Tony Huerta, the owner of the well worn and well loved SoMa gay bar The Lone Star Saloon (1354 Harrison Street), wants to get out the vote this November for a local ballot measure that could have a direct impact on his business. That's Proposition J, proposed back in June by Supervisor David Campos, in order to establish a fund to help underwrite the the ongoing sustainability of "legacy businesses" businesses in SF for 30 years or more, as selected by the Historic Preservation Commission for their cultural value. Huerta is concerned about the future of The Lone Star, because his lease is currently up in four years, and the landlord is saying he wants to "keep his options open" and doesn't want to write a longer lease for the place.
While the Lone Star's potential closure is therefore not imminent, it is one of many businesses across the city facing similar pressures as rents have skyrocketed along with land values in the last few years. Among those businesses that have recently come under threat with a rent increase is the 109-year-old Roxie Theater on 16th Street, as the Business Times reported.
The registry of legacy businesses has already been established, as of last fall, and it allows for a list of up to 300 businesses per year that meet the above criteria. Proposition J would strengthen that ordinance, setting aside a fund, taken out of the city's general fund, that would allow for grants to the businesses of $500 per employee for the business, and $4.50 per square foot to the landlord - a maximum annual grant of $22,500 to supplement the rent being charged, if they extend the business's lease to 10 years.
In the case of the Lone Star, they haven't quite had their 30th birthday yet, and will have to try to join the registry after that happens. But, as you may recall, there's been plenty of popular support in the past to preserve the oldest gay establishments in SoMa, like The Eagle, which nearly disappeared via a sale to new owners several years ago.
Huerta calls on all of us to vote for , "Help preserve the fabric of San Francisco [and] fight back against gentrification. Help keep The Lone Star around for another 30 years."