Thursday, April 12, 2012

SF Wants $1,500 to 
Lower UN Flag for Day Against Homophobia

(United Nations Plaza, with San Francisco's City Hall in the background.)

If I weren't still suffering laryngitis from a nasty spring cold, I would have screamed like a queen when reading how much the San Francisco Department of Public Works wants to charge Gays Without Borders to lower the United Nations and American flags at UN Plaza on May 17, which is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, IDAHO.

In late March, I blogged about a unanimous vote at the Board of Supervisors backing a resolution from openly gay Supervisor David Campos directing DPW to lower the flags and to also have IDAHO officially recognized for the first time by City Hall as a day of significance.

Yesterday, I received this email from DPW's community liaison Greg Crump regarding who would be the point-person on the project, the cost involved and whether we could tape a sign to the flagpoles explaining why the flags were lowered, bolding added:

I have the information that you are asking for:

1. Yes, please contact me with questions leading up to your event. I will do my best to assist with your inquiries in a timely manner.

2. The costs incurred by DPW for raising and lowering the flags at UN Plaza amounts to $1,467.90 ($733.95 to lower the flags and the same to raise them again).

3. I do not believe it is permissible to affix signs to the flag poles on public property. [Public Works Code 5.6 link to code] Perhaps there are other messaging options to help explain why the flags have been lowered.

Hope this helps. Thanks for your patience, Michael. 

Almost $1,500 to lower and raise two flags? Seems an excessive amount to pay to have a DPW employee show up at UN Plaza on May 17, spend a few minutes inserting a key into the control boxes and lowering the UN and American flags to half-staff, then elevating them the next day.

I will get in touch with Supervisor Jane Kim today because UN Plaza is in her district and she is also my supervisor. Maybe she can lobby DPW to waive that four-figure fee. With IDAHO a little more than a month away, I am cautiously optimistic that a resolution can be worked out among the stakeholders - Gays Without Borders, DPW, the Board of Supervisors - that lowers the flags without gouging activists.

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