Monday, September 27, 2010

Rearranging Deck Chairs 
on the Sinking SF Gay Center

(Fire sale notice at the main entrance to 1800 Market Street. Photo taken tonight around 7:30.)

Our local community center continues to repulse ordinary gays, who stay away from the empty shell of a center. The latest sad chapter in the death-watch of the center comes from reporter Chris Roberts over at the SF Appeal site today.

Imitating the crew on the S.S. Titanic after hitting the iceberg, center executives and politicians rearrange the deck chairs, desperate to find anyone with a couple bucks to step inside the center.

The SF Appeal writes:

In its quest to become fiscally-sound, San Francisco's LGBT Center wants to rent itself out to a bar, a club, a restaurant, a theater; and no part of the 35,000 square-foot center is off limits to prospective renters, the center's executive director said Monday.

The Market Street institution has been losing money for years, running $250,000 in the red recently, according to executive director Rebecca Rolfe. That led the city to float the center a $157,000 loan earlier in the year, a cash injection needed to satisfy the $3.15 million the Center still owes to the Nevada bank that financed its construction.

Changes to the city's zoning laws, introduced by Castro representative Supervisor Bevan Dufty, would allow the center to rent out up to 6,999 square feet of its 35,000 square feet to new prospective tenants.  [...]

After Dufty's legislation clears the full Board of Supervisors over the next few weeks, prospective tenants could begin issuing bids to use the property as early as next month, Rolfe said. [...]

Just how hungry is the center to bring in some dollars? The sign on the front door announcing that office space is up for rent suggests efforts to find tenants by listing the availability on CraigsList and other web sites have failed, so the center posts another S.O.S. notice.

It was time years ago to stop putting band-aids over the gaping holes sinking the San Francisco gay center, and the Board of Supervisors must halt enabling this dysfunctional, and costly, experiment at community engagement by the A-Gays. We must face up to these cold, hard facts: the gays have rejected the center, it's political purpose and refuse to open wallets for it.

Political egos created and killed this monstrosity. Neither Bevan nor Rebecca were part of the crew that developed this center, and I don't like that they are mopping up the mess others made. Let me name the two culprits responsible for giving us the center.

They are: Scott Shafer, a former gay Democratic political operative who served as chief of staff to Gray Davis when he was CA State Controller and is now a reporter for KQED radio. And Dana Van Gorder, another such Democratic operative, who lives in the East Bay and did back when he was the prime mover of the center, who has served as associate and executive director at San Francisco AIDS Inc orgs.

Together, all of those folks should do the movement a favor. Admit the center was a mistake, has failed, and gracefully and with some dignity allow the center to go out of business.

And please, dear community, the next time A-Gays come around with a house-of-cards scheme lacking in support from rank-and-file queers, and they proffer an expensive proposition in the name of "unity," just say no.

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