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    In the News: 5.02.19

    Supreme Court to Rule on LGBT Rights

    The U.S. Supreme Court on April 22 announced that it would review appeals in three different LGBT-related cases: Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, Bostock v. Clayton County and Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC. Collectively, the cases address whether non-discrimination protections in federal workplace law cover people who identify as transgender and/or gay. The justices are expected to resolve whether the classification of “sex” in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act includes “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” San Francisco Bay Times columnist Ann Rostow reviews the cases and possible outcomes at length in this issue. See page 9.

    Historic Equality Act Markup Takes Place in House Judiciary Committee

    The Democratic-majority U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary initiated the markup of The Equality Act (H.R.5) on May 1. “Markup” refers to the process by which a U.S. congressional committee or state legislative session debates, amends and rewrites proposed legislation. On April 30, the Human Rights Campaign held a national press call “highlighting the critical need and unprecedented support for The Equality Act today.” Filmmaker and author Dustin Lance Black was one of many who urged passage of the Act. The bill in its entirety can be read at https://bit.ly/2Ldurnh

    Hearing Held Concerning Castro LGBTQ Cultural District

    On May 1, the Historic Preservation Commission held a hearing concerning the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District. The hearing followed an ordinance, introduced by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman on April 9, concerning the proposed District. Supervisor Mandelman and other supporters shared that the District “aims to highlight the importance of LGBTQ people to the Castro neighborhood’s history and culture, and ensure we have a place in its future. The Cultural District is a tool that will help to identify the problems LGBTQ people, communities, and allies face, and establish collaborations with City Hall to create effective solutions.” The ordinance will next be presented to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. If approved and finalized by July, the planned District would be eligible to receive hotel tax funds per Proposition E. Details about the boundaries of the District, as laid out in the ordinance, are at https://bit.ly/2XUkhJD

    Senate Bill 50 ‘The More HOMES Act’ Advances

    California state lawmakers on April 24 advanced Senator Scott Wiener’s Senate Bill 50—a proposal that would amend existing housing law in the state and add a chapter to the Government Code related to housing—in order to legalize greater residential density around public transit. The high profile SB50, which would also allow CA property owners to convert single homes into fourplexes, has the support of numerous Bay Area leaders, including San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs. They and other supporters hold that the bill, also called The More HOMES Act, would help to solve California’s housing crisis. That viewpoint is expressed at a website for the nonprofit California YIMBY ( https://cayimby.org/morehomes/ ). Detractors present an impact analysis via the statewide Livable California ( https://www.livablecalifornia.org/sb-50/ ). The entire bill, which still faces a long legislative process ahead, may be read at: https://bit.ly/2LgFhZR

    Port Commission Approves Embarcadero Navigation Center

    Despite opposition from numerous South Beach community members, the San Francisco Port Commission on April 23 unanimously approved construction of a homeless navigation center near the Embarcadero (Seawall Lot 330). Mayor London Breed first proposed in early March that the empty lot near the Bay Bridge be used for a new navigation center. It is part of her goal of expanding the city’s shelter capacity to 1000 beds by 2020. Supervisor Matt Haney praised the Port Commission vote and recently introduced legislation requiring that all districts in the city have at least one homeless shelter. Districts that do not currently have such a shelter would be required to build one within 30 months. In terms of the planned Embarcadero navigation center, opponents are expected to wage a court battle and to bring their case to the State Lands Commission.

     Ghost Ship Trial: ‘No Notice, Time or Exits’

    The trial for People v. Harris & Aleman, with regard to the Ghost Ship warehouse fire of December 2016, began on April 30 in Oakland, the city where the illegally converted warehouse was located. Prosecutors say that Derick Almena and Max Harris are criminally responsible for the fire, which killed 36 people—many of them members of the LGBTQ community. Almena rented the building, owned by Chor Ng, and converted it into spaces for housing, the arts and concerts. Prosecutor Casey Bates said that the victims had “no notice, time or exits” from the structure before it went up in flames. Attorneys for the defendants have called for the arrest of Oakland fire officials and building inspectors. According to KRON4, “City codes require commercial buildings to be inspected annually, but the Oakland Fire Department and city officials said they could find no records of building inspectors examining the building.” Families of the victims are also suing Ng for negligence. PG&E has additionally been named in the lawsuits, which claim that the company failed to properly monitor, inspect and repair the building’s electrical equipment.

    90,000 Historic SF Property Photos Now Accessible to the Public

    Through modernization initiatives of the Assessor-Recorder’s Office, over 90,000 photos were turned over to the San Francisco Public Library, it was announced on April 30. Assessor Carmen Chu, City Librarian Michael Lambert and local historians on May 1 at City Hall discussed the importance of these historic photos. City Archivist Susan Goldstein, Woody LaBounty and David Gallagher (Western Neighborhoods Project), Evelyn Rose and Amy O’Hair (Glen Park Neighborhoods History Project) also attended the City Hall event, which was held in the Office of the Assessor-Recorder.

     20 Democrats Now Running for President

    Former Vice President Joe Biden’s announcement on April 25 that he is running for President brings the Democratic field tally to 20 candidates. The major candidates from all of the parties are as follows: Joe Biden (D), Cory Booker (D), Pete Buttigieg (D), Julián Castro (D), John Delaney (D), Tulsi Gabbard (D), Kirsten Gillibrand (D), Mike Gravel (D), Kamala Harris (D), John Hickenlooper (D), Jay Inslee (D), Amy Klobuchar (D), Wayne Messam (D), Seth Moulton (D), Beto O’Rourke (D), Tim Ryan (D), Bernie Sanders (I), Eric Swalwell (D), Donald Trump (R), Elizabeth Warren (D), Bill Weld (R), Marianne Williamson (D) and Andrew Yang (D). O’Rourke was in San Francisco on April 28. He spoke to voters at SF’s Irish Cultural Center, where he addressed income inequality, immigration issues and climate change, among other subjects. As for Biden, his campaign announced that they raised $6.3 million on their first day, an amount that surpassed Biden’s rivals’ first-day hauls.

    Celebration in Works for Harvey Milk’s Birthday

    Harvey Milk (1930–1978) was born on May 22. On Sunday, May 19, a Harvey Milk Birthday Celebration will take place beginning at 1 pm at Harvey Milk Plaza (Castro at Market Streets). Awards will be presented to California State Senator Scott Wiener for his work on the renovation effort for Harvey Milk Plaza and to donor and local property owner Larry Cushman. A digital fly-thru video will show the latest plans and designs for the proposed new Plaza and Castro Muni Station. City officials will attend and music will be provided by the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band. After the initial gathering, those in attendance will march to 575 Castro Street—former location of Milk’s Castro Camera store—to sing “Happy Birthday” in honor and remembrance of Milk.