Thursday, November 08, 2012

Town Hall Report:
Wiener Agrees With Me On . . . 

The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce presented a business summit on behalf of Scott Wiener last night, and I estimated between 50-60 individuals showed up for the event. Attendees were primarily merchants and from a few government agencies, with a smattering of civilians.The schmoozer was held on the fourth floor of the gay community center, which co-sponsored the event.

Community organizer and Gays Without Borders member Gary Virginia showed up. His top issue of the evening was stopping Starbucks from opening it's fourth outlet in the Castro. Big Coffee wants to take set up another shop, at Sanchez and Market Streets. I signed Gary's petition opposing another Starbucks and jeopardizing the pop-and-pop coffeehouses.

The center's executive director Rebecca Rolfe made an appearance and chatted with folks. She looked good in that red jacket and I saw her snapping photos on her iPhone. Not many of us were taking pictures and I didn't see anyone with a video recorder.

Nudist and public space advocate Rusty Mills asked Wiener about awnings along Castro and Market Streets, and what happens when it rains. He surprised me with his concern, largely because it had nothing to do with Wiener's divisive legislative effort to solve the nudist controversies.

Wiener made a short introduction about his pro-business agenda at City Hall, then took questions from the audience.

I asked if he cared about the health menace of the pigeon poop at Harvey Milk Plaza, especially the layer of it on top of the empty news rack in the plaza, and if he would take an interest in deleting the excessive number of news racks cluttering up the Castro's pedestrian-crowed sidewalks.

To my surprise, Wiener said he was aware of my campaigns on both matters, agreed that they are important, and that he would contact the Department of Public Health and the Department of Public Works to nudge them to address my concerns.

Jim Lazarus of the chamber of commerce served as host and emcee for the evening. After Wiener's Q & A, I spoke with Lazarus who is a member of the DPW news rack committee and he recalled hearing from me a year and a half ago about the pedmounts. He gave me his card and said I should nudge him to pressure DPW to keep its promise to delete empty pedmounts and consolidate the remaining units in the Castro.

A few merchants told me they too want the pedmounts diminished and the public sidewalks more accommodating for pedestrians. One merchant said he expected me to dog DPW about the matter until there's consolidation, while another gave me the email addy for a Noe Valley businesswoman who is on the news rack committee and said I need to lobby her.

Other business folks came over and expressed support for my news rack campaign, and I asked them all to make their views known to DPW.

Now that the chamber organized this public forum on Wiener's behalf, I hope he soon starts holding his own town halls organized by his City Hall staff of three assistants. More community communication will go far in lessening the high tensions and divisions in the gayborhood.

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