exposing the brutal gentrifcation squad known as lower polk neighbors

Friday, December 28, 2007

the LPN holiday party 2007

Ah, Hank's Franks = a genuine community cultural asset-- not. So excited it's finally open.

Since there was no agenda items, I took to eavesdropping conversations. Actually, I'm not going to call it eavesdropping when some intoxicated asshole is screaming obnoxiously in your ear in a public place. There were a few typical;y ironic, moderately interesting images and moments (perhaps more enjoyable if you hate LPN already, which I know you do).

Drunken shouted conversation between an employee from Assemblyman Mark Leno's staff and a LPN party-goer, where the former said, "Yes I live in the neighborhood... We continue pushing forward... We will have marriage equality in California."

Framed young Frank Sinatra mug shot poster, just like the kind you'd get from Fisherman's Wharf, hung on the wall opposite the main entrance. (Is this the kinds of criminals LPN likes? Gangsta! Gangsta!)

Reverend Dr. Wilfried Glabach of the nearly finished First Congregational Church on the 1300 block of Van Ness pouring bottled [POPULAR BEER CORPORATION BRAND NAME SUPPRESSED] into a plastic trapezoidal shot cup, both possibly from [BIG BOX MEMBERSHIP-BASED DISCOUNT WAREHOUSE CHAIN STORE NAME SUPPRESSED] and evidently staples of the party-hosting establishment during its business hours.

According to David Chiu, Larkin Street Youth Services "clients" flier for LPN every two weeks.

Supervisor Sandoval standing close to the door near the end of his standoffish semi-official political presence routine declaring the cliche one generally uses for such perfunctory occasions, "There's more power here than all of City Hall!"

Monday, December 10, 2007

Second Half of Police Captain Al Croce Casciato's Rant

So now we bring all you fine blog-reading activists our second look at the Captain Al Croce Casciato rant at the Sudachi LPN meeting in September; when Captain Al dwelled rather obsessively upon the seemingly endless erotic possibilities of public surveillance for authoritarian bodies.

But first a question. What do cops read? Jane Jacobs. One of the greatest difficulties around organizing against the gentrification on Polk Street has been the lack of a clear unified target. When gentrification is caused by drastic rezoning measures the clear target then becomes City Hall, as with Manhattan in the 1990's under Mayor Giuliani. At previous LPN meetings it has been revealed that because Polk Street is fractured by many different zoning ordinances its not possible to round it up into one anti-poor zone, much to the endlessly stated frustration of Case + Abst Architects. LPN is comprised of a complex alliance of various gentrifying property and business interests with the help of the police and other city agencies. It's tough to conceptualize this species as a protest target-- a diverse culture of multiple significant targets. During his surveillance screed Al cited Jane Jacobs' The Death and Life of Great American Cities, favoring individuals over city planning, as a strategy to surveil their business investments-- oops, I mean neighborhoods. This trend reveals another tactical quality of the privatization model: decentralization, here into multiple influential business interests on Polk Street-- this paradoxically is contrary to how capitalism tends to function. The extent to which City Hall influences such groups is difficult to ascertain, since LPN is not officially chartered by San Francisco, although clearly embodies the anti-poor spirit of Mayor Gavin Newsom. So, LPN itself has no single fixed target, but is a bunch of different nauseating components. Despite this, LPN's decentralization holds one notable advantage to anti-gentrification activists because it allows the opportunity to publicly reveal the threat against our lives as it truly is-- greater than Case + Abst, the Mayor or even City Hall-- the threat is capitalism.

Casciato marries this brand of free-for-all capitalism running amuck on Polk Street with military surveillance, and meeting attendees are mesmerized. Using Jacobs' do-it-yourself suggestions to craft pragmatic solutions for entrepreneurial fascism, the Captain praised sidewalk cafes. Jane Jacobs' book modeled the ideal urban space on Greenwich Village, er... I guess sidewalk cafes were prevalent there...? This is an example of crime-deterring genius, because sidewalk cafes create "eyes on the street," according to Captain Al. "Bad people don't like having eyes recording them," Al explained simply. I didn't realize that privacy was pathological. But private property has to be in the clear, since we're talking to a room full of property owners. In other words, it's okay to invade someone else's privacy to protect your own. Oh yeah that's right, that's what the cops are for! Apparently, Jacobs was also a brilliant war tactician, since Al mentioned that she advised against putting too many poor people in the same area. Captain Al diverges from this however, cautioning those "eyes on the street," to be vigilant for "that strange person [who] might be a parolee." Why does this conjure morning visions of sketched yuppies 911-ing a poor person while sipping wheat grass on the street?

Dryly, almost as if pretending to be cheerful, Captain Al offers the option for proprietors to pick up those small web cams with suction cups in lieu of expanding the police department's closed circuit grid. He loves them. "They're just about $1000," Al comforted LPN. "You can control the content of the private camera," Al added, "You can control what you want to give to the D.A.'s office."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Adventures in Liberal Fascism Pt. 8

Frequently law enforcement officials field questions on the invention of more severe penalties for "quality of life" crimes. Gavin Newsom's public policy chief Julian Potter claimed during her June LPN meeting presentation on "problem-solving justice" that "the sheriff in this town has never put a person in jail for being homeless." At the November LPN meeting, Superior Court Commissioner Rob Albers claimed that "infractions are difficult to get outcomes on." Assistant District Attorney Sharon Woo at the September LPN meeting claimed that "it's easier to prosecute when members of the bench come to meetings" like LPN's. At a meeting where Police Captain of Northern Station Kevin Dillon received a certificate of special recognition from Gavin Newsom, he claimed that "sleeping on the sidewalk" is a "big problem" because the criminal justice system fails to enforce severe enough penalties. At LPN meetings, Captain Dillon frequently describes this revolving door as being a huge snafu (alongside stories that the police force is terribly understaffed)-- adding to his woes he claims that you "can't arrest people for quality of life crimes."

Only 15% of infractions get dismissed.

Jennifer Friedenbach, Executive Director of the Coalition on Homelessness, describes situations where people have had possession of aluminum cans cited as "open containers."

Adventures in Liberal Fascism Pt. 7

A room full of white San Francisco professionals scowling at the black people on a street of Redhook NYC in a documentary establishing shot projected on the wall by Gavin Newsom's public policy chief Julian Potter during a presentation on "problem-solving justice" at an LPN meeting in June 2006.

To get this documentary image, personnel from the Mayor's office had to swap laptop powerpoint presentation projectors with a development agency LPN had invited to detail a proposed 130 foot tall, 107-condo (with garage and retail-- Trader Joe's was negotiating!) residential tower at 1285 Sutter, the former home of Galaxy Theatre. Marilyn Ponte of Bayrock Residential drew meeting attendees' attention to a "curved element" along the skyscrapers vertical line as seen from Hemlock Alley which the San Francisco Planning Commission had wanted.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Adventures in Liberal Fascism Pt. 6

At the June LPN meeting, during a presentation on "restorative justice" by the Mayor's public policy chief Julian Potter, those who gathered in the bar and grill dining room of the Cathedral Hill Hotel were asked what they felt the "strengths of Lower Polk" were.

Architect and LPN Co-Founder Ron Case's answer was:

A) Location
B) Diversity
C) Business
D) Architecture

The answer is B.

At the November O'Reilly's Holy Grail LPN meeting, Ron complained that the residential buildings of the Tenderloin and Polk Area are 90% rent control. Ron Case was integral to LPN's expulsion of gay hustler bar Rendezvous from Polk Street, collaborating with Dan Diaz (LPV), John Molloy (Polk Merchants Association) and Myles O'Reilly (O'Reilly's) against what they felt were "bad neighbors" and "bad for the neighborhood." Ron Case also profits from his architecture firm's design of the church which was built over the space that the bar occupied.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Adventures in Liberal Fascism Pt. 5

Now this blog will attempt to focus on the Captain Al Croce Casciato rant. Many of the most passionate members of LPN are only leading the specter of displacement by the nose right up to their own doorsteps. An interesting example of this was during the first happy hour LPN meeting where facilitator David Chiu's agenda got hopelessly railroaded by a very stream-of-consciousness Captain Al monologue. Bearing in mind that such a mode of expression is deeply respected around here (anyone who's read previous entries will know this to be true), figuring out how to portray Al's trip from ruminating about finding bargains on home video surveillance systems to al fresco dining to the tale of a "crazy" not-crazy homeless "not-homeless" woman is seriously a daunting task for even the most shrewd of criminal masterminds to tackle. Despite finding the agenda utterly displaced, David was able to recover some little modest corner for LPN to exist in the shadow of the police state.

We'll begin with probably the most poignant of Captain Al's classist and misogynist dream imagery, the legend of the "crazy" not-crazy, homeless "not-homeless" woman. We FADE IN on a bench in San Francisco. A sleeping figure has covered themselves with newspaper. Let's say the Chronicle. Or maybe the SF Weekly is easier to come by, although more difficult to spread out into a blanket. It's certainly way more useful as bedding than journalism. "This woman had this trash. Her belongings. She smelled," Captain Al soliloquized. "We sent her to the hospital. 5150. Amos Brown yelled at us and said if this was the Marina she wouldn't be here. We did Homeward Bound and Saturday she was back. The hospital let her go because she's not a threat to herself. She's not. [sic]" According to Captain Al, this problem continued right up until the reverend wanted to get a merchant to do a citizen arrest, when someone suggested about trying to get her in the church, "trying to get her into services." Captain Al free-associates further: "She was a boomerang. She's not homeless. She's mentally-impaired. Something tells her to collect trash and cover herself with it at night." Hmmm. Really, Captain? Could it be the cold?

"She's like a hand grenade," the Captain continued. Hey, that's not very nice, Al. Just because you might not like the way a person smells, there's no reason to suggest that they're going to spontaneously combust. Really now. "There was a murder when I became Captain across the street. One stabbed the other snapped. You have to tell them, 'John take your meds. John take a bath.'" Hmmm. Does that strike anyone as a little paternalistic? The world is truly bleak where the kindest words you'll hear in a room full of people are from a police officer.

This is just one small part of the Captain Al Casciato rant.

Adventures in Liberal Fascism Pt. 4

"Do you do something about illegal pigeon feeding?"
Carolyn Abst speaking to Robert Arevalo of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, October 6th 2007, O'Reilly's Holy Grail.

Adventures in Liberal Fascism Pt. 3


There was a bit of confusion at a recent LPN meeting. In praising the city's "community justice center" idea, Superior Court Commissioner Ron Albers buoyed his claim as to the experiment's merit by mentioning to meeting attendees at O'Reilly's Holy Grail that a "homeless coalition" supports it and "is very eager" about it.

What follows is vital information on what you can do to protect yourself against identity theft. Know the difference between: 1) The Coalition on Homelessness and 2) The San Francisco Homeless Services Coalition. Don't you think it's kind of funny that there would be two groups within several blocks of each other in the Tenderloin with such similar names? I'm sure that Commissioner Albers didn't mean to confuse anyone. Why would a group that has over the years always voiced opposition to the onslaught of anti-poor programs City Hall has shat out suddenly become giddy about an experiment that would only make the connections between the police state and non-profits more devastatingly explicit?-- consider the recent spectacle of outreach workers leading the police to hidden homeless encampments.

At the LPN meeting in June of this year, Julian Potter from the Mayor's Office griped that the Coalition on Homelessness opposed the "community justice center." LPN member Dan Diaz asked her about "recalcitrant types," and she stressed that through using this new judicial system "the average person does finally break through." Albers concurred this, in describing a similar system employed at the Drug Court where he's served, "There used to be the thing that people said about leading a horse to water, and you can't make them drink... You can coerce them in a certain way to get that horse to drink that water." Now come on. Does the Coalition on Homelessness really support coercing homeless people to do anything they don't want to?

A recent article in the Guardian attacked the San Francisco Homeless Services Coalition as being a recent L.A. transplant org that's little more than a canvassing racket with a very well-compensated admin. Nobody's quite sure which "homeless coalition" Albers was referring to. It appears this was very intentional.

Jenny Friedenbach, the executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness has this to say: "We oppose a community court in the Tenderloin if it is going to include any infractions related to a person's status being homeless such as: sitting on the sidewalk, camping, open containers, urination and misdemeanors, 647's which include camping laws."

Adventures in Liberal Fascism Pt. 2

"I sleep well at night when I send people to state prison because you have multiple opportunities to turn yourself around in San Francisco." This is a direct quote from San Francisco Assistant District Attorney Sharon Woo at the first happy hour LPN meeting in September.

Adventures in Liberal Fascism Pt. 1

In case you cared, no the blog has not been taking a break on its updates. The horror of LPN is so overwhelming to comprehend, cope with and then describe concisely that it's taken this entire time to finally come up with a more effective editorial mechanism. What follows will be a series of snapshots from different things that have happened in the last 5 months of meetings. The idea is to keep it concise, however it is difficult to predict at the outset whether or not additional explanatory detail will be required.

On the title, admittedly it is clumsy. It could be interpreted as a conservative critique of liberals, perhaps of some imaginary situation where those with more privilege are getting saddled with the burden of sharing that privilege with those who have significantly less. To someone perhaps more familiar with the mission of this blog, it might suggest a frightful situation where liberals greatly compromise their progressive ideals. It's perhaps startling to intend to use the adjective "Liberal" to describe LPN to some, even granted the ways that Gay Shame has sought to repeatedly expose liberal hypocrisy in the past. What's happened is that LPN has shown nominal yet noticeable growth in their ability to disguise their agenda as vaguely pseudo-progressive. At this moment in San Francisco, "vaguely pseudo-progressive" is what passes as "Liberal."

Mostly though, a snappy-enough title was needed for this series of moments. Hopefully, when the series concludes we'll be all caught up, and we can continue with regular monthly updates. Okay, so let's get started.

One of the most telling moments from a recent LPN meeting was when David Chiu apologized to meeting attendees about the noise caused by the espresso machine in Cafe Yabon right in front of its owner who, after allowing his entire cafe to be completely taken over by the meeting, sat before attendees the first ever complimentary LPN meeting refreshment in 5 years of existence: homemade hummus with fresh baked bread.

In situations like this, certain things, such as the existence of a street culture created by people with little-to-no privilege in urban spaces, are simply impossible to complain about. But despite San Francisco's supposed PC heritage LPN finds a way. Meanwhile, the cafe's usual customers watch the packed-to-the-door meeting from the street as Carolyn Abst asks the person from the city attorney's office is there something that they can do to get the needle exchange that's in Hemlock Alley to move out of the neighborhood-- she's been trying for the past 8 years. Later, Captain Dillon from Northern Station notes that since sleeping on the sidewalk isn't criminalized harshly enough it's become harder to push the poor people out of sight.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Carl Faby makes us wet!

Madam Fabi, at the June meeting, began by giving us a brief bio and having worked for the last twelve years at the Next Door homeless shelter (which, incidentally is adjacent to the lovely Case+Abst architecture firm) you would think that he would be an advocate for the homeless, but we would ask that you step back from the glue bottle and give us a moment of your time. Fabi, explained to the small group of [rabid] attendees that he started to attend Lower Polk Neighbor meetings over two years ago when he was concerned that the groups influence would lead to some fucked up ramifications for the shelter. Sounds good. She then proceeded to explain that after a wild rollercoaster ride with Carolynn Abst and her lapdogs, he was able to come to an understanding with the group and is now happy to be working along side them to improve the neighborhood. This would be stomach turn number one for this month’s meeting. Fabi, a resident of the neighborhood, went on to complain to the group about the inability of the pigs [“cops”] to stop the people using and selling drugs on his street and even more heated over the inaction of “certain adult bookstores that will go unnamed” to stop the “boys hustling” on the sidewalks in front of the stores. He’s in luck! The persecution and eventual eradication of street cultures is exactly what the LPN specialize in— however half-wittedly, Fabi fails to recognize that were the LPN ever successful in their delusions of conquest, he and his shelter would be next in the noose hanging from a freshly planted palm tree.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Polk Corridors Business Association Meeeting March 13, 2007 @ Space Gallery

My name is Aaron. I work/live on the 1500 block of Polk Street/1400 block of Larkin.

I attended the Polk Corridor Business Association's meeting at Space Gallery on March 13, 2007. I attended this meeting because it didn't include "residents" (see flier in attached file), and I was curious as to why. This is an overall account of what I witnessed.

On entering the door I was asked to sign in. They then informed me that "Mayor Peskin" would be speaking, I asked "Mayor?" they repeated "Mayor Peskin" saying that though he was not yet mayor but they liked to refer to him as such.

I proceeded up the stairs found a seat amongst 20+ people. A man whom I believe is named "John Malloy", oversaw the meeting.

Topics covered ranged from the fear of the homeless, drugs, prostitution, minimum wage, the displacement of "john Barleycorn", lighting the sidewalks, "security cameras", amount of police officers, and car break-ins.

On the homeless Peskin spoke of Homeward Bound, and how he thinks it has worked. Another man was concerned about the legality of the "Street Sheet" vendors, and there was general concern about 'panhandling'. There was laughter at the mention of people with drug habits, and sited Medical Marijuana as contributing to the crime problem. Capt. Dillon sited a few examples of crime, none occurring in the area being addressed.

On the subject of prostitution Captain Dillon said he would like to "lock them all up", he seemed very convinced that 'locking up' people was the solution, he added the "liberal judges" are preventing this. A man who represented O'Reilly's Holy Grail/Mayes Oyster House was concerned about his ability to do business in a town where he has to pay out minimum wage to his workers.

A man representing John Barleycorn was concerned about his business being moved due to inabilty to renew lease, Supervisor Peskin said he would work on this.

Supervisor Peskin talked about potentially lighting the sidewalks at
night, and that he voted for security cameras.

Captain Dillon commented on the suggestion for more officers by basically saying no amount of police can prevent crime, he also added that the SFPD was hiring.

Those in attendance were concerned about the amount of car break-ins. Captain Dillon addressed this by saying that the break-ins were due to people leaving valuables in plain sight, adding that a fellow law man left his lap top computer on the front seat of his car.

I would like to add that this group is funded by the government and has recently obtained non-profit status (501 c 3), the city is focusing clean-up crews in this area to attract customers to these businesses how can this be. You the resident taxpayers are paying for this.

I am under the impression that this group is interested in shaping this area in their ignorant/fearful/greedy vision using money and politics, and with disregard for the residents. I for one would like to see the people of this neighborhood be allowed to take part in their community without exclusion. I welcome any comments, corrections, additions, etc.