Letters to the editor

  • by BAR staff
  • Wednesday July 27, 2022
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Letters to the editor

Questions about LGBTQ cultural district

The leadership of the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District receives $230,000 annually in city funds, and the community deserves substantive explanations about the following matters.

Last year it spent money on a survey that began as solely related to what to display on the municipal flagpole at Harvey Milk Plaza, but soon expanded to ask respondents about their experiences in the Castro. The results were never released.

Connected to the survey was a promise to hold a town hall about the flagpole issues and it didn't happen. Community time and public funds went for what benefit exactly?

Also in 2021, the district made a lot of noise about taking over maintenance of the memorial corner of Bank of America at 18th and Castro streets. It unanimously passed a resolution detailing responsibilities it would deliver keeping the memorial space orderly and free of trash, by hiring a part-time worker. No one was hired and the district has done nothing to revitalize the corner.

The district last year wanted to spend up to $10,000 for a street celebration honoring Stonewall Rebellion trans pioneer Marsha P. Johnson, canceling those plans in order to operate a COVID testing and vaccine site, promising a party for her this summer. Hasn't happened.

Relatedly, in the spring of 2021 the district issued a call for artists to create a Black Lives Matter mural in the gayborhood and the project was shelved.

In December, it attempted to delay a desperately needed housing project on Church Street near Market, because it wanted the developer to include an undefined community space in the building. The delay was thankfully rejected.

This year, the district created a front group called Friends of the Castro Theatre that meets every Friday afternoon but is not open to the public and whether wearing district or Friends hats, the leaders have not been transparent and accountable back to the film-loving and neighborhood communities.

The district's social media is inconsequential and frequently promotes events outside of the Castro or with no obvious connection. No effort is made to invite the public to participate in their weekly virtual meetings. It is rare for any minutes of the meetings to include public comments, usually when I've dialed in to be the lone member of the public participating.

Recently, it allocated $20,000 for unspecified internal investigation and hasn't said what the reason is for it.

Finally, there is no culture created exclusively by the district at Jane Warner Plaza. Its recent vigil there for the victims of the Pulse gun massacre had very low attendance and it was a one-time event.

Is this the best they can do with almost a quarter million dollars in city money developing and sustaining culture in our gayborhood?

Michael Petrelis

San Francisco

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