Homelessness In The Mission

SFPD Forces Mission Homeless to Relocate After Department Decries the Very Practice

Yesterday evening, Mission Local published a piece on the numerous homeless encampments on the streets of the Mission and the city’s inability to formulate an effective strategy to address the ongoing crisis. Entitled “Homeless Encampments Here to Stay,” the story focuses on a few specific blocks that have consistently been a refuge for the homeless population over the past few years. Accompanying the article is the above photo of Harrison Street, between 18th and 19th, across from Mission Cliffs. 

I commute down Harrison every day, so this photo was very much on my mind as I cruised by this morning. Well, apparently the photo and article were also on the mind of the San Francisco Police Department, as I saw three officers walking the block, asking people to relocate. A few hours later, I went back to the site of the above photo and took a very different picture.

As you can see, the spot had been completely cleared out. This surprised me for a few reasons, one of which being that Mission Station Captain Daniel Perea acknowledges the futility of issuing citations:

At the August community meeting at the Mission Station, Captain Daniel Perea said that enforcement is ineffective because it only temporarily displaces the encampments. Further enforcement, he added, “is not going to correct this,” since officers (unable to physically relocate people) are left with the ineffective option of handing out fines.

“I could go to all these places everyday and give tickets to everybody,” he said. “But if I give someone who’s homeless a citation, they’re not gonna stop. And nine out of 10 times they say no to shelters. We just have no answer to this.”

Captain Perea’s comment about temporary displacement is of course correct, as is evidenced by the fact that a majority of homeless campers simply moved a few blocks over to Florida Street:

Over the past few years, at the behest of noisy constituents, the city has attempted to hose the homeless away from Mid-Market and push them out of 16th and Mission. “Out of sight and out of mind” might be enough for high-paid Mid-Market workers, but the people have to go somewhere. The police will never hassle the problem away.

Of course, it is not yet a crime to be homeless (and nor should it be). As Captain Perea put it:

Perea called homelessness the “single most frustrating thing” about his job because “homelessness is not a crime, and the police cannot and will not eliminate it.” Instead, he said, efforts should be made to “have some compassion.”

Mission Local’s piece mentions that a large contributing factor to the number of homeless in San Francisco is the lack of affordable housing and safe shelter beds. Those are obvious areas were the city could focus its energy, instead of forcing people to pack up and move their home every time someone (or some publication) calls attention to it.

Update: Now, on Wednesday morning, the police are out on Florida Street ticketing the homeless they yesterday asked to move off Harrison.

Get Drunk And Blow Out Your Eardrums

New Pop's Bar Will Have Live Bands

In a rare bit of good news for the Mission bar scene, the Planning Commission has granted the new owners of Pop’s a full entertainment license. For those of you not hip to the minutiae of San Francisco’s weird permitting rules, this means that when Pop’s reopens, it will legally be allowed to rock both DJ’s and live bands. 

Mission Local reports:

The historic bar’s new owner, Michael Krouse, who also owns Madrone on Divisadero, applied for a permit to have a full entertainment license, meaning the bar could legally offer its patrons live bands and DJs. With some conditions, the commission unanimously approved the change of use. […]

The bar’s live music program will operate until 10 p.m. and DJs until 2 a.m., its existing operating hours. [Erick Arguello of Calle 24] said that Calle 24 is mostly supportive of granting the bar its full entertainment license, but hopes that they can find some sort of compromise about hours. The group of merchants hopes the bar will cease operations at midnight, to which Krouse noted that the bar can already operate until 2 a.m. with its existing liquor license.

This welcome development allows for the outside possibility that the new Pop’s may retain some of its pre-renovation, shit-hole charm. Before the city cracked down, neighborhood kids spinning sets was always one of the bar’s highlights (that and the cheap beers/bacon bloody marys/analog photo booth whose constantly wafting photo processing chemicals were a big contributor to the bar’s nickname of “Poop’s”).

Of course, there’s no word yet on what sort of music Krouse will book. But at this point, simply being able to legally have live music at all seems like a small win.

[Photo: Jeremy Brooks]

Prodigal Son

W. Kamau Bell Returns With a Month-Long Residency at Cynic Cave

The latest Bay Area comic to make it big is back for a month-long residency at everyone’s favorite little comedy basement. Every Saturday in September, W. Kamau Bell will be anchoring the Cynic Cave’s weekly showcase.

Thanks to Bell’s notority, advance tickets sold out within two weeks. His show “Totally Biased” ran for two seasons on FX and FXX to somewhat mixed reviews. But it regularly pushed a lot of boundaries—see the Jim Norton misogyny debate, for starters—while championing diversity. However, the show failed to pull in ratings, and was cancelled in November of 2013.

The silver lining? That might mean seeing more of Bell back in the Bay. Despite advance tickets selling out for this round (though you might be able to snag some at the door), Cynic Cave producer George Chen hinted that Bell might be back for a similar run in the winter.

Bell’s stint is the latest example of the logic-defying pull of the most unlikely of comedy stages in the Bay Area. Lost Weekend Video’s financial troubles are well documented, but the 30-something seat room in its basement continues to produce great local talent and attract awesome, alternative national acts. On almost any night of the week, you can catch great stuff, and their Saturday showcase is possibly my favorite on-going show in the Bay Area.

“I like to think the reputation has been built partly through booking, we have headliners that are on the cusp of bigger gigs and they all talk to each other and love San Francisco audiences,” says George Chen. “Certainly the physical features of the room make it unique. Many people attribute the low ceilings to the intimacy and the acoustics [of the room]. The laughs just fill out and become contagious.”

No one is is sure about the future of the venue at this point, and it would be pretty terrible to lose it while it’s got inertia. Chen says he wants Lost Weekend “to be like the UCB Theater in LA, where no matter what night you go, you’ll be sure to have a high-quality affordable show to attend.” In many ways, they’re already there.

Stay up to date with the shows on their Fcebook page, including any announcement of a future Bell residency.

[Photo: Matthias Clamer/FX]


Burned-Out Mission Street Shops to Be Torn Down

If you’ve been by the site of yesterday’s five-alarm fire at 22nd and Mission, this news likely comes at no surprise: the building is slated for an emergency demolition, possibly taking place later today. Via ABC 7:

San Francisco firefighters continue to monitor flare-ups in the rubble. Because this space was used for storage, they expect more flare-ups once they are allowed to move through the debris inside. Engineers say it still is not safe to enter. San Francisco fire officials describe the building as, “dangerous and heavily compromised in both structure and integrity.”

“I would say 95 percent of the roof either burned off or fell through into the building. We also have what appears to be a second floor or mezzanine collapse down to the first floor. And we have a problem with two barring walls on the exterior, also the front wall is cracked and we’re worried about that possibly falling off into mission street,” explained Assistant Chief David Franklin.

While the size of the pile of debris pulled out of the building isn’t completely visible from the first picture, it is sizable. And burned remains of cheap, imported goods is visibly stacked to the ceiling:

Exhausted-looking firemen were still battling the blaze late into the night, with two hoses spraying down the building as of 11pm last night—some ten hours after the fire broke out.

According to ABC 7, the building had been previously cited for its poor conditions:

The fire chief said the business where the fire started has been cited twice in 2009 and 2013 for overcrowded conditions and narrow exit routes, but could not say at this point if clutter contributed to the fire.

That fact is fueling the rumors that this was an act of arson, although it is both premature and impossible to know what happened.  It was previously reported that an arson team would investigate the building, but because of the imminent risk of collapse, they couldn’t enter the structure. Now, it seems, a complete investigation is unlikely, as the remains will be little more than rubble by the end of the weekend.

Sad Burrito News

Taqueria Cancún's Future At Risk Over Landlord And Lease Issues

Being nominated as one of the top burritos places in the country ought to be cause for celebration, but for local favorite Taqueria Cancún, the situation is anything but bright. FiveThirtyEight reports:

The taqueria has been without a lease for more than a year, since the building’s owner, whom [Taqueria Cancún’s co-owner Gerardo Rico] described like a patron saint, passed away. The owner’s family isn’t sure what to do with the place, so Cancún is currently on a month-to-month lease. I asked what would happen to the restaurant. “Who knows,” he said, taking a deep breath.

If that is not enough of a kick to the gut, it turns out that the restaurant’s very popularity may in fact be contributing to a potential recent drop in quality.

Between [comedian Marc Maron’s] endorsement and extra customers from some competition, there had been lines out the door for weeks. His employees were overworked and tired. Rico was worried the quality of the food would decline.

With such a precarious lease situation, and such high demand for property in the Mission, the possibility that Taqueria Cancún may be forced to close its flagship location on Mission and 19th is very real.

At least we can take comfort in the knowledge that if Taqueria Cancún goes the way of so many of their other displaced peers, we’ll always have Tacolicious and Bandidos.

[Photo: Andrew Mai, via SF Eater]

There Will Be Pancakes

Artists’ Television Access Throws Marathon Screening Party

In celebration of its thirty years supporting underground media and experimental artists in the Bay Area, Artist’s Television Access is throwing a thirty hour marathon screening and party. Starting today at 1:00 PM and continuing straight through to 7:00 PM Saturday evening, the (essentially) mini-festival features the work of over 98 artists (I counted), plenty of beer, and a 6:00 AM coffee and pancake breakfast.

As noted by Mission Local, this celebration comes at the end of what has been a successful fundraising effort led by ATA, which will allow for the purchase of “[new] projectors, a refinished floor and space to archive film data.”

Briefly mentioned in the Mission Local piece is the fact that ATA’s lease is up for renegotiation at the end of next year, a situation that has meant the end of numerous businesses and organizations on Valencia over the past few years. However, the capital improvements ATA is sinking into the building suggest they are confident they will weather the renegotiation process (though we’ve seen this exact same situation end tragically for a community space before).

Artists’ Television Access is asking for a sliding scale donation of $7.00 - $10.00, though no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

[Mission Local]


Large Fire Is Ripping Through Mission Street Dollar Stores

The plastic-smelling smoke currently whafting through Southern Mission is coming from a fire in two Mission Street dollar stores between 22nd and 23rd. Details are sketchy, but buildings across the street, including the US Bank Building, have been emptied out due to the smoke. We’ll update if we learn more.

Update: It is now a three-alarm fire:

Update 2:05pm: The fire seems to be spreading, as far sound as the Payless and Verizon stores, and making its way torwards the Sketcher’s store at the corner. Smoke is still billowing from the burning buildings:

The smoke has reportedly “blanketed” Potrero Hill, and has filled most of Inner Mission.

According to Mission Local, this is one of the worst fires seen in the Mission in recent years. We agree with that assessment.

Update 2:20pm: Fifth alarm:

[Second and third photos via tipsters]

Cake Punch

The Tropics Are a Colorful Place

Local Indie-poppers The Tropics are set to release their debut EP “Wind House” with Breakup Records on the 28th of October, and are gearing up to do it in style. In addition to playing a show at El Rio (one of this author’s favorite places to make questionable choices under the cover of palm trees) on September 11th, they just dropped this absurdly dope video.

Filmed in 48 hours during The Music Video Race, and featuring both strong vocals and a dude fist-slamming a cake, the video for Sons & Daughters attempts to “uphold the timeless essence of the city.”

The slow motion shot of a band member licking an unknown colorful substance off a mannequin head makes a strong case for the video’s success.