Heart of the City Archives

Bush administration homeless czar, Philip Mangano (right), Mayor Gavin Newsom, Angela Alioto, and members of the 10-Year Plan Council release "The San Francisco Plan to Abolish Chronic Homelessness."

Notes from the City of pride and presidents
by Hank Donat

Now that gays and lesbians want to march down the marriage aisle and push prams at playgroups, Gay Day gets tamer every year. During the post-parade celebration at Civic Center, I found the Leather Alley whipping demonstrations consigned to a tucked away corner, down a plywood lane in the Wells Fargo Bank parking lot on Grove Street.

Some of my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters reported feeling alienated after seeing their own take on gay sexual identity hidden within a pride event. As a service to them, I have posted some photos of Leather Alley from 2001, when the contingent was located at Larkin and Golden Gate, in full view of the Federal Building. (Choose the link.) Personally, I'm the domestic type. I was looking for the John Kerry booth.

A poorly attended table promoting the issue of senior evictions occupied the spot at Larkin and Golden Gate at this year's Pride celebration.

With the housing situation in the City becoming more vexing each day, it briefly looked as though San Francisco might not have housing bonds until the next election cycle, in 2005.

Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Tom Ammiano were out front with Mayor Gavin Newsom's $185 million proposal while Supervisors Chris Daly and Matt Gonzalez favored setting the necessity at $210 million.

Peskin said the ultimate goal is putting a bond initiative before the voters that they are likely to accept. "We don't sell gas for $2.00 in this country; we sell it for $1.99," Peskin said of the psychological difference between the two figures.

Drum roll please... After substantial politicking, the Board of Supervisors finally set a ceiling of $200 million dollars for new housing bonds this year. That leaves only one question. Where is Peskin getting gas for $1.99?

Newsom and former Supervisor Angela Alioto certainly looked like they were making history. Surrounded by members of the 10-Year Plan Council and the Bush administration's homeless czar, Philip Mangano, Newsom and Alioto released their "San Francisco Plan to Abolish Chronic Homelessness" to the public in a packed City Hall conference room. An attendance of 150 is large for such an event. The ambitious plan represents a continued shift in public policy toward permanent supportive housing and away from the shelter system.

"The San Francisco Plan" is 78 pages long - they were literally hot off the copier - but the naysayers needed only one page, double-sided. Jim Reid ran for mayor on a platform of building little houses for the homeless. His flyer says the City's latest blue ribbon plan is doomed because the national administration will never fund enough supportive programs.

Abolishing homelessness seems like an impossible promise to keep, but that's what we thought when Newsom and Alioto said they were going to work together.

Also at City Hall last week, Daniel Homsey reported that his office collected more than 2000 pounds of clothes in its one-day clothing drive. A ton of gratitude goes out to the Office of Neighborhood Services!

Sandra Derian of Travelocity is one of the thousands of people who have lined up for an autographed copy of former President Bill Clinton's autobiography, "My Life." Sandra's experience is an almost typical brush with fame, made extraordinary by the fact that the subject is a former leader of the free world.

Sandra reports, "I found the book signing fairly well organized. Paola and I ate at the Market Bar first. I recommend it. There was some confusion at Book Passage about checking bags, but there were two different places where bags could be checked so people seemed okay in the end. I was #5 but lined up in no particular order with the group 0-100. Guards did a metal detector wand check on us before we filed in. Mr. Clinton shakes your hand and you have about 2 seconds to say something. I handed him a pin that said, 'No C.A.R.B Diet Plan. No Cheney. No Ashcroft. No Rumsfeld. No Bush.' He needed help reading the small type so Paola read it aloud. Mr. Clinton looked at me and said, "I like that!" He thanked us both for wearing our Kerry buttons. I just grinned a lot and nodded." Thanks, Sandra. Sounds like fun!

A contemporary sign from the most recent former Cliff House fetched $152.50 on Ebay last week. The restaurant as redesigned by C. David Robinson architects is scheduled to reopen in August.

For the woman who pleaded with my voicemail to tell her that I was not responsible for an obvious typo in the headline on the print edition of last week's column: your wish is my command. The Independent may have blundered when it said, "An San Francisco tribute," but fortunately the incorrect article was in the headline and not under it.

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Copyright 2004 Hank Donat
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