New Place to Do Whippits and Cook Meth

Gashead Tavern, Mission Street's Latest Forbidding Bar

I took one look at this sign and thought it was inviting me to break bread in Walter White’s blood-soaked cook lab*.  Or, even worse, it’s a post-apocalyptic burner hangout.  Alas, “Gashead Tavern” seems to be neither of those things (grim signage aside).

Seemingly named after the fans of the Bristol Rovers soccer team (and not people who suck down too much nitrous on the Playa), Gashead looks to serve “British pub-style food with California flair,” with a menu “designed” by Lower Haight’s Greenburger’s, Tablehopper reports.  What’s more?

The [owners] collaborated on the revamped Murio’s Trophy Room in the Upper Haight and have brought on the same design team, Haleh Cunningham and Bernadette Holmes of Thornbird Styling, to do the interior. Cunningham tells us that since it’s a Spanish Colonial building and the owners are two English guys, the look will reflect nods to both… The look will be eclectic, with custom and modern lighting, and since Sargent has quite the collection of midcentury chairs, the seating will be groovy, with clean lines.


It’s worth mentioning that there’s a range of opinions on what happened to Murio’s after their upscale-ish revamp—many of them unkind—and anything shouting cocktails and “modern lighting” these days is automatically suspect.  But, hey, there’s no harm in reserving judgement.

From the looks of it, and based on past reports, they’ll be opening on Mission between 19th and 20th in the coming weeks.

*Someone please open a meth lab-themed restaurant called “Breaking Bread.”

UPDATE: The Attic closed yesterday, so it looks like Gashead will be opening any day now.


Shitty Situation

Place Pigalle Shuttered By Retaliatory, Sewage-Leaking Landlords

Parish Entertainment Group has been having a real tough go at the bar business lately.  It was less than a year ago that Brick & Mortar Music Hall was hit with “numerous restrictions” thanks to aurally-sensitive neighbors and an allegedly corrupt entertainment commissioner.  Now, according to a sign posted in the etched window of Hayes Valley’s Place Pigalle, their dive bar’s lease was rescinded by their retaliatory landlord.

“After enduring 3 years of raw sewage leaks and water leaks from the upstairs apartments at 520 Hayes St, Place Pigalle was forced to call in city inspectors to stop the health and electrical hazards to their employees and customers,” they write in the letter, noting that inspections lead to “immediate citations.”  They continue:

What Place Pigalle did not anticipate is that in retribution for alerting the city officials to the ongoing sewage, water and electrical issues, Hayes Valley Properties would decide to rescind our lease here at Place Pigalle and announce that the owners of Hayes Valley Properties would instead open their own bar in our location very shortly.

A business puts serious work into making a spot successful, decides they are over having the pipes drop ones and twos on their heads, and the landlord decides it’d be easier to run the business themselves than stop the shit shower.  Sounds like the type of people you’d want to buy a beer from!

The money graph lands at the end:

Welcome to the New San Francisco. The only place where the Super Rich can literally crap on the rest of us, violate city codes, steal our businesses and dare us to do something.

[h/t Patrick Connors]

It's Complicated

Another Googler (And Serial Evictor) Personally Targeted in Ellis Act Protests

Friday morning Eviction Free San Francisco blocked another Google bus to draw attention to evictions by landlord Jack Halprin at 812 Guerrero. Halprin is currently facing a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court alleging wrongful eviction from a former tenant, while the remaining tenants in his seven unit building, including two teachers, are facing evictions under the Ellis Act, which Halprin filed less than a year after moving in.  It has been alleged that his intent is to create a single-family home out of the multi-unit building.

Besides being a landlord and Google employee, who is Jack Halprin?  Is he really the worst?

According to his Google Plus profile, Halprin enjoys craft spirits, mosh pits, science fiction movies and his “work related passions” are “information governance, data management, the preservation obligation and compliance related issues.” Halprin made a small donation to EQCA in 2008 during the fight against Prop 8, has marched with fellow Googlers in San Francisco’s LGBT Pride Parade and, with his domestic partner at the time, Daniel Ortiz, gave thousands of dollars to the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center in 2011.  Seems nice enough!

“Mr. Halprin ensures Google’s legal team has the tools, technology and capabilities to meet e-discovery obligations,” according to a press release for a keynote address to The Masters Conference for Legal Professionals in April of last year.  He left his previous job as Vice President, eDiscovery and Compliance at British information technology firm Autonomy shortly before it was purchased by Hewlett-Packard in a $12 billion acquisition which HP later had to mostly write off.

He’s currently helping customers of the Postini service Google acquired in 2007 to Google Apps Vault, a product which he helped announce in 2012 shortly before signing the deed to his building. Google Apps Vault offers tools for companies that use Google Apps to respond quickly to document discovery requests like archived emails when defending themselves from civil litigation and other matters, tools which Google presumably uses in-house as well.  So he’s not exactly working on military robot technology.  But you could argue that he does help Google defend itself from lawsuits over the company’s controversial privacy and employment practices.

A few months after joining Google, in March of 2012, he and Ortiz bought the building together at 812 Guerrero and Halprin moved in, evicting a former tenant in the process. Ortiz, however, remained in Venice, California according to tenants.  On August 30th of 2012, an eviction notice was served to 20-year building tenant Susan Coss, Halprin’s neighbor in an adjoining apartment.  Ostensibly, Ortiz would be moving into the unit from his home in Venice and making it his primary residence for the next three years.

Halprin allowed Coss to stay in her unit until November 16th, a couple of weeks after the date on the notice, but according to Coss’s attorney Joe Tobener, he and Ortiz filed for separation on November 10th.  And after Coss left, the wrongful eviction lawsuit alleges Halprin proceeded to merge her unit into his as part of an unpermitted remodel.  A check of the online San Francisco Property Information Map database shows two permits on file for 2013, neither of which were for a unit merger.

Halprin later filed for an Ellis Act eviction on the property to empty the rest of the building, possibly in retaliation for supporting their neighbor Coss in the lawsuit according to one of the remaining tenants, Johnny, who spoke from the steps of his building during the evening protest. In the press release announcing the protests, Johnny had stated “I don’t think rich Google lawyers should be able to come into a neighborhood and buy a piece of property that is a rental property and then quickly evict everyone there to make a bigger profit.  I think it’s unethical.”

Halprin told Mission Local that “I do not intend to turn this into condos.” On the one hand, to merge the entire building into a single-family home might require a ten year wait after the Ellis eviction. On the other, typically the buildings are immediately converted to a Tenancy in Common, which, technically, is not a condominium.  The building has been designated a “Potential Historic Resource,” meaning any signficant renovations could require more than just permits from the Planning Department.

Voicemail messages left for Halprin and his attorney, Edward Rodzewich, have not been returned. Rodzewich did formally reply to the wrongful eviction lawsuit on behalf of Halprin, denying all the charges.

Reached by phone, Tobener was optimistic that Coss would prevail. “Their only defense is that they thought they were going to reconcile,” he argued before noting that Halprin didn’t see fit to mention to Coss that he and Ortiz had separated mere days before Coss had agreed to leave. Regardless, tenants say that Ortiz never moved in, thereby violating the primary residence requirement.

A case management conference for the parties in the suit set for April 23rd was recently cancelled, and a jury trial remains scheduled for March 16th, 2015.  After rattling off a number of other, disgruntingly similar cases being handled by his firm (which exclusively represents tenants), Tobener admitted that “three years ago, this wouldn’t have been newsworthy.”  But then these are crazy times in “The Quad.”  Business Insider reporter Kyle Russell, who was in San Francisco to cover the evening protest, reports that later (and not at the march), a “random person went after me for wearing Glass.”

Supervisor Scott Wiener (who’s District 8 includes Halprin’s property) stayed to walk with neighbors even after enduring shouts of “Scott Wiener go home!” by a group including Housing Rights Committee organizer Tommy Avicolli Mecca before the march started moving. Activist Patrick Connors, when asked if he felt that Halprin’s support for LGBT causes and organizations complicated the matter at hand, responded that “Sexual orientation is not a class issue.”  As for the Wiener’s presence in support of tenants? “It’s a reminder that he’s up for re-election.”

“If anything,” he added, “it makes him more baffling.”

The march continued on to 55 Duboce, where another two local teachers face eviction.   As for the tenants at 812 Guerrero still facing the Ellis eviction, the protests may not be able to save anyone’s home, but they might put more pressure onto Mayor Ed Lee to quickly sign recent legislation passed by the Board of Supervisors significantly increasing the mandated minimums for relocation payments. Tenants evicted under Ellis who haven’t yet vacated will be entitled to the Rental Payment Differential provisions starting 90 days from the effective date of the ordinance once they do.  If Lee doesn’t sign it, or attempt to veto it, the bill will become law on April 19th.

Art on the Road

Watch Zio Ziegler Paint Cinelli HQ

Zio Ziegler has been covering San Francisco’s walls with killer murals for years (some of his finest neighborhood examples include the old Sycamore mural and a piece on the side of Campfire Gallery), but lately he’s been taking his art on the road.  Take his lately work: a twisted bike-themed mural painted outside of Italian bike manufacturer Cinelli’s headquarters.  It’s quite a piece!  And the timelapse of its painting is worth a watch:

[via Rolling Stone Italy]

Picture Party

Free Tacos and Beer Saturday at Chrome's Mission Shop Opening

Chrome’s new Valencia Street shop has been open for a few weeks now, but they’re just getting around to throwing a grand opening party.  They promise free beer and tacos, and live tattooing.  Plus, they’ll be having a charity photo show featuring local photographer Travis Jensen, who’s been taking some pretty killer snaps of the neighborhood over the years.

Travis writes:

Titled “Mission District: Feet On The Street”, show is a collection of 35mm film, digital and iPhone images snapped on the streets of San Francisco’s vibrant Mission District. All proceeds from pieces sold/raffled will go to Chalk SF, a youth run, peer-to-peer employment program targeting at-risk youth by placing them in paid jobs typically staffed by adults. Chrome has also made a limited edition series of books with my images from the show as well as other SF-themed selects, which will be available for sale at show. All proceeds from books sold will also go to Chalk SF.

Party kicks off at 7pm Saturday!


This Crazy, Old Zoning Trick Probably Won't Solve Your Housing Situation

At some point, technology reporters will figure out that maybe it’s not the best idea to wander off their beat and wade into the roiling torrent of housing affordability and real estate development issues without doing some homework first.  Until then, insecurity and defensiveness will keep giving us gems like Nick Bilton’s “The Housing Market With Nowhere to Go (but Up)” and the latest, from Berkeley-based Business Insider reporter Kyle Russell, “This One Intersection Explains Why Housing Is So Expensive In San Francisco.”

The intersection that’s responsible for all of San Francisco’s problems—because it’s officially the worst—is 10th and Irving, one of many intersections in a large area of San Francisco that is zoned for a maximum of four stories. But many of the buildings only reach two stories! Ipso facto, we should relax zoning regulations to allow developers to build as high as they like, even though they haven’t yet seen fit to do so in a neighborhood that’s not particularly close to San Francisco’s job centers and even farther from the jobs in Silicon Valley. (They are, however, building 89.9% more luxury high rises than we need in the Tenderloin and SOMA, already the densest area of the city.)

Of course, more and less reasonable appeals to deregulate modern urban development have been made at least since the 1961 publication of Jane Jacobs’ “The Death and Life of Modern American Cities,” but a partner at startup investment racket Y Combinator made the argument for the millionth time on Twitter last weekend, so Business Insider was on it.  Publisher Henry Blodget, who turned to journalism after being banned from finance for life after allegedly touting terrible investments during the dot-boom, promoted the post in an all-caps shout as the solution to San Francisco’s housing affordability crisis. Please, SanFransplain it to us!

San Franciscans demanding sunlight in their parks?  “Ridiculous,” declares Blodget.  Of course, there are plenty of New Yorkers fighting against luxury supertowers for billionaires next to Central Park, and regulations mandating structural accommodations for street-level sunlight are as old as the Woolworth Building. While it’s true that median rent in San Francisco is disgruntingly high at $1,493, in Brooklyn it’s nearly twice as much at $2,900 and it’s even worse in Manhattan. The neo-liberal, supply-side development policies of the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations weren’t able to build a way to affordability there, what makes anyone think it would work differently here?

Russell, who blamed the lack of residential towers on the west side on “a distinct anti-growth culture in San Francisco,” didn’t see fit to mention that San Francisco has been undergoing a building boom for years while many of the same zoning limits probably apply in his own Berkeley neighborhood. He also ignored the low-density suburban sprawl surrounding technology company campuses in Silicon Valley, where he covers “Apple, enterprise startups, semiconductor chip makers, and cloud software.”

Besides real estate and urban development, Russell also doesn’t cover geology.  While we’re looking at maps, here’s one of liquifaction zones during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The fact that the Funset is built on top of sand dunes doesn’t make it impossible to build tall buildings, but it sure does make it expensive.  A friend and former structural renovator in San Francisco also pointed out to Uptown Almanac that ramps or elevators are required to accomodate tenants with limited mobility, like the elderly and disabled, which isn’t easy in vertical buildings on small lots. So maybe we should hack the building codes, too!  All of which would certainly make it a friendly environment for greedy, rapacious real estate developers while incidentally taking the pressure off affluent municipalities on the Peninsula to build enough housing and transit to serve the corporations they’ve welcomed as neighbors.

To be fair, no one knows a quick fix for any of this, and if they say they do, they’re probably trying to sell you a scam (or shitty tech stocks).  It’s a process that lots of people have been working on for decades, resulting in informed, detailed proposals from the likes of the Council of Community Housing Organizations and the Mayor’s Office.  And the Council has probably already considered Business Insider’s one crazy idea that will fix San Francisco forever.  It’s not even a problem that’s unique to San Francisco, but our beautiful backdrop happens to be a particularly romantic setting for all the drama, so even as many of the same problems beset London, Londoners fly here to watch it play out.

Housing prices in San Francisco may be pushing our lovable hipsters into ever lower-income neighborhoods (and other, far more vulnerable populations even further toward the margins), but in promoting laissez faire development, earthquake-prone structural engineering, ableist housing discrimination and intractible income inequality, the dream of the 1890s will live on in San Francisco if the business trades have anything to say about it.

[Photos: Frank Farm and Zero One]

Haute Damn

High-Class Hot Dogs: Thing That Exists Now

Hipster foodie sensibilities have already co-opted pickles, bacon, juice, mac ‘n’ cheese, ice cream, and cupcakes and made them fancy (I love fancy cupcakes), and now it seems the sights have been set on sexing up hot dogs.  That’s right, these aren’t your everyday Mission dogs: these are Haute Dogs:

The Haute Dog is an all-beef hot dog baked in a mustard-seed croissant, and then topped with whole grain mustard and housemade salt and vinegar beet chips. […]

“We decided to focus on our version of the hot dog, and have some fun with that. We started playing with different compound butters and different flavors for the croissant, though what we really liked was the texture — and that’s where the chips came in,” he says. In other words, it’s basically like the adult version of putting chips in your sandwich.

Craftsman and Wolves’ William Werner is responsible for the $6.50 luxdog, who tells the Chronicle the inspiration for meat parts stick innovation came from Japan, “A friend of mine brings in all this Japanese denim. Last time he was there, he texted me this picture of — I don’t even know what – some meat product.”

Japanese denim and unidentifiable meat? They’re definitely onto something here.

But not everyone is sold.  The Bold Italic has already taken a shot at the haute dog, comparing it a sun-baked clam:

Still, is it just me, or does the Haute Dog look like something that spent way too much time out in the sun? Or, if you’re pervy, does the bun not seem a little suggestive? Vaginal even?

That’s the most unappetizing vagina I’ve ever seen.  I can’t wait to see if they roll out a vegan version.

[Inside Scoop]