Neighbors or Nuisance? Behind the Lower Polk Neighbors Association. Who: Lower Polk Neighbors is allegedly an organization striving for neighborhood beautification and cleanliness, but is actually a pro-gentrification attack squad that works with the police to rid neighborhood streets and businesses of undesirables, ie. Hookers, hustlers, drug addicts, homeless people, trannies, needle exchange services, working class queers, and other social deviants. Lower Polk Neighbors claim to be open to all, but primarily consist of wealthy property and business owners, slumlords, developers, bureaucrats, robber barons, police officers, and vigilante social purists. What: Lower Polk Neighbors works with the police to decide who is granted business and liquor licenses in the neighborhood and to encourage more surveillance and aggressive responses to quality of life crimes like graffiti, sleeping on the street, and public drunkenness. They also work with Larkin Street Youth Services to exploit vulnerable homeless youth as below-minimum wage labor to remove graffiti, clean trash off the streets, and plant trees for wealthy business owners (including Carolyn Abst, chair of Lower Polk Neighbors). When: Lower Polk Neighbors began meeting in late 2001 and has been a primary force behind the escalating gentrification in the neighborhood which has transformed Polk Street from the city’s last remaining public gathering place for marginalized queers and street culture into a hip destination for partying suburbanites, office drones, and fashionistas. In the last 4 years, trendy high-end straight bars have replaced San Francisco’s hustler and working class queer bars to such an extent that the neighborhood may soon be known more for green apple mojitos and stretch hummers than trannies and tweakers. Where: Lower Polk Neighbors haunts the Tenderloin neighborhood between Van Ness and Hyde, Ellis and Sacramento. Why: The goal of Lower Polk Neighbors is to remove outsider queers and social deviants from our neighborhood in order to accelerate property development and real estate profiteering. Lower Polk Neighbors holds no official powers, and wields influence only through their ties with the police. They also work with local officials to control the way city funding for the neighborhood is allocated. Their corrupt shenanigans will hopefully render them victims of their own urban removal agenda. Public service announcement provided by Gay Shame, a virus in the system.
text on top of david wojnarowicz's burning house stencil reads: "lower polk neighbors association: if you don't want hookers, drug addicts, queers, homeless people, trannies and hustlers in your neighborhood... then get the fuck out. we were here first. -- gay shame a virus in the system"
photo collage of high society debutantes with text positioned to cover their eyes that reads: "DO YOU WANT THESE PEOPLE ON POLK STREET? DOES SAN FRANCISCO NEED ANOTHER PLAYGROUND FOR THE WEALTHY? It's time for greedy developer, loitering real estate speculators, delusional Jesus-addicts, creepy 'neighborhoods' property owners' associations and corrupt city officials to stop vandalizing Polk Street with their sanitized 'visions for the future'! Do you feel depressed and overwhelmed as you watch Polk Street become another artifact of San Francisco history? Is there anything that can be done? We don't know, but come to a brainstorming meeting with other people outraged by this gentrification madness. -- Wednesday May 3, 6:30p.m. 509 Ellis @ Leavenworth -- Free food, conversation and culture brought to you by GAY SHAME: A Virus in the System www.gayshamesf.org -- Dede Wilsey's diamonds and Vanessa Getty's Judith Leiber clutch sent rays of light dancing about the room.