San Francisco

Castro-Bound AIDS Non-Profit Suing The City In Federal Court

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, an AIDS non-profit that currently runs a pharmacy next to the Out of the Closet (100 Church Street) at Church and Duboce and took over operations at Mom's Pharmacy (4071 18th Street) in 2012, is suing the City of San Francisco, the Board of Supervisors, and Supervisor Scott Wiener in federal court on the grounds that the city has discriminated against them from opening up a third location in the Castro at the old Under One Roof location (518 Castro Street). The AHF, which operates 34 other locations throughout the United States, tried to circumvent the formula retail rules set by the Planning Commission that state any business that operates 11 or more locations in the US is considered formula retail and needs to apply for a conditional use permit for consideration by the Planning Department and community members. The AHF changed the name of the business dropping AHF from the name and believed that was enough to consider them a wholly different business. It would be akin to Taco Bell opening a location in the Castro under the name "Taco Time" avoiding a conditional use authorization and also avoiding the community-based planning process. Neighbors and AIDS activists who came out against the AHF's actions trying to circumvent the law were concerned that a large chain would put other established pharmacies in the Castro out of business. Others have also been concerned about the AHF's position on using Truvada as a preexposure prophylactic (PreP) for HIV prevention ever since the AHF's President Michael Weinstein came out against Truvada for PreP calling it a "party drug."  According to the Examiner:

Race Bannon, an HIV activist who opposed the move, said the group was not blocked from relocating because of its position on PrEP. Instead, the "Walmart of HIV pharmacies," as Bannon dubbed AHF, was challenged for being a predatory operation that would put established HIV pharmacies out of business, he claimed.
AIDS activists held a protest outside the AHF's 18th Street location 2 weeks ago lead by District 8 Supervisor candidate Michael Petrelis and #TruvadaWhore campaign founder Adam Zeboski. The AHF has also been delinquent on paying their rent at their Church Street location, according to the Bay Area Reporter. In response to the AHF's actions, Castro's Supervisor Scott Wiener along with Supervisors David Campos and Eric Mar put forth and passed legislation closing the renaming loophole. The AHF is crying foul by suing the City charging that its civil rights were violated and that it was targeted in a discriminatory manner. Supervisor Wiener released a statement saying the lawsuit has no merit suggesting it will fail,
"The lawsuit is baseless. AHF tried to game our formula retail law by tweaking its name and then claiming it wasn't actually formula retail. Under AHF's approach, any chain store could come into San Francisco, tweak its name, and claim that it isn't formula retail. A broad coalition of HIV service providers and neighborhood groups came together to oppose this tactic. I then co-sponsored legislation with my colleagues Supervisors David Campos and Eric Mar to close this loophole, and the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed the legislation. I stand by that action to preserve the integrity of our neighborhood-based planning process."
via SF Examiner

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