The Latest Skinny on Past Posts of Neighborhood News

We’ve posted a great deal in the past month or so about a myriad of stories  in the Castro that have generated quite a bit of interest. This week the follow-up news has been a hot and heavy maelstrom resolving at least one issue that’s been festering since 2009.

Cafe Flore (credit: Eric Nielson)

Cafe Flore (credit: Eric Nielson)

Cafe Flore restaurant in jeopardy: As our Editor in Chief, Roy,  posted last week, Cafe Flore had run afoul of a organzied effort by members of the community and two neighborhood associations over their off site kitchen use.

Sup. Wiener had proposed a targeted code variance which would allow the venerable and much beloved icon of the Castro to continue using the off site, code compliant, food prep site its had functioning for the last two decades. Many of the opposition thought this was unfair and that all businesses should be held to the exact same standards no matter what.

We’re happy to report that the Oversight Committee in charge of the issue via Board of Supervisors approved the change this week and now Cafe Flore is free of threats to its continued operation. The off site kitchen will continue to be used keeping Flore up and running without hiccups.

fitness-sf-expansionSF Fitness seeks to expand and remodel building: In October the Biscuit posted that LA based Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf was hoping to expand into the Castro with a new store opening in the old Vibrant Health Vitamin Center.

This new addition to the Castro was contingent on a couple of issues-the biggest-wether or not SF Fitness could get a zone variance to enlarge the building on the corner of Market and Noe St. Their goal since 2009 has been to add several floors which would include much-needed rental units as well as expanding the gym to accommodate an ever-growing clientel.

Working with the Board of Supes, under the guidance of Supervisor Wiener, the remodel has received the go ahead. Mr. Wiener piggybacked the zone change for SF Fitness onto the same multi-faceted legislation that included Cafe Flore’s off site kitchen issue.

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf signed a lease with the owners of SF Fitness, the Jackovics family, following the approval. Coffee Bean will still have to get approval to open which may prove to be a daunting task considering how corporate chain stores are received and disliked in the neighborhood.

milk-sfo-rallyRally for renaming SFO for Harvey Milk: We’ve posted three times about the battle heating up to rename SFO.

Friday saw a huge coalition of supporters rally at City Hall in favor of changing the name of SFO to honor the late, Castro Supervisor and civil rights leader, Harvey Milk.

Led by chief proponents Sup. David Campos who introduced the resolution to the Board, and Stuart Milk, Harvey’s nephew and Milk Foundation head, about a hundred people took part from a wide swath of San Francisco political organizations and citizenry. Kicking off the rally with chants and speeches of support media from throughout the Bay Area was on hand to cover and help get out the word that the battle is on to make this idea a reality.

Friday Sup. Campos said 80 airports are named after people across the U.S. but there is no representation from the LGBT community.

“Why shouldn’t San Francisco be that City?” Campos asked those gathered at the rally.

Campos isn’t alone in this quest he’s enlisted the support of four other supervisors, including John Avalos, Scott Wiener, Jane Kim and Eric Mar. One more supervisor will be needed to get the issue on a City ballot.

Campos goal is to have this issue on the agenda by Fall of 2013.



Waiyde Palmer

Waiyde Palmer loves San Francisco, social activism and punk rock(ers). His work has appeared in Handbook Magazine. SF Bay Times, The Advocate, Diseased Pariah News and American Music Press . He also has an extensive and repeatedly redacted FBI file.

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22 Responses

  1. It is great seeing the architectural rendering for the new building for Fitness SF. Do you know who owns that property? Is it the same people that own the gym? Your article says that the Jackovic family signed a lease with CBTL, but they could be subleasing the retail space.

    I looked at the CBTL website and they have three locations in the City. They are all in the Financial District. So, if they get to open at Noe and Market that would be first for them in our area. I’ve never been in one of their locations, but I would guess they are very similar to Starbucks.

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    • Waiyde says:

      It’s unclear from what I’ve researched if the Jackovic’s own the building. They are quite a bit like Starbucks in scope and product offered with a bit more of a funky decor.

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  2. Tom says:

    Thanks for that update- I am holding out hope that the Coffee Bean is able to take over that venue. I have to admit that I’m a fan and would rather not have to brave the crowds at the Embarcadero or Powell Street to get my Winter Dream fix every year. They are a fine company, just started an expansion to the East Coast, so I’m able to stop by when I go to New York City to see a Broadway show.

    The entire keeping out “corporate” in the Castro puzzles me greatly, especially when I walk down Castro Street and pass a Sprint store, Walgreens, then see a Starbucks, Levis Store, Chase Bank, CitiBank and Bank of America as well in that region. Also isn’t 24 hour fitness a national chain as well?

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    • Tom – The gym at Noe and Market used to be a part of the Gold’s Gym franchise. But, several months ago the local owners disbanded from Gold’s Gym due to their support of anti-gay legislation. That gym is now called FitnessSF (

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      • Tom says:

        Thank you Sanchez Resident, Im very well aware of that and applaud the owners of FitnessSF for taking such a stand. I’m not sure where I questioned those fine folks in my entry above questioning the other “corporate” entities in the Castro, including a possible Chipolte, but Coffee Bean gets questioned.

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        • Tom – I completely forgot about the 24hour Fitness gym on Market between Church and Sanchez. I assumed incorrectly that you had referred to the FitnessSF gym as a 24hour Fitness. I apologize for the confusion.

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        • Waiyde says:


          To be clear: The Castro does have corp./chain stores w/in it’s boundaries. What I, and many others, are opposed to is their continued advancement over unique, SF small businesses. I believe you can strike a balance between meeting the needs of the community and continuing to support small, Mom & Pop, businesses that make the Castro the unique neighborhood and destination it’s been. We will lose that undefinable, special quality, we love about the Castro if we continue to have every retail store front available filled with a corporate/box store business. Soon, despite the best efforts of preservationist, the Castro will barely be distinguishable from Anywhere, USA. Many citizens feel as I do and hope to see solutions from our business and political leaders to help support small business growth over corporate expansion. Many proponents of box store/chain store expansion are using the fact we have a plethora of empty retail space unrented as excuse to remove any hinderance to their further incursion into the Castro. Neglected is the fact that property owners are rent gouging whenever possible and tossing out long time Castro staples when their leases expire by raising the rents to hight that most can’t afford to stay. Change is inevitable. Yet SF has always prided itself on it’s ability to change and honor it’s history at the same time. We need more care and concern durning this process not blanket approvals nor blatant obstructionism. Balance must be found.

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          • Tom says:

            Thank you for the eloquent explanation. I agree balance must be found and perhaps I’m being a little overly biased/sensitive in that one particular issue since I told the Coffee Bean in such high esteem.

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  3. Mark says:

    I’m happy about the Fitness SF gym expansion that is desperately needed at this location! Congrats to Cafe Flore as well :)

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  4. Mike Burkett says:

    Almost anything that has Wiener’s name on it probably has something rotten inside. His support of the nudity ban, the “condo conversion” law, lack of any action on a variety of issues facing his district and San Francisco as a whole speak volumes about his character or lack thereof. If the proposed remodel of the building at Noe and Market includes below market rate, IE affordable, units then I would be happy to see it, with Wiener championing this, that probably will not happen. I do not want “more” in the Castro, better, more diverse, and people would be nicer. To me, and I do live here, the majority of my neighborhood is beyond the reach of the people that man the shopping district that was a neighborhood 15 years ago. I look at the evictions, condos, new residential buildings, and businesses and I hope that the Castro does not become like the Haight – an expensive place to live, and a shopping district.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

    • Stephen says:

      Unfortunately, these days BMR does not equal “affordable” for many people anymore. I too share your concerns about the Castro and Scott Weiner’s business and and developer friendly policies.

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    • Really too bad you feel the need to smear Wiener, given all the work he’s devoted to SF and the district he represents here in the Castro. Rather than supporting fringe groups who do nothing but destroy business and livability in the City, Wiener has struck a reasonable tone in dealing with issues like nudity, first asking the few nudists to be sensible about not slapping their naked asses over public benches without any regard for others, then pushing for restrictions after the nudity turned into a cockring sideshow of guys oiled up and jerking off in public.

      You don’t mention any of the many more significant things Wiener has accomplished, including lining up funds to finally get started on widening and beautifying Castro Street.

      In reality however, Castro’s future has a lot more to do with market forces (ie, if landlords want to rent out their property at rates that can support thriving businesses, or if they want to push everyone out and hope to sign up “formula retail” banks and pharmacies that are willing to pay high rents to sell nothing but loans and Chinese imports) than any sort of action by politicians.

      You can’t just decree that rents will be low in a beautiful city with high paying jobs. That’s unrealistic and stupid, and clearly isn’t working.

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      • Waiyde says:

        I don’t see where we’ve smeared the Supervisor in this post. But, appreciate your input, opinion and readership.

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      • Jan says:

        More on the Castro Street project…

        Castro Street is about to undergo a facelift. The SF Planning Department has a new project in the works called “The Castro Street Design Plan” This new study includes the length of Castro Street from Market Street to the south side of 19th Street. A small portion of 18th Street is included to allow the study of transit and pedestrian improvements at its intersection with Castro Street. Lane reconfiguration on Castro Street north of Market Street are being considered, new park-lets are being considered, corner “bump-outs” to allow more pedestrian friendly areas are being considered and removal of newspaper stands and kiosks are also being reviewed. The idea is to make Castro Street more friendly like Valencia Street.

        Link to more information here:

        Project Factsheet can be found here:

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      • Mike Burkett says:

        I do see Wiener’s accomplishments, however I also see his ignoring many real problems while focusing on issues that, in my humble opinion, are not that much of a problem. As for the nudists, many have been friends of mine for a while, and all the majority did was walk around naked. There were some that stepped over the line. Because of that you ignore the homeless running around Castro, the drugs/druggies, non-affordable housing, MUNI unreliability, and so on to slap the offenders? That’s like saying someone doing drugs on your front lawn makes you a criminal also. Prosecute the offenders, leave the others alone. His support of legislation that would further diminish rent control that Harvey Milk put in place is another reason I do not care for him. Every time I see him in any news it’s almost always when he is doing something for people who have money – corporations, landlords, wealthy donors, etc. I have attempted several times to meet with Mr. Wiener and been fobbed off twice to his “town meetings” with less than 24 hours notice. Almost every communication sent to his office disappears into a black hole I assume as I have only ever received 4 responses, and that includes two notifications and one meeting. As to rents, where are the people that service the people with the high paying jobs supposed to live? Oh, I know Oakland! That way you don’t have to deal with them. Mr. Wiener is a corporate, moneyed interest, backwards politician. His support is disappearing, and I hope he does not get re-elected.

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        • Ramón says:

          “Mr. Wiener is a corporate, moneyed interest, backwards politician. His support is disappearing, and I hope he does not get re-elected.” – From your lips to the electorate’s ears. There’s more to District 8 than the intersection of Castro & Market.

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  5. Mark Vogel says:

    I find it funny that there is apparently no uproar about a possible Coffee Bean location (a chain, albeit small) but the idea of a Starbuck’s at Sanchez and Market puts many panties in a wad.

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    • Waiyde says:

      4 Starbucks in one neighborhood vs. 1 Coffee Bean does have something to do with the lack of noticeable uproar on this blog comment section. I have heard from other cafe owners/workers are none to pleased. However their are plenty of City supplied hurdles to overcome before this is a done deal.

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      • Waiyde – Here’s a thought on the Starbucks project. Would you be willing to support a Starbucks at Sanchez and Market if the Starbucks on 18th Street and the Starbucks at Safeway closed? Not the Starbucks in Safeway, but the one next door to Safeway in the same strip mall.

        I suggest this because it seems that the number of Starbucks in the hood is the sticking point for many opposed to the new location at Sanchez and Market. So, if we require the total number be reduced it could be a win-win.

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        • Waiyde says:

          Sanchez Rez:

          I think that would be a fantastic and equitable compromise.

          I realize Starbucks isn’t going away and I don’t want to deny those who enjoy and relish the product the right to have access to it (despite the reality there’s better product made by local cafes like Philz all around).

          My comment has always been based primarily on the issue of number of SB.

          It’s also one of the reasons I oppose CVS coming to the old Tower Complex. We already have 6 pharmacies/drug stores. Do we really need another?

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          • I feel like there is a little double-talk here. You say you’re against Starbucks because there are many other Starbucks in the area, and that it is about Starbucks’ numbers, not necessarily coffe shops.

            However you then say you’re against CVS because we have a ton of pharmacies already, none of which are a CVS.

            That’s kind of like saying, we don’t need another bar because we already have plenty. Or, we don’t need another porn shop, we already have plenty.

            It can’t be one or the other. You’re either opposed to corporations like CVS or Starbucks (or Coffee Bean), or you’re opposed to having too many of the same type of business in an area.

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          • Waiyde says:

            I believe its unrealistic to think that anyone or any group will be able to fully contain corp. encroachment into the neighborhood. I don’t want the Starbucks or any other corp in the hood for that matter-but-I also know this a battle long lost.

            The first ‘corp’ entity in the Castro was Walgreens when they took over Star Pharmacy followed by a Haggen Dazs store that opened mid 80′s on Castro St. Ever since the continued migration of chain business entities have inched their way into the neighborhood.

            What I hope to see achieved is a balance of new small businesses supported by both community and City and a realistic zoning of new chain businesses. You may think that’s double speak, but, I believe it’s living in the here and now. I am not interested in hubris but real, living solutions that reflect the current populace and best meets a consensus of thought. If you term that double speak so be it.

            Thanks for reading and commenting. Look forward to hearing more of your thoughts on future posts.

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