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News Briefs: Tenants convention planned for Castro

by compiled by Cynthia Laird

One tactic used by tenants threatened by eviction is to<br>visibly post details of their pending eviction in an effort to inform<br>prospective buyers. These signs, from a few years ago, were in a house in the<br>Castro district. Photo: Rick Gerharter
One tactic used by tenants threatened by eviction is to
visibly post details of their pending eviction in an effort to inform
prospective buyers. These signs, from a few years ago, were in a house in the
Castro district. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

Several tenants rights and LGBT community groups will co-sponsor a Castro area tenants convention Saturday, June 3 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (registration begins at 10:30) at the Women's Building, 3543 18th Street in San Francisco.


The event is free.


The convention is co-sponsored by the San Francisco Tenants Union, the Housing Rights Committee, the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, Metropolitan Community Church-San Francisco, and D8 Democrats. It will bring together renters in various parts of District 8, which includes the Castro, Noe Valley, Duboce Triangle, Glen Park, and the north edge of the Mission, to talk about strategies for combating speculation, which organizers said is one of the forces driving up rents and displacing tenants.


The program will also include a "know your rights" training.


"It's important that we tackle speculation from the grassroots," said Deepa Varma, director of the tenants union. "If people in our neighborhoods know what to look out for and how to organize against it, we can hopefully cut down on some of the speculation that is driving this housing crisis."


Longtime queer activist Tommi Avicolli Mecca, with the Housing Rights Project, said the Castro has felt the impact of speculation.


"Not only in terms of high rents, but also empty storefronts and high rates of homelessness among LGBT youth," he said in a news release. "We need to reclaim our neighborhood and one way to do that is to start to address speculation."


Sheehy eyes steep fines for Dolores Park littering

Gay District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy has announced legislation to increase fines to curb rampant littering and broken glass at Mission Dolores Park.


The proposal also would ban glass in parks citywide.


Dolores Park, which is widely popular, especially on sunny days, has seen visitors leave behind tons of trash, usually on weekends, even though a $20.5 million renovation completed last year increased the number of restrooms and trash and recycling capacity.


"Park users must be responsible for packing out items they bring into the park," Sheehy, whose district includes the park, said in a May 18 statement. "Broken glass in our parks is a danger to families, children, and pets."


The legislation would create a special increase in fines for littering or dumping waste in Dolores Park and clarify that park patrol officers can write citations for these fines.


The current standard fine amount for all park code violations is $192. The proposed legislation would increase the penalty only in Dolores Park to $1,000 for littering or dumping waste.


"We are asking people in Dolores Park to behave just like they would in Yosemite, respect the park – pick up after yourself and don't bring glass," said Phil Ginsburg, rec and park general manager.


The legislation includes exceptions for the use of glass in parks for permitted use determined by the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department and glass beverage containers used in the care of feeding infant children.


Landfill and recycling capacity at the park is now nearly 56,000 gallons per week, compared to only 35,000 gallons before renovation. Additionally, there is an Eco Pop-Up, a staffed triple-sorting site where park users can sort their waste into recycling, compost, and landfill.


Nonprofits can reserve window space

Area nonprofits can now apply to reserve window space for 2018 at the Castro Walgreens to promote their events.


Paul Margolis, who runs , a reference guide to over 300 San Francisco LGBTQ nonprofits, handles the window reservations, which run for 13 days. Walgreens, at 18th and Castro streets, has donated the space since 2001.


Margolis said that the displays cannot feature anything pornographic, political, or provocative.


"Past experience demonstrates that displays with eye-catching artistic creativity attract the most attention of passersby," he said in a news release. "Groups are encouraged to promote themselves and the services they offer."


Interested agencies should contact Gary Poe, the volunteer reservation agent, who begins June 1, at . Include the dates of major 2018 events or fill out the form under .


BALIF fellow to clerk at NCLR

The Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom Foundation has announced its first $2,500 summer fellowship.


Ary Smith, a first year student at Berkeley Law who identifies as genderqueer, received the fellowship and will clerk full-time for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, according to Shay Gilmore, a member of the BALIF Foundation board.


During college, Smith was a leader in the Transgender Advocacy Group, and after graduating, published an essay on non-binary identity.


At Berkeley Law, Smith has been an active member of the Queer Caucus and is the recent development and community editor of the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law, and Justice. Smith established the name and gender document change workshop at the East Bay Community Law Center, assisting gender non-conforming people in obtaining court-ordered name and gender changes.


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