City Hall: Supervisor Eric Mar

Helping Save the Balboa - Our Neighborhood Theater
As the New Year of the Dragon opens, I have been busy building support to help save our beloved Balboa Theater in the Outer Richmond. I helped secure city funds to fund major improvements to the exterior of the theater that were completed in December. I have also been working with theater operator Gary Meyer and the non-profit SF Neighborhood Theater Foundation to build a fundraising campaign to help cover the costs of necessary repairs and improvements. 

I urge you to join me at our neighborhood theaters this year, the 4 Star (Clement at 23rd), Bridge (Geary/Blake) and Balboa. This month, the Balboa has a special showing on Jan. 15 of the Golden Globe Awards, and on Jan. 29 a special Jazz Night with a showing of "A Great Day in Harlem." For movie listings and to find out how you can help "save the Balboa," go to the website at www.balboamovies.com. For information about the Theater Foundation, go to www.sfntf.org.

Generous Gift Helps House Homeless Families
Three weeks ago, other supervisors and I heard heart wrenching testimony and stories from hundreds of homeless families and children from across the City at a Neighborhood Services Committee hearing. The testimony established that the number of families waiting for shelter in SF had reached crisis proportions. According to the SF Chronicle, there are 2,200 homeless children in SF schools, "some in shelters, others in cars, or on couches, or in long-term hotel rooms," which is 400 more homeless children than a year ago.

In response, spurred by a $1.5 million donation from Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce.com, and his wife, Lynne, Mayor Ed Lee announced the City would match the Benioffs' gift and find housing as soon as possible for homeless families in shelters and on the shelter's wait list.

In the last weeks of December I helped convene community meetings with Catholic Charities, our neighborhood Star of the Sea Church's Father Brian Costello, the San Francisco Organizing Project's local organizing committee, and merchant and neighborhood leaders to discuss the need and give feedback on a proposal by Catholic Charities for a "Star Community Home" for "clean and sober," formerly homeless mothers with children. Lee and his staff and our Richmond Station police leadership have been instrumental in working with relevant city departments to ensure that this critically needed project is open as soon as possible.

The home will be located at the former convent at the Star of the Sea Parish, located at 4350 Geary Blvd., and will initially house 12 families, mothers with children. The lease for the project is 18 months. As families are able to transition to permanent housing, new families will move in, allowing Catholic Charities to serve many more families over the entire length of the project.

The home aims to provide a safe place to live for some of San Francisco's most vulnerable homeless families while stabilizing their living situation, developing a plan for how to secure family stability, and receiving intensive support to facilitate their move to permanent housing.

Rerouting the Muni 44 O'Shaughnessy Bus Line
Over the past months I successfully worked with Eighth Avenue neighbors who were concerned that an abrupt and unannounced Muni rerouting of the #44 O'Shaughnessy bus from Seventh Avenue over to Eighth Avenue was creating a safety hazard for school children at the Star of the Sea and Peabody schools who were walking along the route. I worked with Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) staff to devise a more appropriate route. After directives from my office and advocacy from community members, the MTA rerouted the bus line so that it would travel on Clement Street, Park Presidio Boulevard and California Street, thus avoiding residential streets altogether.

Coffee Hour with Eric
My next coffee hour is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 19, at 10 a.m., at the Simple Pleasures Roasting Company, 3434 Balboa St. For more information, call my office at (415) 554-7410 or e-mail me at eric.l.mar@sfgov.org.