Girl, Interceptored

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That’s MS. Meter maid to you buddy.

Another hopeless romantic

Tight quarters for a couple of newlyweds. But it is a place to live in the Mission!

Former lesbian bar feted with plaque

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Though gone more than a year, the Lexington Club has staked out a permanent spot on its old corner of 19th Street Monday in the form of a commemorative plaque.

On Monday afternoon, owner Lila Thirkield, former staff, politicians and about a hundred fans of the bar turned out for the plaque’s unveiling and to celebrate the Lexington’s 18 years at 3463 19th St. Now home to the upscale Wildhawk, the iconic Mission lesbian bar closed in April 2015 following its sale to the Plumpjack Group.

A Facebook page for the event notes that the “plaque recognizes the incredible contribution the Lexington Club made to the LGBT community in San Francisco, particularly in providing a space for queer women and trans people.

“During its 18 years of operation, the bar was known for its wild nights, “never a cover” slogan, famous restroom graffiti, great staff and community support,” the page says.

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[Photos by Blair Craig]

Gripe with artist results in vandalism at second Mission mural

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A tagger who has been using spray paint to express displeasure with a Mission mural appears to have chosen a new target: the same artist’s work on a building one street over.

The stencil art of sea turtles along one side of the PG&E substation at 19th and San Carlos streets has been repeatedly tagged including with the words “Latino art only.”  On Sunday, a series of squids painted along 20Mission, the tech hostel at 20th and Mission streets, were crossed out along with artist fnnch’s signature. Some of the squids had been put up days before according to a post on fnnch’s Instagram account.

In an email this morning fnnch said he’s sure all the vandalism is the work of one person. While he hadn’t yet had a chance to repair the squids, he said he planned to and doesn’t “see any reasonable option for myself but to keep maintaining these walls.” Here’s what else he had to say:

I can’t let one person terrorize me out of creating artwork. The owners like the art and the neighbors like the art. I also don’t live my life based on the approval of single individuals, particularly someone whom I suspect is an angry 16-year-old boy with a racist and nativist world view. Though I do apparently allocate my time based on his whims.

Overall I’m frustrated, but one thing I’ve come to believe is that hate is not the opposite of love — apathy is. That my art can provoke such a strong response in someone is a sign I’m on the right track, doubly so because the content itself is non-controversial (unlike say, political art). As legendary music producer Rick Rubin said, “the best art divides the audience.”

Pant-y raid

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Not the stolen pants. [Photo via Elkulak/Twitter]

A man selling items on Mission Street as temperatures soared Sunday afternoon was reportedly beaten and robbed of an unlikely item: a pair of pants.

According to authorities, the 64-year-old victim had items for sale on the sidewalk on the 1800 block of Mission, near 14th Street, when three or four people approached him around 3:50 p.m. A woman in the group then struck him in the head with an electrical cord and ran off with the pants, police said.

The man’s injuries were not life-threatening.

2005 Capp Street fire, one of the deadliest in recent city history

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Firefighter battling the 2005 Capp Street fire, which killed three. [Photo courtesy of Spencer Mack]


Mirtha Estrada lost everything the day she jumped from her third-story window in 2005. Everything except, surprisingly, her life.

Smoke had filled her apartment and she yelled for help before plummeting three stories to the sidewalk. According to an account of her ordeal written by a local non-profit, Estrada spent months recuperating at San Francisco General Hospital where doctors, struck by her resilience, called her “milagros,” or “miracle.” Her husband, daughter and another man died in the same fire at 395 Capp Street 11 years ago today. Nine others were injured.

“To this day I don’t know I how survived,” Estrada told the non-profit, Instituto Laboral de la Raza, which helped her and other victims of the blaze.

The deadliest fire in the Mission in more than 10 years, the Sept. 15, 2005 fire at Capp and 19th Streets could be traced back to a simple household item: a mattress.

The official cause of the fire remains undetermined. But investigators said in a report that it “most probably involved” the full-size mattress left in the 12-unit building’s narrow stairwell — the residents’ primary path to safety.

According to the March 2, 2006 fire investigation report, one of the men who lived in the building said he did not see the mattress when he left around 1:50 a.m. Less than an hour later, it mysteriously appeared.

Oddly positioned at the bottom of the staircase on the first floor, the mattress burned so intensely that no material was left on it and the door to nearby apartment No.1 gave way and fell on top of it, the report said.

It also proved a fiery obstacle for firefighters who arrived on scene just after 2:30 a.m.; one woman recalled getting her boot stuck in the mattress as she pulled a fire hose up the stairs. Another firefighter, Nicol Juratovic, suffered second- and third-degree burns from the heated mattress coils, according to a San Francisco Chronicle article dated Sept. 16, 2005.

Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White described it as a “stubborn obstacle” at the time.

“Because of the bed, they didn’t get much past that first floor landing,” she told the paper.

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The apartment’s stairs and what remained of the mattress, from a 2006 fire investigation report.

When fire investigators arrived, they saw flames “pouring out of a second-story window and extending to the third floor and roof.” Flames were also licking the roof from that window to Estrada’s apartment, no. 9. The three-alarm fire caused an estimated $1 million in damage and killed Mirtha “Lizette” Estrada, 23, Pastor Justo Estrada, 76, and Hilario Moreno-Demeza, 27. Six firefighters were among the 10 injured.

Despite the blaze’s gut-wrenching details, San Francisco Fire Department spokesman Jonathan Baxter declined to comment on whether he considered it one of the neighborhood’s worst. However, a map created by activist group Anti-Eviction Mapping Project using fire department data from January 2005 through May 2016 indicates that there were no other fires in the city during that time period with as many fatalities.

The fire report does not speculate as to whether the mattress came from inside the building or was dragged in from the street. It does mention police smelling gasoline in apartment No. 9 during a follow-up investigation, but said inspectors ultimately could not “conclusively determine the exact ignition scenario.”

Baxter said the cause remains undetermined barring any new evidence.

“Since the completion of this report, there has been no introduction or discovery of new information,” he wrote in response to a list of questions. “Furthermore, no person(s) have come forward with any new information regarding this report.”

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Flames rage in the 395 Capp Street’s front window. [Photo courtesy of Spencer Mack]

Estrada’s account of that night, which she told to investigators through a Spanish-speaking police officer and also outlined in a subsequent personal injury/wrongful death suit filed Aug. 31, 2006 was that the electricity went out and she smelled smoke but heard no alarms. She tried repeatedly to wake her husband, who had taken medicine that may have made him drowsy, and couldn’t find her daughter, because it was too smoky and dark. When no one responded to her cries, she decided to jump.

Pastor Estrada’s body was in a bedroom, while Lizette Estrada’s was found in apartment No.12, where firefighters reportedly moved her after finding her on the second-story landing below, according to the lawsuit.

The suit alleged that 395 Capp Street’s owners were negligent in the ownership, operation, management, maintenance and remodeling of the building, and failed to comply with permit requirements during their renovations, which “would have triggered fire safety inspections and enforcements.” The suit also accused the landlords of not complying with building and fire codes. The case ultimately settled in March 2010.

Property records show that Joseph and Julianne Schoepp purchased the building about a year before the fire. Joseph Schoepp did not respond to a message left for him through his family’s locksmith business.

While Estrada did initially agree to an interview, she failed to return subsequent calls from a Spanish-speaking third party who was helping to work out a meeting time.

Edward Nevin, who initially represented Estrada in the wrongful death suit but was later replaced by another attorney, said he wouldn’t blame her if she changed her mind and didn’t want to talk. But , he noted, “her story deserves to be told.

“It was a horrible, horrible experience. She just never really could recover emotionally. I just felt sorry for her,” Nevin said. “Her entire life died that night.”

Naked aggression? Officer injured in alleged attack by ‘partially nude’ man

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It was no olive branch, apparently. A nude man who reportedly threw a stick at passersby in the Mission was arrested last Friday after allegedly assaulting a police officer.

Robert Mathew Kaplan, 37, of San Diego, was arrested on suspicion of felony battery on a peace officer, felony battery causing serious bodily injury, felony assault with a deadly weapon, felony vandalism, felony aggravated mayhem and obstructing and resisting a peace officer.

The injured officer encountered Kaplan at 6:21 a.m. on the 3800 block of 25th Street after getting a report of a naked man chasing people and throwing a branch at them, according to San Francisco police spokeswoman Giselle Talkoff. Shortly after, the officer radioed in to say he and Kaplan, then only partially nude, were in a physical fight, Talkoff said.

Three other officers attempted to handcuff Kaplan but were only able to subdue him when additional help arrived, she said.

The officer who first responded suffered a severe bite mark to his right cheek and an injury to his right eye, which Kaplan allegedly tried to gouge out. He also had cuts on his hands and abrasions on his forearm that he got while trying to arrest Kaplan, Talkoff said.

Police are asking anyone who might have cellphone video of the incident to contact them.

Going with the flow: Former Clothes Contact becoming an upscale yoga studio

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The former Clothes Contact, which used to sell clothes by the pound, is changing into something skimpier.

After sitting vacant for at least a year, 473 Valencia St. is under construction and poised to become an upscale yoga studio called Love Story Yoga. Mehrad Eslami, vice president of Cocore Development Group, the construction management/general contractors for the project, said work is expected to be complete by late December. The studio should open soon after.

Eslami, who was out at the site Friday afternoon, said the studio itself will occupy 3,000 square feet at street level and that locker rooms and showers will be built out in the basement. State-of-the art heating will warm the space up.

A beloved thrift store and popular costume hunting spot, Clothes Contact was forced to close last year after nearly three decades in business because its landlord raised the rent to a reported $14,000 a month.

While it’s unclear if that’s what Love Story is paying, the studio may be more in line to afford it. It’s website already advertises 200 and 500-hour teacher trainings next year that cost $3,800 and $4,500 respectively. Stephanie Snyder, who is opening the studio and is one of teacher training instructors, is described on her website as “one of the country’s most sought after teachers.” It also says she’s been profiled or interviewed in publications ranging from Yoga Journal magazine to Redbook and InStyle Magazine. 

May you experience peace and joy today 💖 #lovestoryyoga #sanfranciscoyoga #yoga #peace

A photo posted by Love Story Yoga (@lovestoryyoga) on

Dramatic crash leaves woman critically injured

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A woman was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries late Thursday afternoon after an SUV hit her and six or seven parked cars before flipping over, police said.

Authorities arrested a 51-year-old man following the collision, which happened on Mission Street near 15th just after 4 p.m. The 62-year-old victim was getting into her car when the SUV struck her, police said.

[Photo via @ellngsn/Instagram]

You can still get a head in this town

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Creepiness afoot on Florida near 24th Street.

[Photo by CharleeMatti/Instagram]