The popular roller skating venue at an abandoned church on Fillmore Street called The Church of 8 Wheels has been thwarted in its efforts to reopen to the public at least three times since November. The rink reopened as announced on March 12 — apparently believing it could do so at 10% capacity, as indoor gyms and fitness centers currently can under the "Red" tier — but the city attorney shut it all down days later.
"Well folks, no harm no foul!!!" writes the venue's proprietor, longtime SF skate enthusiast David Miles, after posting the violation notice from City Attorney Dennis Herrera to Facebook. "The Church of 8 Wheels didn't get fined or anything like that. They treated us just like they do all business[es] during these trying times."
In the letter, dated Tuesday, March 16, Herrera said that "a city inspector observed 15-20 skaters using the indoor rink" last weekend, and "unfortunately, indoor roller skating rinks are not yet allowed to open in San Francisco."
Indoor roller skating falls under the category of "family entertainment" in the state's framework, Herrera explains, and it will only be allowed to open when SF reaches the "Yellow" tier. At that point, the rink can open at 50% capacity, but not sooner.
San Francisco is currently expected to enter the "Orange" tier by next Tuesday, March 24. Advancement to the "Yellow" tier, assuming the city's COVID metrics continue in the right direction, would be at least three weeks after that.
Miles, who brought Black Rock Roller Disco to Burning Man back in 1999, has been hosting skating at the former Sacred Heart Church at 554 Fillmore Street since 2013. The church, which has been slated for redevelopment and was most recently supposed to go before Planning last March, remains in a sort of limbo, and Miles expects to keep having skating there for the indefinite future.
"I think the classification they have [roller skating] under is wrong," Miles told the Chronicle this week, adding that he had invested $12,000 in various improvements to keep staff and skaters safe. These include an upper-air ultraviolet sterilization system, and hospital-grade UVC lights — all of which was installed back in November when SF was briefly in the "Yellow" tier before the city began sliding backwards.
Every Friday during the pandemic, Miles has been hosting Skatin’ Place at the Golden Gate Park outdoor roller rink, where he's been regular for decades. But ever since last March, he hasn't been able to open up the Church of 8 Wheels, and it will remain dark for another month at least.
As for the violation order, Miles tells SFGate, "I'm not fighting this. We all have to be a little more patient and that is the example I would like to set."
In the meantime, here's #TBT from 2018.
Photo: Kenny Hoff/Youtube