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VOLUME 2, NUMBER 15    <>  MONDAY, APRIL 16, 2001

this & that

Home (Depot) is where the heart is. It’s becoming the Flying Dutchman of San Francisco. Last year unhappy citizens drove it out of a proposed resting place in Visitacion Valley. (Was it haunted, I wonder, by the ghosts of generations of Schlage Lock employees rising up and crying out, “No, not here”?) Now Home Depot has proposed to move into the space at Bayshore & Cortland once occupied by Goodman’s Lumber and Whole Earth Access. Joseph Smooke, writing in the New Bernal Journal, notes that “businesses like Home Depot cause two phases of change. First there is blight as smaller businesses fail in the face of competition; then larger businesses take the place of the previous businesses, because a new scale of competition now dominates the economic context.”

The monster home improvement store may have no better luck in this new location. Watching over the area and poised for intervention is the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, already heady with success in the creation of affordable housing/community services at the intersection of Mission and Cesar Chavez.

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The fat lady’s singing. According to an April 6 article in the San Francisco Business Times entitled “Mid-Market turns to skid market,” it’s all over: “If rents have tumbled in the Financial District and plummeted in the heart of South of Market, they are virtually in free fall in the Class B and C buildings in further-flung traditional industrial areas like Mid-Market and far South of Market.” Adds author Amanda Bishop, likely tenants in these areas are now not dot.coms but — I kid you not! — non-profits.

Two properties that have been begging for tenants are 1047 and 1069 Market, located in the depths of what Starboard Commercial Real Estate principal Stella Wong Florez calls “the armpit of San Francisco.” Bill Schwartz, former owner of the Eureka Theater, might compare it to a different body part. According to the Examiner of April 10, Schwartz feels that Mid-Market’s strip clubs are impeding the conversion of the area to “something akin to 42nd Street west,” complete with small theaters and imported Broadway performances. Schwartz, adds Matt Isaacs in the Ex-paper, “hopes the city will force the owners of the strip clubs to sell their businesses or move elsewhere if the Mid-Market corridor becomes a redevelopment project area in September.”

At present, the dignified green façade of 1047 Market nestles cheek-to-jowl with the bright red marquee of the Market Street Cinema next door, in what seems a fitting recapitulation of San Francisco’s past. Better a bustling bawdy neighbor than empty elegance.

Singing the corporation blues. Has anyone connected the dots between this weekend’s FTAA protests in Quebec and public opposition to the San Francisco’s proposed tax settlement? Observers in Canada worry that the American heads of state meeting there are giving away the civic store to large corporations. People closer to home, who have feared a similar fate for their city for several years, must see the tax payout as a sellout, an incontrovertible symbol that the deal has already been done.

Perhaps that’s what the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition, Just Act, and the Coalition to Stop the Free Trade Area of the Americas had in mind when they scheduled a “march against eviction profiteers and global displacement” for Friday, April 20. The motley crew, and other interested parties, will gather at 3:30 at Powell & Market, and walk to a celebration at Portsmouth Square. (415 553-3418 or 415 504-8254.41 gets you more information.)

The line forms here. City Attorney Louise Renne, whose fingers have trailed through a number of tasty pies recently, stands to face a number of worthy opponents this fall. Neil Eisenberg, now busily mustering the municipal utility district troops, has mentioned the possibility of mounting the hustings. More positive is lawyer Stephen Williams, recently visible and vocal in opposition to a 122-foot-tall office building at Powell & O’Farrell. Williams is already talking like a candidate: “Yes, I am running for city attorney. I am tired of fighting the city on every issue and believe we can do much better to have someone on the inside that is not beholden to the special interests. It is more than time for a change.” Renne will undoubtedly run on her record, which her official biography notes includes cultivating “the city attorney’s role in improving the city's business acumen.”

Betsey Culp