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News + PoliticsLGBTQA delay, and maybe some hope, for the Castro Theater

A delay, and maybe some hope, for the Castro Theater

Parties take two weeks to meet, organize; Mandelman facing pressure.

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A Board of Supes committee delayed the landmarking decision for the Castro Theater by two weeks, in what some say is a sign that there might be hope for the various parties to reach an agreement.

Stephen Torres, executive co-chair of the Castro LGBTQ Historic District, told me that the preservation advocates expect a meeting with Sup. Rafael Mandelman, and are looking to play a larger role in the discussions with Another Planet Entertainment, which has the lease on the theater.

Sup. Rafael Mandelman may well to have to take a position that’s guaranteed to make some of his constituents unhappy. Photo by Ebbe Roe Yovino-Smith

“We have been cut out of some of these negotiations, but we are hopeful that there is a role for us and a path forward,” Torres told me.

Torres requested the two-week continuance, which the Land Use and Transportation Committee granted.

Mandelman is less optimistic: “Hope springs eternal,” he told me, “but I am not aware of any new developments/openings.”

David Perry, a spokesperson for APE, said the company has no comment.

There’s more to this story, as there always is.

If there’s no agreement that all sides can accept, then a measure that includes a provision landmarking the existing seating configuration and raked floor will go to the Board of Supes in three weeks. The preservationists and APE will be scrambling for six votes.

Two politicians who were often on opposite sides of major issues, Tom Ammiano and Michela Alito-Pier, jointly wrote an oped about the role of the Castro Theater in the community and the importance of protecting its history.

So this isn’t necessarily going to split on traditional progressive-moderate lines.

And Mandelman is going to be where he doesn’t like to be: On the hot seat, with no easy compromise in sight.

Mandelman has ambitions for the future; if Rep. Nancy Pelosi retires, and state Sen. Scott Wiener runs for her seat, I’m hearing that Assemblymember Matt Haney (who can’t seem to finish any job he’s elected to) will run for Wiener’s seat. That leaves the East Side Assembly seat potentially open.

There are a lot of folks in the LGBTQ community who want to see the Castro seats preserved. There are also some who are on the side of APE.

If there’s no deal, the preservationists are going to push Mandelman to make a tough decision: Is he with the folks who see the Castro as part of the community’s history, or is he with a Berkeley concert promoter who everyone agrees has bungled the community outreach and some say has been a bad actor (but which says it’s the only entity that can make the Castro work as a business).

If APE says the landmarking vote would make it impossible to operate the facility and walks away, is there a way for the Castro Theater Conservancy to come up with the very large amount of money needed to repair and upgrade the facility?

This will all come down on the district supe. It’s not going to be an easy two weeks for Rafael Mandelman.

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Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.

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