Dolores Buzzkill

SFPD Back to Hassling Dolores Park Picnickers Over Booze

Last month, we reported that Dolores Park’s irritable neighbors were once again demanding SFPD to increase their patrolling of the park. Now, according to SFist, cops were in the park yesterday afternoon giving grief to people drinking.

[We’d] just like to inform you that we’re receiving a first-person account today of cops roaming through a mildly crowded southern half of the park on this beautiful, sunny Wednesday afternoon, forcing people to empty their bottles and cans into the grass. So rude.

SFist goes on to remind us that, yes, it is illegal to drink and smoke cigarettes in the park. While those “quality of life crimes” have never been a typical high priority for the department, it seems the pressure to crackdown in Dolores is back on.

[SFist, Photo: colleenvonhenry]


"Lazy is the New Cool," Says Forthcoming Hammock Cafe

No longer content with mere reclaimed wood adorning their cafes, hopeful Mission District coffee shop proprietors have been scouring the globe for new ways make their locations stand out. First, KitTea borrowed the idea of pairing tea with cats from Japan, creating America’s first-ever cat cafe. Now there’s Paresse Café, a hammock and “exotic fish tank table” cafe that’s slated to open this fall on “San Francisco’s historic Valencia Street.” 

Paresse Café’s overly optimistic $150,000 IndieGoGo campaign explains the absurdity:

Inspired by the fact that we all deserve a happy break from the work and the stress in our daily life but that we have no time nor tele-transportation power to go to Hawaii, we decided to bring an instant of holiday into the city.

Paresse Café will be the first ever Hammock Café in the USA and the first Café in the world where you can enjoy delicious and beautiful Art Food raw fruits and vegetables salads or cold pressed juice cocktails, while admiring happy & rescued colored fishes dancing.

They even created a helpful infographic to help us better understand their vision:

Paresse will also be offering 20 minute “seated massages,” monthly art exhibitions, and a daily 6-7pm “lazy hour” featuring live musicians, who will play for record sale proceeds and promotion on Paresse’s website “to help them get famous.”

Below, their crowdfunding promotional video:

[via SF Weekly]

Animal House

Free Beer and Animals at Tonight's SF SPCA's Adoption Center Grand Re-Opening

SF SPCA’s Mission District adoption center (and venue for many fine animal-filled parties) has been under renovation for the better part of a year, but they’re ready to unveil their new digs this evening. Promising new features like an “indoor dog park and San Francisco-themed cat condos,” the SPCA states the new space-saving setup will allow them to “save an extra 1,000 lives each year.”

“When our old adoption center opened in 1998, it was the first shelter in the country to house animals in condominium-style rooms instead of cages,” said SF SPCA co-president Jason Walthall. “Our old shelter changed the way adoptions happen and vastly improved the lives of shelter animals. With our new adoption center we’re once again setting the standard for shelters across the country; it’s the perfect example of why San Francisco is one of the most progressively humane cities in the world.”

The new adoption center was designed to make animals as comfortable and safe as possible during their stay at the shelter. An indoor dog park will give dogs the opportunity to play, socialize, and meet their new families. Meanwhile, cats will enjoy more vertical space to climb, play, and explore. In addition, the shelter features a new section for small mammals like rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs.

The party goes from 4-10pm tonight at 16th and Florida, and comes stocked with “an open bar, several food truck options, and fee-waived adoptions for adult animals.” Also, there will be cats on the Golden Gate Bridge.


Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi is Running For Re-Election Despite Domestic Violence Charge

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi is fucked. While some think of him as a victim of an Ed Lee-driven witchhunt against progressives, most see him as a wife-beating monster unfit for office. Voters wanted to see him removed from office by a 2-to-1 margin, political insiders shun him, and tech billionaires are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to remind voters of the charges once filed against Mirkarimi.

Yet in spite of being politically finished, Mirkarimi is running for re-election, according to papers filed earlier this year with the city’s Ethics Commission.

Perhaps even more bizarre than the fact Mirkarimi is bothering with running is that he’s keeping the campaign a secret. Typically, politicians celebrate filing re-election paperwork with a rally on the steps of City Hall, hoping to drum up some media attention and campaign donations. But for Mirkarimi, it was just boring old paperwork. In fact, he hasn’t even mentioned the campaign to the press since The Chronicle interviewed him about a prospective run last October.

And when it comes to money, Mirkarimi’s future looks even more grim. Financial data for Mirkarimi’s 2015 campaign committee hasn’t yet been posted by the Ethics Commission. However, his January filing indicates he raised no money in 2013, and his campaign account balance is so low that Wells Fargo is charging him a monthly service fee.

According to The Chronicle, domestic violence advocates are already looking at potential challengers. As Beverly Upton of San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium put it, “I don’t believe that San Francisco will have amnesia.”

Making Good Use of Our Crumbling Stock of Theaters

The Grand Theater to Become Performance Venue and "Cultural Incubator"

After sitting derelict following the closure of its occupying 99¢ store, Mission Street’s Grand Theater has been taken over by the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts with the goal of turning the space into a media center, venue with capacity for 500 people, and training facility.  Their press release is chock-full of buzzword gobbledygook, but it sounds like a welcome addition to the neighborhood:

Taking inspiration from startup incubators and co-working spaces, Gray Area’s cultural incubator will blur the lines between culture and commerce, providing a framework to amplify social impact, reach a sustainable practice, and scale up. Over the next decade, the program will be home to hundreds of civic and creative projects that have been developed and will be developed by our ongoing initiatives. […]

Members will be an eclectic group of creative practitioners representing a large variety of disciplines including: creative code, product design, interactive installation, performance, architecture, urban planning, film, data science, gaming, writing, journalism, music, and many more. Beyond developing their own projects, members will be showcasing and performing their work to a public audience in the Theater. […]

Last year, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Gray Area $100,000 to develop an immersive theater for experimental surround cinema with Recombinant Media Labs. While the grant allowed for us to secure this historic building, we will be raising additional funds from our community and institutional partners.

They go on to mention that they locked down a 10 year lease on the space, reminding us that the “current real estate market is pricing cultural organizations out of San Francisco. This campaign brings back a historic cinema to the creative community at a critical time in the city’s history.”

Of course, they have a grip of work ahead of them.  The gutted theater currently looks like an abandoned office:

Which they plan on turning (in part) into this:

Perhaps the most promising aspect of the forthcoming 10,000 square foot space is their slate of public programming:

Gray Area’s consistent, diverse programming is an interface between artist and audience. In a single month, we will produce a dozen events including artistic performances, classes, creative prototyping nights, meetups, film screenings, panel discussions, and local community meetings regarding pressing issues.

No opening date has been released, but we’ll be keeping an eye out for it.

[Exterior Photo: Dave Nelson]

At Least It Wasn't a Hellhound Infestation

Following Grim Reaper Visitation, Amber Dhara Shut Down For Rat Infestation

Well that was fast: mere weeks after scorned union workers packed up their grim reaper setup outside of Amber Dhara, health inspector Douglas Obana closed the perpetually desolate restaurant over a rat infestation.

“They were closed due to rodent activity in their bar and waiter station,” Obana told Eater SF. “It was a repeat violation. I was there in April and again in early May, and I came back this time and closed them down.”

The restaurant has been provisionally reopened now that (presumably non-union) contractors have been brought in to plug up rat holes in the building’s elevator shaft.  Not that any of this will help their non-existent customer situation.

[Eater SF]


Gun Scare Hits Dolores Park Playground

A tipster sends this facebook post our way:

Two guys fighting with guns in Dolores park, right next to the playground!!! Tones of kids!!! WTF!!!!! I am in shock!!! Right in my neighborhood park!!! No mas!!!!!

We don’t have any details, other than it happened around 1pm this afternoon, but multiple tweets corroborate:

We’ll update when we learn more.

Update: Karen Solomon tweets, “Three guys tried to pull a holdup with a realistic-looking bbgun. Cops got ‘em. No injuries. Just a lot of scared kids.”

Buzzkill at the Ballot Box

The Case Against Prop B

Left: The Ferry Building, as it stands now. Right: The Ferry Building, if it were built under Prop. B’s rules.

The fight over Proposition B, which goes to a vote on Tuesday, June 3rd, has been fairly one-sided thus far.  After crushing the 8 Washington development, which would have allegedly erected a “Wall on the Waterfront,” the unlikely alliance between mega-rich property owners and progressives have enjoyed popular support against waterfront development.  And because of that support, the opposition has been relatively silent regarding the ballot initiative which would require all development over 40 feet on Port property to be approved by voters—so quiet that ordinarily pro-development Mayor Ed Lee and Sup. Scott Wiener aren’t fighting it.

But what makes the situation weird is so many progressives will privately admit that it’s terrible legislation, even if their clubs, employers, or candidates support it.  So why is this a done deal?  Are progressives really concerned about the Giants turning their sprawling parking lot into a public park and housing development?

For a different take on the matter, Mark Hogan recently put out this great case against Prop B.  The whole thing is worth a read, but here’s the meat:

Planning at the ballot box doesn’t make sense because the typical voter doesn’t have the time or background to analyze urban design, land use planning, or the tradeoffs involved in various options. A lot of people walk into the voting booth, read the one line description on the ballot, and vote. The current process for exceeding the height limit on a parcel takes years of meetings (public meetings for anyone interested in attending), approval of the Planning Commission, and approval of the Board of Supervisors. Changing a height limit cannot simply be done with an exception to the planning code: it involves rezoning that piece of land at a taller height, and it is not a simple process.

Our current planning process also has a number of public benefits built in. Developers must comply with affordable housing laws (either through a fee or providing on-site units), fees to pay for infrastructure and they are held to public scrutiny at numerous meetings where public comment is collected.

What is Proposition B proposing? Proposition B would require proposed projects to skip the typical approvals process and instead go to a vote of the people. Why does the City’s Planning Department think this is a bad idea? “There is a potential for developers to circumvent required City review and craft subsequent ballot initiatives that combine height increases with other aspects of project approval.”

How often to voters read the full text of things they are voting on? Not very often, I can assure you. Developers could hypothetically skip many steps of project approval by spending enough money to get a project approved at the ballot box without having to comply with all of the other rules that have been put in place to ensure a good outcome for the City and the residents of the area.

Read on.