March 10, 2010
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center Facing Foreclosure
"Eight years after opening with great fanfare, San Francisco's city-subsidized, $12.3 million Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center is on the verge of foreclosure - and is asking the cash-strapped city for a $1 million line of credit to help bail it out."
First Published: March 10, 2010 5:30 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
Very sad, but hardly surprising
Posted by: Mystery Realtor at March 10, 2010 7:40 AM
Don't the gays always brag about how much disposable income they have as a segment? Tell them to bail out their own building.
Posted by: scurvy at March 10, 2010 8:01 AM
No scurvy, we don't 'brag' about disposable income. That is an inaccurate representation used by those who seek to minimize the impact of homophobic actions and policies on the LGBT community. As if to say 'they are well off' so who cares if they don't get equal rights. If you seek to oppose the public funding of the Center please avoid using inaccurate myths as the basis of your argument.
Posted by: riffsf at March 10, 2010 8:22 AM
thanks riffsf. This history of the Center is unfortunate. Although it's a nice (not great) facility, it is unfortunately an issue of edifice complex that is now unraveling. It was never really clear how it was meant to serve the community, and has floundered as a result. Early proponents some wildly extravagent ideas of rental income for offices and events. I remember that during planning non-profits that I was associated with very bluntly told organizers that they would have no desire to move into the center at the high rates proposed. Of course, that's exactly what came to pass.
"Saving" the Victorian on the corner only made things worse by vastly inflating the construction costs AND cutting down on the useful space in the Center. The Center was forced into that by advocates who insisted that the building was a treasure, and that they would help raise the additional funds to preserve it. Of course they didn't, and that is part of the reason the Center has never been able to pay off their construction loan.
As I said, sad.
Posted by: curmudgeon at March 10, 2010 9:36 AM
Posted by: gh at March 10, 2010 9:49 AM
Hmm ... seems odd that we read about Exploratorium getting $90 million in gifts one day to move to the waterfront and The LGBT Center hurting for $1 million to pay the mortgage and other bills. It is a bit of a hard to reach location (I think the F Market is the only transit option within a block or so walking distance). It'd be nice to see some of the various politicians step away from their own campaign fundraising in order to encourage their group of fans to send The LGBT Center $50 or whatever ... or maybe Equality California or one of the other handful of LGBT organizations could lend a hand via a loan if they're not in such a dire situation this go around - they could probably lend to The LGBT Center at a much better rate than the 0.01% the bank money market is paying them right now. I'm not crazy about public funds going in that direction.
Posted by: jamie at March 10, 2010 9:50 AM
before we bail out them out of their multi-million dollar hole $50 at a time, I'd like to know why they are in that hole in the first place.
How much money did they pull out of the building and what did they do with it?
Posted by: anon$random at March 10, 2010 10:01 AM
The Exploratorium is a runaway success. Spend just a few minutes there and you can see visitors coming alive with fun learning experiences. There are good reasons why the Exploratorium gets cash flow, volunteers, and large donations. The LGBT Center, in contrast, was intended to serve more specific needs of more troubled, less well socially integrated group, and it isn't clear it ever performed that job very well. Even worse, there is no cash stream or clear way to generate one.
Since when are estranged kids with nonconforming gender or sexuality or both typically rich or well supported? The rich gays who spend big money to live in that vicinity are a totally different demographic who never had much if any real connection to the center. Thinking of a group as nothing but a big blurry mess tends to prevent any meaningful conversation.
Edifice complex is exactly right. As far as the taking money out of the building accusation goes, that sounds like typical reactionary behavior. Is there any evidence of that? They never even paid off the construction loan. If you are curious about their spending, then why not ask them? Oh, right--too lazy, not actually interested, and people will think you're one of those people. Letting go is pretty much the obvious choice, unless someone can create a cash flow somehow. That does raise some issues about why the jazz scene at Yoshi's should be subsidized while attempts to help LGBT citizens, especially kids, should not.
Posted by: Mole Man at March 10, 2010 10:23 AM
The building's hideous from the outside and no better from the inside. The last time I was there, the lobby was cold enough to freeze ice cubes. And financially it has always just been a pile of wishful thinking. I say, let it go under. Mistakes like this shouldn't be rewarded, or saved.
Posted by: chguy at March 10, 2010 11:53 AM
Sadly I'm going to agree that many factors contributed to the failure of this project and it doesn't make sense to throw more money at it (from any source - be it public or private). There are many very worthy organizations in the city serving the LGBT population that are in desperate need of funds. Helping them continue their work is more important than saving this building. A place for drop-in services for the community would be wonderful and perhaps something smaller and in a more appropriate location (hmmm how about the transit accessible Castro area??) would be a better investment.
Posted by: riffsf at March 10, 2010 12:06 PM
I forecast a Walgreen's in the near future.
Posted by: d.o. at March 10, 2010 12:33 PM
Maybe the Pottery Barn can be the next community center location ... I read somewhere that they're ready to fold up in the Castro (or at least looking to sublease).
I agree ... if there's no credible plan for the Center to be self-sustaining through services or fundraising, it may be time to let it go ... and I send them a $100 donation every December (and this year, I'm going to their Soiree fundraiser up the street at Terra in Rinco Hill on April 10th)
Posted by: jamie at March 10, 2010 12:58 PM
Hi scurvy, it looks like the comment bile of SFGate has overflowed into the Socketsite forums. You trendsetter, you!
Posted by: d.o. at March 10, 2010 1:04 PM
Hrmm. I guess I spend too much time in the advertising industry. The gay content providers are always taking up their spend happy, rich demographic. However, it looks like some UCLA professors disagree:
OK, whatever bail them out. Seems to be the trendy things these days.
Posted by: scurvy at March 10, 2010 1:51 PM
"Since when are estranged kids with nonconforming gender or sexuality or both typically rich or well supported?"
Since when are fat kids, short kids or ugly kids supported?
Want equality? Shut this place down and turn it into a Walgreens and put the money spent to keep this albatros afloat to help all people, not just a small segment of the population.
Posted by: Jimmy C at March 10, 2010 2:47 PM
"Since when are fat kids, short kids or ugly kids supported?"
Ugly kids, short kids and fat kids arent kicked out of their houses at 15 because they're fat, short, and ugly.
Posted by: mac at March 10, 2010 3:29 PM
What an ugly thread.
Posted by: annony at March 10, 2010 3:34 PM
Well here at SS ugly threads find plenty of support. The short and fat threads need to get their support elsewhere though.
Posted by: Rillion at March 10, 2010 4:03 PM
scurvy: thanks for posting that research, because it is further proof that gay people are just like everybody else. "The gay and lesbian population is assumed to account for 6.8% of aggregate disposable personal income in the population 18 years old and over, a proportion consistent with the percentage of gay men and lesbians in the adult population as a whole."
Your posts on SFGate are nasty and bitter. I suggest you go meditate or something and look at improving yourself before making judgments about others.
Posted by: d.o. at March 10, 2010 4:48 PM
The comments on this site have turned nasty and bitter since the downturn in the market. This thread is a perfect example. Time to move on.
Posted by: alpenhorn at March 10, 2010 5:47 PM
Its unfortunate this facility is about to go, since I think its a good cause. But I am tired of bailouts and am never a proponent of government funds to support these types of projects. Its time for them to cut their losses and set-up shop in a more affordable area.
Posted by: SFRE at March 10, 2010 7:19 PM
I'm all about preserving important houses that need to be preserved. The "house" part of the center isn't historically significant thus should not have to be preserved. I say go raid those who put up the fuss about that house and use that money to pay off the construction loan. If they are so into preserving this house, surely they should put their money where their mouth is. That way next time they only their mouth, they must be oblige to open their wallets.
The president of the LGBT Center needs to be fired. Running such an important service center to the ground is a disgrace. SF, the capital of gay world, will become a laughing stock if its LGBT center goes into bankruptcy.
With that said, that location is a travesty anyway. You would think the LGBT center should be much closer to the Castro. Like where the Record Tower used to be. Pottery Barn would be a great place.
When was the last time that a fat kid, a short kid or an ugly kid get beaten and tied up on a fence left to die because they are fat, short, or ugly?
Posted by: jaja at March 10, 2010 8:39 PM
The city is only loaning the LGBT Center $157k for now (with the possibility of more in loan guarantees in the future). The city has spent more than $157k (far more) to build one unit of affordable housing, occupied by a single person.
Presumably, in a better economy, the LGBT Center's ability to raise money will improve.
The city has spent money on all kinds of particular groups-- funding La Raza Centro Legal's Day Labor Program, providing services to Asian seniors, etc etc. In this case, the fact that this is a loan guarantee rather than an outright grant means much less ultimate fiscal impact on the city.
Posted by: Dan at March 10, 2010 8:47 PM
What follows is part of a letter from the Center responding to the Examiner article:
What we are not is in foreclosure – nor are we asking the City for a $1 million bailout.
For the last 24 months, we have been diligently working on a number of strategic financial initiatives to reduce expenses and increase revenue.
* Two years ago we began a program to cut costs and have been successful at cutting a total of $300,000 a year from the annual budget of $2.1 million. While those expense reductions have been difficult, they have been strategic, allowing us to preserve our core services and programs.
* We have also been pursuing strategies to increase our revenue. (more...)
These efforts are being successful. We ended last year with less than a $6,000 operating loss, against revenues of $2.1 million. This year we are on track to have another break-even year. This is no small feat when non-profits and for-profits are reporting record losses throughout the country.
Media coverage of the Center has focused on these efforts, but most recently there was a significant misrepresentation of the facts and our situation.
We do have $3.2 million in outstanding debt related to the construction of the building, which has been carried in a loan with First Republic Bank. After almost a year of very difficult bargaining, we have achieved a loan modification that financially benefits the Center. This includes a reduction our interest rate, which will save $200,000 over the next five years, and a modification of principle payments to help cash flow. The bank is requiring that we create a reserve account, with a balance of $157,500 – reserves which we do not have. The City have been involved in the discussions from the beginning and Supervisors Bevan Dufty and David Campos are sponsoring legislation to provide a loan from the City to the Center. This is a loan and not a grant. It is also $157,500 – not over $1 million as is reported in some sources.
Posted by: curmudgeon at March 11, 2010 6:26 AM