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Haney proposes landmarking gay SF Eagle bar

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The leather pride flag flies at the Eagle bar in 2018 as construction continued on a mixed-use development that will pay for a leather-themed public plaza nearby. Photo: Rick Gerharter
The leather pride flag flies at the Eagle bar in 2018 as construction continued on a mixed-use development that will pay for a leather-themed public plaza nearby. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

District 6 San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney introduced a resolution at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting to grant landmark status to the Eagle, the South of Market gay-owned leather bar.

"Today, I am also introducing a resolution to initiate landmark designation for the San Francisco Eagle Bar, a historic LGBTQ nightlife institution and legacy business located in District 6 within San Francisco's Leather & LGBTQ Cultural District in SOMA, as provided for under Planning Code Section 1004.1," Haney, a straight ally, told the Bay Area Reporter.

The resolution is expected to first go to the supervisors' land use committee early in 2021. The Board of Supervisors would then take a vote on it. After that, the proposal goes to the historic preservation commission, which has 90 days to weigh in on the proposal. It then returns to the supervisors for a final vote officially designating the property as a city landmark.

The same process is currently underway for the historic home of late lesbian pioneers Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin at 651 Duncan Street in the city's Noe Valley neighborhood, as the B.A.R. has been reporting. The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted in support of starting the landmark process for their two-story cottage and surrounding garden at its October 20 meeting.

It has not yet been heard by the historic preservation commission, but is expected to be in early 2021.

Lex Montiel, owner of the Eagle bar, answered a phone call from the B.A.R. December 15 but said he'd like to "reserve my comment."

As the B.A.R. This text will be the linkpreviously reported>, the future of the establishment beloved for its Sunday beer busts on its outdoor patio, which have been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is in question as the community wonders what will happen to it following the listing of its building. The newly built Eagle Plaza leather-themed public parklet on a portion of 12th Street is named after the bar and was championed by Montiel and his late business partner, Mike Leon, who died in 2019.

The building that houses the Eagle remains for sale.

Honey Mahogany, a queer nonbinary trans person who is the chief legislative aide for Haney, told the B.A.R. that she doesn't know who the new owner of the property is, but that her sense is that the Eagle "has 10 years left on its lease."

"Lex brought this up to us and said it was one of the things we could do to help him," Mahogany said. "My sense is that Lex doesn't like to show his cards before they're ready. He's going to get all his ducks in a row before coming out to the community with a plan to make sure the Eagle is saved."

Mahogany said that Haney is introducing the resolution to highlight the importance of the Eagle as an anchor for not only the LGBTQ community, but the city as a whole.

"The Eagle is a cornerstone of SOMA for us, especially West SOMA," Mahogany said. "The building was up for sale so we want to make sure that everyone knows how important the Eagle is for San Francisco, Eagle Plaza, and the [Leather and LGBTQ] Cultural District."

Robert Goldfarb, a gay man who is the president of the Leather and LGBTQ Cultural District board, wrote in an email to the B.A.R. late Tuesday that the bar deserves landmark status.

"We're delighted that the Eagle Bar building is going to be given landmark status," Goldfarb stated. "The Eagle has been an iconic gathering point for the leather community since May 1981, so it's absolutely appropriate that it has landmark status. We look forward to it resuming its role in the community when pandemic rules allow it to reopen safely."

Updated: 12/15/20: This article has been updated to indicate that the Eagle has about 10 years left on its lease.

Updated, 12/16/20: This article has been updated to include comments from the leather cultural district's board president.

Updated 4/12/21: This article has been updated to state that the building that houses the Eagle remains for sale. The article previously stated that it had been sold to a man but that information was incorrect.

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