties had to take my case on and pay my rent and subsidize my income, so I was left with $200 a month to live on. In San Francisco. During the Dot Com Boom. It was only by the help I received from community organizations at that time that kept me alive and healthy and able to make something out of myself. They are the reasons I could succeed in life.
What I learned while living in this SRO is that there are many people who need help in the most desperate ways. People who can't bathe themselves and think for themselves but there is no place to go for them. One time in line at general I saw a man covered in his own feces who had very obvious mental disorders and the staff person told me terminal cancer. This is what is out there and the fact that by closing St Luke's the city gets rid of beds for these people. Plus there are no care facilities with bed to help the mentally ilL who are unable to care for them selves! Downsizing St Luke's removes over 70 acute bed care options as well as eliminating 81 psychiatric beds. Just what the Mission and SF General need in that area. Imagine what we get to see our next visit to General or on a street near you. This is not how housing and care should be dealt with in our city. Land development needs to consider the people who are already living in a community and what their needs are first.
While I was at City hall the other day I was listening to the Native Americans talk about how this was their land and they are not recognized. I thought it just happens over and over again. The people with enough money to silence and discriminate so often reap the rewards. This is still happening at such a quick rate in San Francisco frightens me. I am afraid because so many people seem asleep at the wheel. Grass roots organizing was changing and is changing things but without effort by the communities themselves our cares go without voice. There have been many mayors in this city in a row that run things as they wished and favored business and gentrification. It has changed our beautiful liberal city into a Manhatten Jr. I don't want our city to be owned by Disney with pretty fake atmosphere and botiques only. I want the trannies and the freaks to stay in this city if they want and to be able to find housing. This city should work to become the producer of more success stories like myself. Only through dignity and offering care where it is really needed can we keep this city vibrant for all people.
It's not just land use either. The Polk Street Merchant organizations with Police Chief Gascone and Kamala Harris have decided the Polk is unsafe. They state that the THOUSANDS of trannie hookers, male hookers and a "new influx of hookers from out of town" are making it unsafe to live on Polk. Poor little Johnny is getting stabbed by needles on his way to school and pimps are killing each other every day. First off these are lies. Lies to cover the mass gentrification ideas that the city has for the polk. The Polk is 300 times more white washed and suburban that when I first arrived in San Francisco. You know what is gone from the Polk? Gays. The gay businesses have been snuffed out on purpose because of the beliefe that we are degenerates and ruin the neighborhood. Gay businesses have been blackballed from re opening. In fact one Polk Merchants Association leader thanked the ABC and Entertainment Commission for coming to the aid of a condo owner who lived next to a noist bar and looks forward to working with them again in future such cases.
Gascone and the Merchants association believe shame is the best way to do this. First keep you camera ready because they are asking YOU to take pictures of suspicious characters and turn those pictures into the police. Thats right BIG Brother is here to clean up the Polk. Also pictures of men who use prostitutes will be plastered about the city to shame them into not partaking in the night time trade.
As a gay man I have been shamed, photographed and put in a hospital for the mental disorder called being gay. None of these have worked. I am a very rebellious and angry citizen because of it. I am living proof that shame does not work. Instead of shame shouldn't we give these people, because they are people after all lets not forget; a place to live that they can afford so that like myself they can become another success story for our city. Stop the shame and stop the destruction of affordable housing! There are 2 ways to make the city livable for everyone. To the lady on the Polk Merchants association who said its a women's issue because god knows what these men bring home after tricking; I say this; where is your heart and compassion. Until we offer dignity to the "undesirable" you desirables will not be able to find it for yourself. Personally Kamala, Gascone and the Polk Merchants I don't know how you can sleep at night. That bed of shame money must be pretty darn soft.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Academy of Art and the Good Neighbor argument

Yesterday at the Land Use and Economic Development meeting I saw what was the start of an investigation into the housing practices of the AAU. Last week the Chronicle talked about how this business was really in the business of slum lord ship and in violation of several building codes. I believe the outstanding code violations number 34. Several of these 34 codes are what are known as life codes; or codes that endanger human life. The other problem this giant land owner has that in a disproportionate amount of the buildings being used as dorms are actually rent controlled buildings or former SROs.
Lets start with the SRO buildings. The impact on one hundred and fifty units of SRO housing have been taken off the market by a company that grosses somewhere just over a billion a year. Many advocate groups lobbied David Chiu, Eric Mar, and Sophie Maxwell about the huge impact the loss of that many SRO units were lost. When a company buys a residence hotel and displaces the poorest environs in a city where do they go. Most likely onto the street and into shelters. The shelters are not a guarantee because nationally over 50 percent of homeless can not qualify for sheltered housing or benefits. To qualify for GA one must have a bank account and to have said account one must have money. Although care not cash is headed in the right direction it has run into snags along the way as well. This impact of 150 rooms gone makes the burden fall on not for profits and tax payers to house these new homeless. There are not enough rooms in SRO and the legislation allotting people to pay 15 to 30 % of their income in new construction just fuels the existing problems.
The academy of art also buys up many of the rent controlled buildings. In a city with so little affordable housing again the impact on the community is great. The AAU has 9 dorms, 17 properties used as dwellings and group housings. The AAU and Larry Badner call single kitchen single living space a dwelling. A single kitchen multiple living spaces a Group living space and then no kitchen dorm rooms. So they are taking rent controlled buildings and sticking 4 people in every room possible and sharing a kitchen and call it group housing for mostly wealthy foreign students. The code violations occur when too many people are forced in to small a living space and effectively turn a property into a dorm. Having lived at Bush and Post there are several such building and they are not pleasant to live around. Loud behavior, smoking on the cigarette butt strewn side walk, alcohol use and consumption on the sidewalk. I went to college so I'm not surprised at the student behavior but to impact a community in this way and then say that it is for the love of San Francisco is crazy.
Another issue brought up is that the AAU does not own these properties out right so they are still rent controlled buildings making huge profits by over charging and over crowding. When a property does not change ownership it remains at a 2% yearly property tax increase. So not only is the revenue going directly to the school but there is a loss of tax revenue for the city by skirting the issue of ownership change.
So lets see what else. The AAU kept reiterating that they are doing the city a service by creating a love by foreign students that go home and talk up San Francisco. Brad Paul pointed out that this may be true but many such students stay for jobs in Sf and where are they supposed to live? He also proposed measures to create some public funding fees to be placed in the hands of this university to offset this displacement and impact on the community. Personally I think all land purchasing should stop till all the EIR reports are filled and completed, building violations are brought up to code, and a fare back payment on environmental impact is made. This is exactly the accountability we need from large companies gobbling up land and power in this city. As Jeff Kotsitsky of the CHP stated, "If our buildings were under this many code violations then we would have real trouble from a committee such as this."
So why has the AAU gotten away with this? Where was representation from district 6? Why are the EIR reports not made a priority and pushed through legislation? It's time to find out and get answers and restitution from one of the biggest slum lords, taking advantage of over seas students, and enforce strict laws and adherence to all outstanding code violations.

Friday, January 8, 2010

kick off

Well here we go. I remember the day after I filed the papers stating my intention to run for Supervisor of District 6 thinking I am putting myself on the chopping block and I feel amazing. Yesterday while preparing with my team I felt that same elation. I couldn't wait to be here with you. I have always said that there is no reason that I should be here and not you or someone else. I am here for the same reasons you would be. I have lived for 14 years in this city and in District 6 almost all of that time. If I was not in the district I was right on its borders. This district is where I could afford to live. It is where my friends live, work and created. It is the heart of the entertainment industry as well as home to some of the poorest in this city. It is the center for visitors from foreign lands and multi national corporations. I'm finding out what its all about when a person takes their political activism and become a politician. This has been a steep learnig curve for me and I expect it to get steeper. I expect this to be the most challenging time of my life. I expect it to be but I am going to do it anyway. Well what I hope to say is that WE are going to do this anyway, and we are gonna start making the difference.
We are the ones who call this district and city home. We are the ones who walk the streets instead of driving through them looking for parking. I know that personally without this community I wouldn't be here today. What has happened to our city based on community? The Cockette's, Finochio's, the Barbary Coast, Grace Slick and Janice Joplin, Small and large artists and collectives that have raised this city's profile to national acclaim. Where are those voices that have made this town great and opened the world to counter culture? Well they have been sold out to special interests and developers who care nothing of the people but only about the cash. It is time this behavior by our leaders be stopped; and its time we stopped it. Our apathy has kept us down long enough and we will stand up and demand that our city take care of it's environs before special interests.
When a hotel is paying 2 % increase of its property tax assessment of 1978 market value because it is owned by the same company; especially when the same hotel was an SRO in 1978 and is now a Hotel, Nightclub and restaurant; and their taxs have not been reassessed since 1978..... something is wrong. When there for a meet and greet with the new Tenderloin Police Chief the new proprietors talked about how they really cleaned up the block. Did they clean it up by creating new housing or by offering their toilets to those in need? When we can't find money for ADAP spending or homeless solutions, there is no excuse not to hold multi national or even local corporations responsible for helping to fund our city's infrastructure. Their ability to make and invest money has gotten them special privildeges and wealth. So it's only natural to believe that they should be made to share that wealth with those who have no wealth. Yes it's socialism but for all of you educated here in America there are far worse isms to be. There must be more accountability by our leaders in industry, public service, and public office. When an organization like the Community Housing Partnership has a 98% success rate why is it that they face their funding being cut? It certainly makes more sense to support the organizations that are creating dignity for this city than the ones creating cash only. Now is the time for fresh ideas and aggressive grass roots organizing. It's time to put the "we" back into po"we"r with no more excuses.
We must start saying and hearing yes. Yes there are solutions and yes there is money out there. Yes there will be change and it will be change that is wise and decent. Not hollow promises handed over for a quick buck for a very few, or people who own interest in our city but live elsewhere. When condo owners can shut down a bar that existed before the condo was slapped together, we see an imbalance of power. When a Mayor wants to do away with condo lotteries we see an even more unbalanced power structure emerging for the future. All because of greed and a power hungry ego. My friend Dudley once said he would rather vote for someone who didn't want to hold office because at least they wouldn't have an agenda. It is time for that kind of leader now. It is time to remove the corruption in our government and it's spending to free up the money needed to solve the problems of this city.
We must become more active. There is a steep learning curve ahead but we don't care about the struggle because that is what creates community. We have what we need right in our own community to create change and to protect those who are falling through the cracks. Not just the homeless but immigrants and families who can no longer afford to be part of the city that is San Francisco. We must unite to remind those in power that our city and our dignity are not for sale. Our city's government must be accountable. Why do we have an entertainment committee that is not encouraging the proliferation of entertainment? We already have the ABC and the Police to keep these entertainment venues in line. Its like a film commission that says "Stay away don't shoot or show films here". We need to create an environment and a liaison that serves the community and finds solutions instead for spreading fear and deceit. Not just in entertainment but in all areas. I just chose entertainment because it's what I know. It makes no sense to destroy an industry that is already working and supplying revenue.
We need new ideas and strong advocates for change. People who will not dumb themselves down to the middle to appease wealthy interests, labor, or to protect their job. We need fighters for justice or justice will keep getting bastardized. No one is going to do it for us and in the last year we have seen how we can loose rights; that were already granted to us; and let bigotry become law. We can not let these fascist tendencies go unchallenged. By raising our voices for what we know is right is the way to a brighter future. Not just for us but for the people who have neglected to recognize this truth for themselves. When given dignity and given a place to live a little gay named Glendon Hyde could put himself through beauty school, win Miss Trannyshack as the dark horse, run a very successful club, become an leading activist, and find his/her true spirit. Proof that dignity and community can create success and there is no need to own shame, oppression and fear any longer. That I would even consider standing before you tonight asking for contributions when you have already given me so much seems strange. I must remember however, that I am not asking for me, but for us. What this community has given us is a gift and not a gift that we should ever forget. We left the suburbs to find solice with like minds and to share our gifts where we wouldn't be shunned or killed for doing so. This is our city as much as it is anyones, and our city has been the voice calling others to share and create this magic. This magic, our community, these legends, are ours and we will not let them be sold. Not for any price.
To the guy who after a political meeting said "Oh so your the "drag queen"". I say yeah thats right buddy and don't you forget it; because Drag Queens have taken bigger games than this to the mat; and won.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Helping my friends at Tiara Sensation as they move to a new night

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Royalty and Commoners alike,

Princess TIARA SENSATION requests your presence at SOME THING. SOME THING happens Friday nights at the Stud, commencing with our opening gala on Friday, the Fifteenth night of January in the year of our Lady-Lord, Two Thousand and Ten.

We are proud to proclamate and set to celebrate Tiara Sensation’s monumental transition from manic Mondays to freaky Fridays. After a year and a half of doing everything wrong that we could possibly think of, we realized, we hadn’t yet tried SOME THING.

“Tiara Sensation was established to provide a free, creative party for people who want to ‘live the dream’ thru art and performance. And I'm ‘dreaming’ of a jager shot right now! ,” says VivvyAnne Forevermore, the hot heir apparent to the Tiara riches.

SOME THING is upping the auntie with not one, but two drag shows each night:

-"SOME THING" (a Gem in the Rough) at 11 p.m.

Glamamore’s "SOME THING MORE" (the Drool in the Crown) at midnight.

-SOME THING will make you DANCE! DANCE! DANCE! with sexy foreigners and the local gentry alike. Featuring all your favorite disk jockeys and DJ down-E.

-Make SOME THING at the craft table with Hot Gloo all night long.

According to Glamamamore, her royal dowager Empressness, “If you want to have fun in San Francisco, this is it. There is no thing like SOME THING!”

“We want people to experience joy, have fun, and remember that living is creativity explored,” says DJ down-E, esteemed jester, preferred above all others.

Failure to adhere to weekly thematic attire and spirit, though not required, is highly frowned upon, and therefore subject to the wrath of the queen (this does not, however, include "misunderstanding the assignment," even severely).

Yours humbly,

The Queen

Its a great group so please support! Anna Conda