Activism

Gaggle of Pink Gorillas Bustin' Moves on Valencia

Was this some sort of gorilla guerrilla protest against Taqueria el Buen Sabor's meh flavors, or merely a spontaneous pink apeshit dance party?

UPDATE: Ed Casey also caught video of the mob in Union Square, noting:

There was no music and no discernible message… Just a pack of pink gorillas doing some sort of busted ass ring around the rosie. 

[Photo by Dexn and Flexn]

Occupy Wall St. Protester Jumps In Front of BART Train, Somehow Doesn't Die

Around 4pm yesterday, a washed-up William H. Macy-looking character decided he was 'sick and tired' of big bank's corporate greed and jumped in front of a southbound BART train, somehow not getting hit by it.  So, with his fragile life intact, he went on ranting and apologizing for making people late for a solid 5 minutes before chillin' out with the third rail:

Admist all the excitement, the notoriously trigger-happy BART PD deployed a shotgun-equiped army to deal with the situation.  And deal with it they did.  Eventually pulling the guy off the tracks, cuffing him, and letting people make their boring journey down to Daly City.

[Thanks for the heads up, Tuffy!]

The Bummer That is Parking in the Mission Nails El Tonayense Taco Truck

Parking in the Mission sucks.  It sucks so hard that we routinely circle the neighborhood in search of parking for dozens (dozens!) of minutes on end; rage building and building and building until we're screaming out our car windows like lunatic wolfpeople, hoping to scare someone into a frenzied getaway dash to their parked car just so we can take their damned spot.

Those very woes have finally come to torment the neighborhood's most valued parked vehicle, the taco truck.  When El Tonayense's truck rolled up to their usual spot at 17th and Harrison at 10am this morning, there was no where to plop the wheels down and start grilling up lunch.  So, like most rational people, they parked across the street in a loading zone while waiting for a spot to free up.

Thankfully, Mission Local's Rigoberto Hernandez was there to witness the awful scene that followed:

A leather goods company in front wouldn’t have any of it and asked the meter maids to force the truck out, which they did by issuing El Tonayense a parking ticket. The taco truck left, but came back an hour later after some of the cars moved from the westside curb.

It’s never happened before,” said one of the truck operators.

This is bullshit.  I refuse to live in a world in which The Best Meal On Four Wheels is forced to retreat back to the lot from which it came because it can't find parking.  Can someone get Scott Wiener on the case?

Chase Bank to Open Branch on Valencia St., Neighbors Lining Up in Opposition

Following this morning's post about the view from the new condos at 299 Valencia (at 14th), we began receiving word from a few readers about a Chase Bank moving into the first floor retail space (which a job posting confirms as true).  From one such tipster:

By the way, do you know who one of the tenants will be at the god awful condo at 14th/Valencia? None other that Chase bank. Ergh. A group was trying to push back against this, but since big banks aren't currently included in formula retail law, they kinda gave up.

That group is focused around a Change.org petition created by Quinn Avery asking Chase Bank to “cease plans to build a new branch on 14th and Valencia in San Francisco.”  The petition reads:

This petition represents the residents of San Francisco who, in support of local and communal commerce, demand that plans to build a Chase Bank branch on 14th Street and Valencia cease immediately. While there are two Chase branches in the immediate vicinity (within several blocks), this plan to dominate banking in the area represents a larger dilemma in the Mission district and beyond. The branch’s planned location is 299 Valencia, a new loft residence currently under construction. The starting price of these lofts is $400,000. People of color and the poor will be further pushed out of the neighborhood by such housing units. Chase Bank funds foreclosure and purchases apartment buildings in San Francisco, evicting low-income, senior, and disabled tenants. Chase Bank pushes families out of the neighborhood, but also forecloses upon them nationwide for profit. By signing this petition against the opening of a new Chase branch on 14th and Valencia, you show your support of local San Francisco business against big business, big banks, and for-profit home foreclosure and eviction. San Francisco does not need another Chase branch, but rather more communal and locally owned and operated endeavors.

While the Occupy Wall Street sales pitch will likely fall on deaf ears in the neighborhood, the situation, yet again, raises the important question: is this the type of business we want to see on Valencia?

Valencia Merchants are understandably sensitive about corporate businesses moving onto the street, fearing their foray into the neighborhood will provoke landlords to evict local businesses in an effort to raise rents.  Never mind the fact a big Chase facade will just look horribly out of place on an otherwise good-looking stretch of Valencia.  And while American Apparel was blocked from moving onto Valencia in 2009 by way of San Francisco's anti-formula retail laws, Chase Bank faces no such threat, as the Planning Commission ruled that banks are not subjected to the legislation.

We're told that, in a last-ditch effort, neighbors have gotten together and pushed Supervisors Mar and Olague to co-sponsor an amendment that would classify “financial services” as formula retail, allowing neighbors to weigh in on Chase moving onto Valencia.  There's a hearing scheduled for April 12th at City Hall to review the issue, but the situation already looks pretty grim for the neighbors.

[Original Photo by Curbed SF]

Viral Marketing for Controversial 'KONY 2012' Campaign Arrives in the Mission District

This actually took longer to appear than I had expected. Over the weekend, a bunch of lazy graffiti imploring Mission residents to 'STOP KONY 2012' popped up along the 24th St corridor. But the intended message of this graffiti is as confused as it is ugly. Forgive my semantic anal retentiveness, but Invisible Children's campaign to bring Joseph Kony to justice is called 'KONY 2012', not 'STOP KONY 2012'. And considering the high degree criticism and scrutiny IC's campaign has received, you can't help but ask who is actually behind this graffiti and what their message really is.

  • Was it elitist San Francisco pessimists who want to discredit Invisible Children and the 'KONY 2012' campaign's call to perpetuate the cycles of regional violence and neocolonialism in Africa? Because they literally want to 'STOP [the] KONY 2012 [campaign]'? The kind of people who can't appreciate the sincerity of an awareness campaign that has fostered more involvement, however cursory, from apathetic American youth than ever before?
  • Or is this just the work of misinformed armchair activists? Kids who watched a viral YouTube video, had a good cry, and then let some advertising campaign shape their worldview for them? People who bought a 'hella swag' t-shirt for $30, which is enough to buy an Ugandan Army soldier/rapist a new Kalashnikov so he can 'kill Joseph Kony/commit his own atrocities'? 

Either way, whether you're for or against Invisible Children's KONY2012 campaign, its methods or its message, it doesn't matter what you think. Read about the history of the conflict. Read about the state of current affairs. Read about the background of Invisible Children. Most importantly, read about what Ugandans themselves think of KONY2012 before you decide that you, and the San Diego-based Invisible Children, know what's best for Africa. Do this, and then make an informed decision about who to send your money to, and how you can most effectively and directly help Uganda, even if it's not the trendy choice.

La Boulange Bakery Moving Into the Former 'The Summit' Space June 1st?

UPDATE: We've posted a follow-up to this story, with responses from i/o Ventures and La Boulange.

We've been hearing a lot of rumors lately about the location formerly occupied by The Summit on Valencia at 19th.  A couple weeks ago, “Chicken” John Rinaldi dropped us a note telling us that a realtor friend of his had learned that Bay Area bakery chain La Boulange was slated to move into The Summit early this Summer.  Of course, Chicken John has a, ahem, “controversial” reputation around these sorts of matters, so we weren't sure what to make of it.

But then on Feb. 2nd, Mission Local published a story about 780 Cafe replacing The Summit, once again repeating the rumor that La Boulange was supposed to move in, giving the rumor another dose of credibility.

Finally, a board member of the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association recently told us that the organization is holding an “emergency meeting” on March 5th to discuss La Boulange, “'formula retail' moving into The Summit,” and the fact that the rent on that space is being raised to $30,000/month.

If all this sounds highly questionable, it's because it is. SF's Dept. of Building Inspection's database shows that no building permits have been filed at 780 Valencia St. in 11 months—and neither i/o Ventures (the owner of the building) nor La Boulange have returned our phone calls or emails.  But when three individuals and organizations repeat the same rumor, it gives us pause.

What we have managed to learn makes the situation sound very sketchy.  We're told that i/o Ventures ran into some “financial trouble” and responded by doubling monthly rent for The Summit and the desks rented to start-ups and freelancers; the monthly cost of a desk rose to $500, while The Summit’s rent was increased to an unbelievable 30 grand. Allegedly the only businesses interested in paying that much for a Valencia Street coffee shop was Starbucks and La Boulange.  i/o Ventures ended up choosing La Boulange.

Under 2006's Proposition G, any retail business with 11 or more locations is classified as “formula retail” and subjected to a significantly more rigorous approval process—the same process that brought a proposed Valencia St. American Apparel to its knees in early 2009.  La Boulange already operates 17 locations in the Bay Area, with 11 shops in San Francisco, and they plan to have 25 open by the end of the year.  Owner Pascal Rigo even told the SF Business Times that he intends La Boulange to be a chain that is “too big.”

“We actually are trying to be ‘too big.’ People want us, and we are going to try to give it to them,” said Rigo, who founded Bay Bread in 1995. “I say, there are good chains and there are bad chains. We are going to be a good chain.”

This, of course, is not sitting well with Valencia business.  They're concerned that if one chain moves onto Valencia and pays $30,000 a month in rent—an amount no small entrepreneur can pay, but a bakery with $60-90 million in revenue can—landlords will refuse to renew the leases of local businesses hoping to hike up the rent. This lease to La Boulange could set a dangerous precedent that would jeopardize the futures of many Valencia merchants.

And then there's that Mission Local article about 780 Cafe opening up, which is shaping up to be an even sadder story. We're told the owner, Jose, is being given use of the space rent-free for the months until La Boulange moves in, just to help keep the place afloat. Then he’s being kicked out, despite fronting money for permits and having his entire family quit their jobs to help run the cafe.

As we said, we're maintaining this is all speculation until someone can give us a definitive answer on this (and we're encouraging anyone who can provide us with more info to drop us a note).  But, rest assured, Valencia merchants and activists are already gearing up for a fight.

Earth-Loving Activists 'Hack' BofA ATMs to Remind You That BofA Sucks

The folks of the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) ran around San Francisco last night 'hacking' Bank of America's many ATMs into “Automated Truth Machines.”  Here's how:

RAN activists took to the streets of San Francisco and turned every single one of Bank of America's Automated Teller Machines in the city into Automated Truth Machines. Using special non-adhesive stickers that were designed to look exactly like BoA's ATM interface, the activists gave the bank's customers a menu of what their money is being used for, including investment in coal-fired power plants, foreclosure on America's homes, bankrolling climate change, and paying out fat executive bonuses.

It's part of RAN's new tumblr-based “Bankrupting America” campaign, which is full of a lot of neat photoshops and text I didn't read.  But it looks nice, and we can all agree that BofA kinda sucks.

Now, let's hope they figure out how to hack these things for real.

[Link | h/t Haighteration]

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