Castro merchants warned about 18th Street construction as they prep for March events

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Thursday March 7, 2024
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District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman spoke to Castro Merchants Association members about an upcoming sewer replacement project, and opined on this week's local election results. Photo: John Ferrannini
District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman spoke to Castro Merchants Association members about an upcoming sewer replacement project, and opined on this week's local election results. Photo: John Ferrannini

Three months of sewer work construction will be closing a block of 18th Street in San Francisco's LGBTQ Castro neighborhood as it prepares for big events this month.

That was the news out of the Castro Merchants Association's relatively brief monthly membership meeting March 7. Other items discussed included a fundraiser for the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, Easter celebrations, more recognition for the Castro's volunteer safety group, and this week's election results.

The construction work was announced by Adam Thongsavat, a legislative aide to gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman.

According to a communiqué from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to Mandelman's office provided to the Bay Area Reporter by Thongsavat, the anticipated start of construction for sewer line replacement is Wednesday, March 13, and the project will last for three months on the block of 18th Street between Collingwood and Eureka streets.

"Weather and construction issues could impact the schedule," the SFPUC email states. "General workdays and hours (weather permitting) are Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Weekend, night, and continuous 24-HR work is allowed; if necessary, advanced notice will be distributed. There may be periods of inactivity between completion of sewer work, curb ramp construction, street base repair and final paving."

Thongsavat told the B.A.R. he would look into what parking impacts there are. After the initial online publication of this report, he stated that the project team reported to him that "parking restrictions are active M-F 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parking restriction info is posted 72-hours in advance and Tow-Away signs post approx. 0.5 (half) hour prior to the start of work with the exception that it shall not be earlier than 8 a.m."

Parking lanes will "allow for creating a safe driving lane through the work zone," the team stated. The restricted area will span 65 feet beyond the east and west intersections of both 18th and Collingwood streets and 18th and Eureka streets to allow for a driving lane.

The 33 Ashbury bus will be affected, and signs will be posted by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

"The supervisor has made this a point for all construction projects, especially with commercial corridors, that we expect the work to be efficient, expedited, and without impacts to small business," Thongsavat said.

Mandelman said that sewers have to be replaced every 75-100 years.

"It needs to be done," assured the supervisor.

Harvey Milk school fundraiser

In other news, drag performer Kylie Minono told the merchants that the annual competition and drag show fundraiser for the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy public elementary school will be held at The Cafe nightclub, 2369 Market Street, Saturday, March 23, from 5 to 8 p.m.

The Cafe did not immediately return a request for comment.

"I know businesses are still hurting, but we are doing an online auction this year and would love support," Minono said. "It's so important now more than ever with all of what's going on around the world."

The Cafe is donating everything needed for the fundraiser "at no cost to us," Minono said. The event will feature "RuPaul's Drag Race's" Thorgy Thor. General admission is $25.

San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Matt Wayne recently announced that some schools will be closed by the fall of 2025 due to declining enrollment, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported. He has not yet indicated specific school sites targeted for closure. The Harvey Milk elementary school was thought to be in danger of closing last year, but those rumors were unfounded at the time, as the B.A.R. previously reported.


Easter is early this year — Sunday, March 31 — and Lauro Gonzalez, a gay man who is the CEO and founder of ArtyhoodSF, said that he's planning an event on Noe Street, between Market and Beaver streets, from noon to 6 p.m. the prior day, Saturday, March 30. Similar events have been held prior to Christmas, Halloween, and Pride in recent years.

"We are inviting all the businesses in the Castro to celebrate," Gonzalez said. "We're inviting all of you to take part and take advantage. ... We encourage everyone to come here, dress as a bunny, and come into your business to get a stamp for their 'passport'."

The event will also feature prizes, a petting zoo, drag queens, music, and arts and crafts, Gonzalez said.

"There'll be an egg hunt for the kids, but it's only going to happen at the event," Gonzalez said. "They're not going to go to your store."

Added straight ally merchants' president Terry Asten Bennett: "Unless they bunny-hop their way down there."

Volunteers are needed, Gonzalez said.

Greg Carey, a gay man who is chair of Castro Community on Patrol, said he is working with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence on the Hunky Jesus event at Mission Dolores Park on Easter Sunday.

Castro patrol to be honored by feds

Carey and CCOP were honored at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors March 5, as the B.A.R. previously reported.

"Tuesday was Greggy Day at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors," Mandelman said. "It was Greggy and the Castro Community on Patrol. That's the first of a couple of commendations they'll be getting in March."

The others are award ceremonies at City Hall and in Washington, D.C. The Federal Bureau of Investigation will be giving CCOP a "preliminary award," Carey said, at the office of Mayor London Breed on March 18 at 12:30 p.m. "so you don't have to go to Washington to see us." The ceremony will include Mandelman, Breed, District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, Sheriff Paul M. Miyamoto, Police Chief William Scott, and officials from the San Francisco FBI Office.

There will be another ceremony on April 19 in Washington, D.C.

CCOP is being presented with the National FBI Directors Community Liaison Award for its active shooter training presentations, Carey said.

The San Francisco FBI Office did not immediately return a request for comment.

D8 supe: 'San Franciscans are still crazy lefties'

Mandelman disagreed with people opining that the March 5 election results represent a rightward lurch by city voters.

"We got a whole bunch of shifts to the reasonable in this election," the supervisor said. "Don't worry — San Franciscans are still crazy lefties. We'll be back, but for now there is some desire for some pragmatism."

Preliminary results showed San Francisco voters approving measures to increase the powers of law enforcement and allow drug testing of some people on public assistance. It led to headlines that "S.F. can no longer be called a progressive city," as was stated in the Chronicle ().

Mandelman said that's not the whole story, if present trends in the vote count hold.

"[People] voted more than two-thirds for an affordable housing bond," Mandelman said, referring to Proposition A. "For the moment the voters sent a very clear signal they want a little more pragmatism."

Mandelman said that candidates for mayor in November's election, including Breed, former mayor Mark Farrell, Levi Strauss heir Daniel Lurie, and District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, all straight allies, will be coming to Castro businesses soon.

"Tell them about the neighborhood's problems," Mandelman said. "Hold the mayor accountable. Hold them all accountable. This is an opportunity."

Merchants' elections, new Pride flag

Asten Bennett said that elections for the merchants' group's leadership will be held next month. She said she'd made a commitment to run again.

The merchants will be changing the Pride flag near Harvey Milk Plaza on March 22 at noon.

"Please come join us," she said. "Bring all your friends. It's actually a really fun experience. That flag went up the day Dianne Feinstein died. The new flag will go up until we switch it out for Pride in June."

The old flag will be donated under the merchants' flag donation program, whereby the retired banners are given to a nonprofit, as the B.A.R. previously reported.

Update 3/7/24: This report has been updated with further information on the impacts from the sewer repair to 18th Street.

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