Tenant complaint prompts change to Castro flag

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Monday August 14, 2023
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The rainbow flag flying at a Castro apartment building may be replaced with a smaller Progress Pride flag. Photo: Henry Walker
The rainbow flag flying at a Castro apartment building may be replaced with a smaller Progress Pride flag. Photo: Henry Walker

There may yet be changes to the rainbow flag flying at a Castro neighborhood apartment building, after a tenant expressed to the new landlord their own issues with the flag after the landlord had demanded it be taken down.

The Bay Area Reporter reported last week that the flag was still flying at 3991 18th Street after the office of gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman had proposed to AA Property Rentals that the flag stay, but be reinforced, after the new property managers had demanded it be taken down, citing liability and safety concerns, in their first communication with the building's tenants.

Henry Walker, a gay man who lives in the building, is the flag's caretaker. He said it'd been flying for decades.

But now, a tenant in the building — who does not want to be identified or comment for this report — has expressed to the landlord their preference for a smaller, Progress Pride flag, stating that the current flag flaps too loudly in the wind. The landlord expressed this could be a suitable compromise.

Maddie Alvarez of AA Property Rentals confirmed this to the B.A.R. on August 14, saying that "with climate change, I think, we need to expect heavy winds and rains," and that other properties had serious problems after last winter's destructive rain and wind storms.

"I had multiple apartment buildings where things were flying off everywhere and I was worried someone was gonna get hurt," Alvarez said. "There are beautiful flags we can put in the windows. One of the tenants suggested a smaller one. There's two apartments and the flag is between the two apartments. I took a video, and that flag was going, it was making a ton of noise, and so many people nowadays work from home and that has to be annoying. Ownership doesn't have a problem if it's a smaller flag or a progressive flag; he is worried about the safety."

Alvarez didn't identify who the person who owns the building is, saying it's owned by 3991 18th Street, LLC. California public records show that the LLC is owned by Wisfe Aish.

Alvarez continued that while the tenant expressed a preference for the Progress Pride flag, the owner's only concerns are liability and that everyone's happy.

"All we really want is safety and harmony for all of our tenants," Alvarez said. "We don't have a problem with the flag at all — we don't — we just want to be sure the people who rent from us and live in the apartments are happy and safe and that the owner is not going to be held liable. ... He doesn't care if it's an American flag standing there: he'd still want someone responsible and liable for the American flag, the Mexican flag or whatever flag it is. We all grew up there. We're all from that area."

When asked what area she means, Alvarez said "That whole area. The Castro area. I grew up at 18th and Sanchez. We have no issue with what type of flag it is. The tenant needs to be held responsible and liable for the flag."

Walker has not returned a request for comment responding to Alvarez's statements, but earlier he stated, "The property management company has been responsive and has acted in good faith to address our concerns, and their proposal [flying a smaller, Progress Pride flag] presents itself as an effort to make all parties happy. We definitely appreciate that. The tenants plan to get together and talk about next steps."

Mandelman's office, too, is hopeful.

"We'll continue to support and encourage a resolution," Adam Thongsavat, a legislative aide to Mandelman, stated to the B.A.R. "We're hopeful all parties can come to an agreement and we'll support any way we can."

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