Thursday, February 11, 2016

Who'll Control SF's New $8,500 LGBT Public Flagpole?

Many moons ago, I was part of a coalition staging a memorial at Harvey Milk Plaza for slain Ugandan gay leader David Kato that wanted to lower the rainbow flag to half staff in his honor.

We all soon learned an important piece of queer public space, the flagpole, was actually controlled by the private merchants group thanks to a verbal agreement with the City.

The Castro Merchants are obstinate control queens who choose to thwart community debate about a transparent process over who retains the keys to the flagpole, and the business owners bar any change in how they display the rainbow flag - always at full staff and never is another flag allowed to be flown.

The San Francisco Planning Commission today votes on a proposal for a fee waiver that would move forward the plan for the LGBT and kink public space known as the Eagle Plaza. That space will include a flagpole.

It's my hope the commission members address control issue now and that we avoid the Milk Plaza situation and control of community property by an elitist commercial organization. Here's the letter I've sent to the commissioners and commission secretary, asking that my statement be included in the minutes:

Dear Commissioners,

The proposal for the Eagle Plaza mentions creation of a flagpole at a cost of $8,500 in taxpayer dollars, and I support this project in its totality and specifically spending money on the furnishing that will allow LGBT people and allies to raise and lower flag for various purposes.

However, there is no explanation as to who will control the flagpole and how decisions will be made regarding when and how to alter the display of banners and flags.

I'm requesting that the developer, with whom I have left vmail, forthwith present written guidance as to how flagpole control issues will be processed, once the Eagle Plaza is created and operational for public use.

Before you vote today, please raise these issues with the developer and express support for a truly transparent community process requiring public domain, and not a private business organization, over the keys to the flagpole.

Queer cheers,
Michael Petrelis

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