On April 19, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors are expected to approve new restrictions on the use of genetic profiles by the San Francisco Police Department, buy a sweeping new facility from an industrial real estate giant, and try to save a historic movie theater in the Fillmore.
Privacy for Crime Victims
The board is set to approve Supervisor Hillary Ronen’s legislation to regulate the storage of DNA profiles by the San Francisco Police Department. The ordinance will prohibit genetic profiles gathered from crime victims or crime scenes from being stored in any database that is not subject to state and federal rules around the Combined DNA Index System, a national standard for submitting locally gathered profiles to the National DNA Index System.
- The legislation was inspired by a disclosure by District Attorney Chesa Boudin that SFPD was apparently comparing genetic profiles from crime victims to unidentified samples from crime scenes.
- The practice, while not illegal, potentially violated a city policy goal seeking to ensure that crime victims feel safe enough to report offenses. It had been going on for more than two years, and resulted in the arrest of a burglary suspect who had previously reported a sexual assault. The District Attorney’s Office ended up dropping charges against the suspect, who is now suing the city.
- Ronen and her co-sponsors hope that banning the practice will mitigate fear of reporting sexual assaults and similar crimes. State Senator Scott Wiener and Assemblymember Phil Ting have also introduced parallel legislation in Sacramento.
Real Estate Giant Holds Fire Sale
Supervisors will also consider, and likely pass, a resolution authorizing the purchase of a 4.91 acre site at 1236 Carroll Ave in the Bayview, which will be used by the San Francisco Fire Department as a new training facility. The property is currently owned by the industrial property giant Prologis, and its sticker price is $38.5 million plus closing costs.
- According to documents filed by the Planning Department, the new facility will replace training facilities maintained by SFFD in the Mission and on Treasure Island.
- A presentation at the Board’s Budget and Finance Committee revealed that the two-block area site will host classes running the gamut of department training: fire suppression, urban search and rescue, paramedic and behavioral health street incident training, and more. The site will also offer some mutual aid training programs for outside departments.
- Prologis, the entity selling the site, is a real estate investment trust that is also the largest industrial landlord in the world. Incidentally, it is also Amazon’s largest landlord. They were also among the first to develop multi-floor warehouses for urban settings.
- Prologis is developing the SF Gateway project in the Bayview on McKinnon Avenue. At more than 2 million square feet, it dwarfs the recently stalled Amazon project in SoMa. Prologis also made our list of top ten spenders on lobbying City Hall in 2021.
Saving Another Classic Theater. Or Not
Another item the Supervisors will likely greenlight is the landmarking of the Clay Theatre in the Fillmore. Local moviegoers probably best remember the Clay as one of San Francisco’s last neighborhood theaters, and as an exhibitor of independent and foreign films. In the halcyon days of moviegoing before Covid, an evening at the Clay might involve—depending on your taste—watching the latest Merchant Ivory film before dinner at Chouquet’s, or a midnight screening of “The Room" after being 86’d from Grubstake.
- The Clay stopped showing movies at the beginning of 2020. Since then, the building owner has been looking for a buyer willing to help recoup its losses after failing to get a change of use permit. One offer, from the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation, was turned down.
- The city’s Historic Preservation Commission recommended landmarking the Clay on March 9. The current owner, however, has concerns that a landmark designation will make selling the property even more difficult.
- Despite efforts to preserve single-screen cinemas in the city, over the last few decades similar theaters have been converted to gyms, condominiums or other uses. Currently six classic theaters remain open in San Francisco.
Mike Ege can be reached at [email protected]