Castro Shared Space Reopens on Weekends

Castro Merchants are again sponsoring the popular Shared Space program during the weekends. (They closed during the Dec – Jan Stay at Home order.)  Come out and enjoy the vehicle-free on-street strolling and shopping.  Here’s the details:  

18th Street – Castro

  • 18th Street from Hartford Street to Castro Street; 18th Street from Castro Street to Collingwood Street
  • Saturdays and Sundays, 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. each day
  • Active: Sunday, October 11, 2020, through Sunday, June 27, 2021
  • Sponsor: Castro Merchants

Noe Street – Castro / Duboce Triangle

  • Noe Street from Market Street to Beaver Street
  • Sundays, 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. 
  • Active: Friday, October 9, 2020, through Sunday, June 27, 2021
  • Sponsor: Castro Merchants
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How You Can Protect Your Home

Here are the most commonly used ways to prevent garage/home break-ins.

  • Keep entry lights on at night. Lighted doorways deter break-ins especially if video cameras are visible. 
  • Keep one or more interior lights on at night. 
  • Install motion flood lights at entryways. Can scare off would-be burglar.
  • Install metal gates at street entryways, especially the front door. Front doors are particularly vulnerable to forced entry as are alleyway doors.   An alternative is special smash-proof door glass. See below Safety Glass.
  • Put video cams at entryways and garage doors. Consider at least a video component as part of a front door bell system: Ring Nest Outdoor, Ubiquity, and Network Video by Dahlua Technologies are a few that some neighbors are using. 
  • Eliminate garage door remotes. If you leave a remote in a car hide it (under the seat for example) or take it with you.  This is especially important if you have car registration or other info with your home address  in the car.
  • Protect your garage door with reinforced or break-proof panels and a dead bolt device for overnight or when away for extended period. Automatic Garage Doors (and other vendors) have smash proof garage doors. Dead bolts for garage doors are either manual or electrical with a remote. The manual deadbolts are useful for when you are away for extended periods; the more expensive electrical/remotes allow for daily use.  Another approach is to remove the emergency pull cord that releases the garage door track which allows criminals to raise the door.  
  • Install a hooded mail slot and/or break-proof protective glass for your front door panels.  Burglars can reach in via the mail slot and unlock the deadbolt with extension devices.  They also knock out glass panels.  (A Yelp search can help you find vendors to install these.) 
  • Install a burglar alarm which alerts a private security company who will immediately come to the address or call 911. Commonly used companies include ADT, Bay Alarm, Warman and SimpliFi.
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D8 Crime and Prevention – A Talk with SFPD Chief Bill Scott

D8 residents are seeing and hearing about more crime in our district–from car or garage break-ins, vandalism and store robberies, home burglaries, to muggings on the street. On Friday, January 22, Supervisor Rafael Mandelman hosted a Zoom with Chief Bill Scott to discuss crime in D8 on a Zoom meeting (starting at the 20 minute mark.)

D8 residents are concerned about public safety: what do the data say? How do we acknowledge, address, and bring down crime? The Chief confirmed that burglaries are up significantly in San Francisco. In part, he and his leadership believe the increase in home burglaries is correlated with the decreased car break-ins resulting from the drop in tourism. Early release of offenders to reduce COVID risk in jails is another factor.

The Chief outlined action that SFPD action is taking: investigating serial burglars, working with the DA to prosecute those arrested, using more plainclothes details, more visible car patrols. He also recommended that residents maintain their external video cameras. Video and other physical evidence is critical to obtaining convictions. To prevent crime, do not leave valuables in your car, lock doors & windows, consider security system (For more details – see list of recommended actions here.)

DHIC recommends taking steps to protect you, your family, and your property from home burglaries and other crimes. And join a block safety group to get to know your neighbors and to share regular updates via email. Email info@doloresheights.org with your street name and block # (or your address.) We’ll connect you with the block safety alias for your street.

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Here’s to a Better 2021

What a year!  Never imaginable (still unbelievable) … yet we’ve done more than survive.  We’ve responded to this pandemic in positive and healthy ways.  We reached out to our neighbors in new ways…helping with errands, Zoom meetings, growing block safety groups, and even with the “Flatten the Curve” chalk drawing on the Liberty Street stairs.  We continue to honor the DH Special Use District in the planning code (and helped obtain more protections against unnecessary demolitions.) We hosted our first-ever Zoom community gathering and online board election.  We’ve experimented, we’ve been creative, we’ve shown up, and we’ve demonstrated resilience — along with compassion and care for our neighbors and community.  The Stairs stewards are still cleaning and cultivating the plantings on many of the Dolores Heights stairways.  The block safety groups alert neighbors to safety issues.  Planning & Land Use educates neighbors, reviews proposed projects, and speaks out on land policy issues that affect our neighborhood.  

With all that’s occurred these past 12 months, being thankful for family, friends, and community takes on a deeper significance.  The board of DHIC thanks you.  To support our work, please join or renew your membership in DHIC.  We look forward to bringing neighbors together in 2021 – of course, in compliance with current/future health orders.  Questions or suggestions?  Email us at info@doloresheights.org

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Should There Be a Public Safety Cameras in the Castro Benefit District?

Due to increased crime and vandalism, the Castro/UpperMarket Community Benefit District is considering installing a public safety camera program, on private property, at the major intersections in the Castro and Upper Market.

The camera program would have strict privacy controls and only be used for evidentiary purposes. The cameras would only watch the sidewalk and street/intersections.

The Castro CBD is looking for the input from neighbors who live, work or shop in the Castro. 

Please consider taking their short and anonymous survey.

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Vandalism & Security Measures in The Castro

Battered by repeated burglaries and vandalism, Castro merchants enlist private security force

By Alex Barreira – Staff Reporter, San Francisco Business Times

Feb 1, 2021 Updated Feb 1, 2021, 1:33pm PST

After her store on Castro Street was burglarized for a few hundred dollars and suffered thousands more in damage last month, Terry Bennett thought she could sleep easier knowing the smashed windows were boarded up with plywood. Instead, trouble came through the door.

Three days later Bennett woke early to a phone call. Cliff’s Variety had been broken into again, this time patiently, with a blowtorch used to pop out the glass inset of the front door. A nearby merchant and police had chased down the suspect and Bennett said she recognized him immediately – she said he broke in to steal nearly the exact same merchandise in 2017.

She’s got plenty of company. While the pandemic made last year miserable for many, businesses along the Castro commercial corridor say they are bearing the added financial and emotional toll of a rising tide of burglaries and vandalism on a near constant basis. Reported burglaries increased 76% year-over-year between in the police district that includes the Castro …

The Castro neighborhood is taking matters into their own hands in response to the widespread property crimes. The Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District (CBD) is working on a program to add security cameras to high traffic areas, although some business owners have expressed concerns about privacy.

Andrea Aiello [CBD Executive Director] said. “There’s just so many broken windows in first-floor businesses.” Some of them belong to Cody Laxo. At Willkommen beer garden on 2198 Market St. he has had to replace five front windows, each at about $1,000 apiece, since last March, including twice last month. The string lights he put up to “make the neighborhood feel lively in a really dark time” were also stolen. “It’s like, ‘When are the punches going to stop?'” said Laxo. “It’s a hard trend to watch because you want to be compassionate, but you really have to protect yourself.”…

So Laxo and others have beefed up the security at their businesses with security cameras, 24-hour lighting, gates on parklets, heavy duty locks and upgraded alarm systems. … At Cliff’s Variety, Bennett felt she had no choice but to install a metal gate over her front door after someone took a skateboard to smash in the glass. She estimates she has spent between $25,000 to $30,000 out of pocket because of property crimes during the pandemic… Meanwhile, she and other merchants worry that turning their businesses into “fortresses,” as one put it, would change not only their advertising appeal but the character of the neighborhood.  “I don’t want that image for our community after dark,” Bennett said.

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Fall Gathering Time Means Membership Renewal Time!

Mark your calendars for our Fall Gathering

Online – via Zoom

Monday, October 26 from 7-8 pm

Meet your neighbors and DHIC Board members

Hear from our Supervisor Rafael Mandelman

Please REGISTER IN ADVANCE to attend!

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Be a part of DHIC by joining (or renewing) your membership. 

We take action on key issues that are shaping the future of our City. As a Dolores Heights neighbor and as a San Franciscan, help us have an impact on that future.  Start by joining (or renewing) your membership in DHIC

We’re all in this together and welcome your help!

Join at the dues level most affordable for you! 
Basic $25
Donor $50
Supporting $100

For more information or to receive our monthly e-newsletter, please email info@doloresheights.org

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We Want YOU on the DHIC Board!

And our board is up for re-election. We serve two-year terms. David Pennebaker is chairing our Nominations Committee and wants to hear from any member who is interested in serving on the board. He’s also seeking volunteers to help with the election which will be conducted online this year. More details from David by Labor Day.

To get involved, please email us at info@doloresheights.org.

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Will There Be a DHIC Fall Party? Stay Tuned!

We’ve missed seeing you!! When the March 2020 Shelter in Place orders banned group gatherings, DHIC cancelled our Spring Fling. We fully expected to see you at our street party in early October. However, the June – July surge in SF COVID-19 cases is forcing us to pivot yet again. Stay tuned for a special bulletin later in August about our fall party and our annual membership drive.

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State Housing Legislation Action: Register your Position Now!

As reported in prior DHIC articles, San Francisco and California face a significant affordable housing shortage — housing for our teachers, municipal support workers, first responders, service workers, etc. However, a group of legislators are sponsoring bills (SB 902, SB 1085, SB 1120, and AB 3107) that give large incentives such as building height and density bonuses to construct market rate and luxury residences. These bills have lower or no requirements for affordable housing units or subsidies. Moreover, these bills limit the rights of residents to contest the negative impacts those excessive building bonuses will have on San Francisco including in our Dolores Heights neighborhood. These bills are now in the second house — to be voted on by August 13th. If you haven’t already acted, take five minutes now to submit your position via the official Cal Legislature Position Letter Portal. Numbers count! “How-to” and detailed directions are below.

The key bills that we’ve been highlighting for the past two months are listed below. Click here to read more details about each of these bills.

  • SB 902: enables the Board of Supervisors to upzone any parcel — with no citizen right of appeal.
  • SB 1085: the SF Board of Supervisors unanimously opposed this bill as it waters down the affordable housing requirements in the State Density Bonus (SDB) law. It also prohibits the impact fees that SF collects on market-rate units under the SDB – thereby reducing funding to the Mayor’s Affordable Housing Fund.
  • SB 1120: would allow lot splitting in single family RH-1 areas, and then adding 2 duplexes on each of the newly created lots (the equivalent of 4 units where one now exists), thereby destroying mid-block open space and the character of our neighborhoods.
  • SB 3107: would Manhattanize San Francisco by allowing the residential development of commercial areas to go as high as the tallest building within a half-mile radius, thus enabling scattershot high-rise buildings much taller than area zoning allows.

And we support SB 1299.  During this time of COVID-19 with its record retail business closings and high unemployment, this bill uses our valuable state resources to solve two problems. It supports converting closed big box retail and commercial shopping centers into workforce housing developments.  You can register your support for this bill using the same Portal. 

Take Action Today!

If you haven’t already, please take 5 minutes to register your position on all of these bills at one location: the Cal Legislature Position Letter Portal.

Create Account at  Cal Legislature Portal:

  • Answer “No” to the two questions: Are you a registered lobbyist? Do you represent an organization, registered or otherwise? 
  • Fill out the user details including your name, address, email and security question, then click “Register”.
  • You will immediately receive an email with a temp password and link to create your own password. 

Log in to the Portal and submit Your Stance

  • Enter the bill’s letter & number (e.g., SB 902) in the fields on the left (keep Session Type as Regular)
    • The “bad bills” are SB 902, SB 1085, SB 1120, AB 3107
    • The “good bill” is SB 1299
  • Click “Search” and table will populate with a brief description of the bill.
  • To the right, you’ll see two radio buttons (Oppose and Support), click on the appropriate button to register your stance.
  • Enter a short comment: e.g. “I oppose this bill” or “Oppose” (or copy/paste language from this article) into the comment field.
  • Click “Submit”
  • Click on the link “Return to Note Submission Page” in the upper right-hand corner. You are returned to the landing page.
  • Enter the next bill’s House (AB or SB) &  bill number and hit “Search” again.

These positions are tallied daily. It’s important that you register your position on bills. The legislators keep track of the tallies, and the comments are less important.

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