True to form, the dispute over whether to destroy the Victorian at 1800 Market Street, has taken a decidedly nasty tone, as evidenced by a press conference held at the site of the future Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transsexual Community Center November 11.
A spirited group of about 50 Save the Victorian partisans gathered to unveil its "Save This Building" billboard, accompanied by Community Center Project (CCP) board members there to offer their own spin. There was a public plea from demolition opponent Jim Siegel for a boycott of all CCP's fund-raisers, as well as allegations that demolition proponents are trying to get the billboard pulled down. Meanwhile, the CCP alleged that demolition opponents were planning to infiltrate and sabotage a CCP fundraising dinner, and some CCP members were trying to further publicize some nasty anti-CCP phone messages that had been left on an individual's answering machine and previously published in a local paper.
Supervisor Leland Yee showed up to offer his support for saving the building, while at the same time pleading for consensus and conciliation. "Community divisiveness pains me," declared Yee to no one in particular.
Rob Bregoff, a former volunteer with the CCP, saw the willingness of the board to tear down the Victorian as "a symptom that the board has become less and less involved in the community. The board should be inviting the community in. I want the board to meet in public view."
CCP board members said the demolition is essential for the survival of the project, both because they cannot afford not to demolish the building and because it would not work as a community center in its current configuration. CCP board member Mark Leno said the Victorian is built on sand and that any restoration work would have to be up to federal guidelines using union labor and hewing to federal preservation guidelines.
"If it skyrockets in price, who will foot bill?" asked Leno. "Who will come up with the money? We are trying to open a great center and be responsible."
The SF Human Rights Commission got into the picture on November 13 with an offer to mediate the dispute. Leno said the board has accepted the offer.