Category Archives: President’s Update

President’s Update: New Years Resolutions for the Castro

In January of each year, millions of Americans make resolutions. Resolutions to better themselves: to go to the gym (this is the Castro, after all); to eat healthier; to spend more time with family and friends. Resolutions to expand your horizons: reading more books; traveling to far-flung destinations; cooking new recipes.

Self-improvement is a noble goal, and an important one, but what of the greater good?

In 2020, my resolution is to help improve the Castro, this beautiful, historic, vibrant neighborhood we all live in. I have a lot of ideas, but what I really want is to create a way to get everyone in the neighborhood involved to make a difference. To enact and execute tangible, momentous projects and leave a lasting legacy for future generations.

I invite you to share your vision, your passion, and your commitment at the Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association’s first public meeting of the year. We will meet this Thursday, January 23, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. at the Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, 100 Diamond St.

 This meeting is an opportunity to brainstorm and help set the EVNA’s agenda for 2020 and beyond. I hope you will join us.

Some proposals I’ve heard from neighbors include the following:

  • Collingwood Park Revitalization/Rebuild
  • Neighborhood Block Party
  • Greater insight into and educational opportunities for planning and land use issues
  • Decreasing commercial vacancies
  • Creating hyperlocal services for our unhoused and transient neighbors
  • Traffic improvements for a safer neighborhood

The power of one person is inherently limited, but the power of a committed group of citizens can accomplish anything. Please join us on Thursday to help build a vision for the Castro’s future!

President’s Update: November 2019

I’ve just passed a major milestone in my life which has undeniably repositioned the anchor to which I have tethered my sense of home. I’ve now lived here for just over 30 years- now counting more years in California than in my home state of Michigan. No matter the calendar, nor the count of the years, it’s been true for me that I’ve felt more at home in San Francisco than anywhere else.

This city had welcomed me when I was broken and afraid as a 28 year old young man, it’s helped me declare and sharpen who I am each day, and it’s provided a community from which I’ve drawn my closest friends and family, on par with my own blood family, whom I love so much. Over these 30 years, I’ve become more whole, I’ve learned to stand shoulder to shoulder with my peers, I have found my voice to declare what is important, and I’ve found a community in which I can give of myself and be supported by them in return.

In these past years, it’s become clear to me that I’m living the life I used to only dream of. Even more importantly, I’ve pulled down the rose colored glasses of youth and fantasy, and have come to appreciate it for all it’s multi-textured, irregular, and at times worrisome, outcomes. While there’s much, much work for us to do as a community, for the most part, we’ve got it pretty good here. It’s all part of the crazy story of the Eureka Valley.

None of my 30 years have been more fulfilling than those in service to the EVNA. As a supporter, a board member, and finally now as president, I’ve been fortunate to meet so many of the hearts and hands who work in our rich community: the Castro Merchants, Ford Street Neighborhood Action Group, the volunteers of the Castro Community on Patrol, the reporters and city representatives in our local government. What my time in position has affirmed is that our community is a diverse and wonderful place, with its own energy and inertia that can sometimes weigh us down, and at others fill our tanks in service of our common interests. As president, seizing the positive momentum has been my objective all along; we’ve worked hard to provide a needed forum for education, insight and discussion in the hopes we better understand our obligations to each other, and take advantage of the opportunities that lie before us. We've expanded our membership, drawn neighbors out to say Hello. We've built our online historical archive and bolster our social media presence. I’d like to think the EVNA is stronger as a result of our efforts over these past two years.

With my eyes widened and my heart full, it’s now time to pass the baton of leadership to another. A special “thank you” to the many people who have served on one of EVNA’s committees and on the board of directors, giving their time, insight, skills, funds, and energy to keep the EVNA running. I’m grateful to have worked with these fine souls, and wish the new president and board the best in their years to come.

Thank you Alex Lemberg, Kevin Cureton, Griffin Gaffney, Mary Edna Harrell, Rob Anderson, Rob Cox, Rob LeVan, Loic Olichon, Dan Schulman, and Desmond Morgan and Steve Clark Hall~ what a great bunch of neighborhood heroes and nerds!

President’s Update September 2019

President's Update; September 2019

Building community has been one of EVNA’s primary goals since our founding in 1881. In the last two years, since I’ve assumed the post of president, we’ve been busy bringing people together around different interests and causes: whether its mayoral debates or movie nights, I’ve been happy to see our neighbors and members joining in the action. The Castro and Eureka Valley is (by a long shot) one of the most community focused and engaged neighborhoods in the city.

There have been plenty of activities to get engaged in over the summer and more planned for this fall. If you’ve got an interest, please reach out and help in any way you’re able, we’d love to have you.

The 2nd round of the Castro Welcome Pack has been assembled and delivered by an army of volunteers in August. We received a list of over 300 new names and addresses this past quarter of those  moving into the neighborhood, and managed to pack and distribute welcome packets to most of those. A big thank you to all the board members and volunteers who gave their time and effort, especially to Barrie Simpson, who went above and beyond in making deliveries and getting the word out about EVNA.

As a follow on to the Welcome Packet was the Neighbors Mixer- we sent postcards to those on the Welcome Packet list, as well as sent an email out to member’s inviting everyone to the mixer on August 10th at the Spark Arts Gallery on 18th Street. This is such a cool space to meet up for tasty coffee and baked goods from Spike’s Coffee on 19th, check out the current art on display, and sit around the comfy living room furniture and catch up with each other for an hour or two. I have to say this is one of my favorite spaces and definitely my favorite EVNA event. We’ll have the next mixer in November sometime.

Looking forward on the calendar is the upcoming EVNA movie night on Saturday September 28 at 7pm! Mark your calendars and tell your neighbors. This is our second annual event sponsored by Vanguard Properties on Castro Street. The board is busy finishing up the planning and details. It will be held again on the Rikki Streicher Field at the EV Rec Center, corner of Diamond and 19th Street. The movie title will be announced as soon as we have it. This will be a great family event, free to all but donations welcome.


And most importantly, we are gearing up for elections at our November 25th public meeting. Nearly h

alf of the current board is up for election, and new board members are welcomed and encouraged to run. If you live in the EVNA footprint, are a dues paying member, and would like to throw your hat in the ring, please email me with a headshot and a brief statement about you and your aspirations as a leader in the community. Women, persons of color, people of all persuasions, ethnicities and orientations are welcomed and supported.

Please plan to join us at our next public meeting on September 25th in the upstairs meeting room at the EV Rec Center. Meeting starts at 7pm, doors open at 6:45pm. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing you around the neighborhood.

President’s update: March 2019

It’s spring again, and there’s lots to keep us busy! With the new year, we are taking focus on issues and matters important to us as a neighborhood- and we are raising the stakes and calling membership into action.

The newsletter committee is publishing its second edition in digital format later this month. Not only is the committee hard at work pulling together March’s content, but they’re adapting their work processes, figuring out best practices for content collection and distribution systems, and also getting our advertisers renewed and making calls to bring in new advertisers. These guys don’t know the meaning of “stop” because they go till it’s done…hat’s off to Psyche, Rob, Mary Edna and Steve! Look for the next edition coming out around March 20, 2019. If you’d like to advertise your business or cause, click here- Advertise in the Eureka, and submit your payment and artwork! Be sure to support out advertisers and all the businesses in the Castro. Look for the one page "teaser" newsletter on doorsteps around central Castro, or sign up for the digital version at

We’ve reserved the March issue of the Eureka! to cover topics important to EVNA’s Planning and Land Use Committee. You’ll find fascinating articles on the basics of planning and land use terminology, one explaining the process used to interact with developers and the planning department for balanced outcomes. Another article covers who’s on the committee and how you can attend or join. You can read about Collingwood Park- ever wonder when that dirty old dog park is going to get some much needed attention, or how the park got surrounded by those super high fences (I do!)? Lastly, you may have heard about SF’s Board of Supervisors Aaron Peskin’s proposed ordinance SFBOS 181216, which is his attempt to reign in developers/ builders/ speculators who sometimes abuse the city’s demolition and renovation rules and regulations to unfair advantage. We do need to safeguard our rich architectural history while doing whatever is in our power to build more units, but does the ordinance go too far? Read up- you’re going to be asked to weigh in when it comes to public hearings later in March or April.

Who decides what gets built where?
SF Parks Alliance helps communities and parks raise funds to ensure the health and well-being of these vital assets.

Ever wonder how to bring a community dream into reality? Think back recently to the efforts you may have participated in regarding a potential redesign of the Harvey Milk Plaza, or when we widened the sidewalks- those are examples of a community improvements process, and wow, that was a lot of organizing, talking, listening, hand holding, etc. Well, EVNA sent several delegates to attend the SF Parks Alliance’s Partner Conference 2019 to learn more about the process to bring community projects into reality. It was a full day workshop with guest speakers and locals experienced in the process. We’ll have an update posted for you in the Eureka! Who knows, we may even think of a worthy community project to get behind at some point.

The Mission Dolores Green Benefit District (MD-GBD) is a great example of a community improvement project- this group of dedicated and passionate residents are working to create a “green benefit district” around Dolores Park, two of the edges are west of Castro and south of Market Street (where it would dovetail into the Castro Community Benefits District). Conan McHugh has been EVNA’s liaison, and is now inviting EVNA members and local residents to a Focus Group to provide their input on the project. Are you curious? What are your thoughts? Contact Conan McHugh, 650.722.6347 or

The City of San Francisco is considering a 5 year pilot program to expand conservatorship in an effort to get some of many individuals who experience extreme mental and drug related illnesses, into care and off the streets.

On another important front, you’ll be hearing more about SB-1045, written by Scott Weiner and passed into law by Governor Brown, it’s scheduled soon to be considered by our own Board of Supervisors. The law creates a five-year pilot program allowing for strengthened conservatorship laws that focus on providing housing and wraparound services for people suffering from mental health and substance use issues. There are many questions we should be asking to ensure humane and well monitored support systems to those suffering the most, and it’s one of the few tools we have to actually try to help some to get stable enough to actually change their circumstances. We’re asking our members to read up on this pilot program and support it however possible- send an email or letter to SF Supervisors, attend the hearings coming up, and get involved. The word is there will be a lot of push-back by the Coalition on Homelessness and other civil liberties groups. What’s your position?

Reach WAAAAY back, and try to recall anything you may have heard about the Welcome Wagon? I’m not old enough, but I have been told, neighbors used to make a big effort to welcome new neighbors when they moved in. Why can’t we do that again? I’m really excited to announce the Castro Welcome Pack! With grant funds from the city, and coordination with the Castro CBD, the Castro Merchants, and Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association, we are going to bring the tradition back to life! EVNA volunteers will visit new neighbors every quarter and deliver a Castro-branded wine tote full of information about the EVNA, our neighborhood history, and including lots of coupons and special offerings from Castro area Merchants! It’s all an attempt to build community, make new friends and promote our shopping district. It’s going to be a blast. I’ll be knocking on doors myself- would love to have you join me.

As a final mention- I’m sad to hear that Lion Barrett has passed in December 2018. He lived on 17th Street, and served as a past president of the EVNA from 1998-2001 (then called the EVPA). We don’t have many details, and if you can share pictures or memories, we’ll be sure to include them in the March newsletter.

As you can see, there’s a lot going on in Eureka Valley, and I’m looking forward to seeing you around the neighborhood, be sure to say “hello”.

Our next general meeting is:

Wednesday, March 27th

7:00pm to 8:30

Doors open about 6:45pm

Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy on 19th at Collingwood in the Cafeteria

January 2019 Meeting Update

Joe Applebaum and Stu Maddux present on the epidemic of loneliness hitting our culture.

Here's What You May Have Missed...

Many thanks to those who made our January 2019 general meeting quite fun and informative.

Stu Maddux and Joe Applebaum are documentarians working on their newest project: The Minister of Loneliness. They're making a film about the increasing phenomenon of loneliness in our ever more connected culture- an epidemic found in nearly every country and on most continents. Young adults and seniors are two of the most susceptible groups to experience a growing sense of disconnect. The symptoms are sometimes hard to identify, but often are related to feelings of despondency, physical lethargy, isolation and depression. Our audience came up with some easy steps to safeguard our well-being: take a walk around the block and say "hello" to those you meet. Call someone you trust and ask for help. Create boundaries for healthy use of social media. Join a local group like EVNA, a church, a bowling league- anything to get out of your house and engaged with others.

Click here to learn how you can support the project:

The Castro Mission Medical Facility is going to get an upgrade.

We also learned about the proposed upgrades to the Castro-Mission Medical Facility on 18th Street. The interior floor plan is going to flip allowing for bigger exam rooms, a staff break room, and better offices, and on the outside, there will seismic fittings and a makeover to freshen the building look, including a reconfiguration of the landscaping removing the overgrown eucalyptus trees and planting more Mexican Fan Palm trees.

Supervisor Mandelman made a cameo appearance, giving us an update on his on-going work to address homelessness and improve street conditions in our neighborhood, District 8 and the city at large. Especially important to deal with the most severe cases of mental distress that we see daily, is our support of SB1045. Rafael anticipates there will be well organized resistance to SB1045 by the Coalition on the Homeless and other civil liberties groups when the proposal is presented at the Board of Supervisors meeting, and has asked that we show up to weigh in as residents. EVNA will let members and residents know when the meeting is scheduled.

We also presented the Castro Welcome Packet- this project is result of months of collaboration by the neighborhood groups: DTNA, EVNA, Castro Merchants and the CDB, working together as the Castro Retail Strategy group. The idea is welcome new residents moving into the area, promote the neighborhood association, and encouraging them to shop our Castro businesses. We've designed a cool looking wine tote with Castro branding on it, and it will contain information on the local neighborhood group and as many discount and special offer to Castro businesses as possible. EVNA is looking forward to welcoming our new neighbors, and we are looking for volunteers to get them delivered!

Don't Forget:
Neighborhood Meet & Greet!

Saturday, Feb 9th from 3-5pm
Poesia Osteria Italiana

4072 18th Street between Castro and Hartford Streets
Passed hors d'oeuvres and cash bar

Next General Meeting is:
Wednesday, March 27th, 7pm-8:30pm
Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy
19th at Collingwood Streets


Mark D McHale, President

My hope is that you enjoyed your holidays and have made some neighborhood affirming resolutions for 2019.

The next general meeting is:

Wednesday January 23rd, 2019

7:00 pm to 8:30 pm (doors open at 6:45)

Harvey Milk School (cafeteria, 19th at Collingwood).

We've made such great strides over the first year of my administration; stabilizing our ship's finances, locking in 170 paid memberships, defining our organizational structure, and broadening our outreach to the community. My hat is off to the board and all our members for the continued effort and support you've provided- hopefully you had some fun as we did with the "theme" meetings, the raffle prizes, the first annual movie night, and (remember?) the Mayoral Debate in the spring.

With such progress, I'm happy to set some new goals for 2019. For my administration's second year, we're going to kick everything up a notch. I have drafted and am now implementing "Roles and Responsibilities" for every board member and each committee chair, and will also complete a charter for each active committee in the first quarter. These documents clarify the duties and responsibilities we have in our respective roles on the board as well as set the expectations we owe one another and our members. For me, these documents stand for the promise we make to each other in the service of EVNA .

Alex Lemberg, Vice President

Alex Lemberg has been elevated to the role of Vice President. Alex has been instrumental in revising our Bylaws and has provided the board with sound council and insight from an attorney's perspective as we make our progress. I'm looking forward to working with Alex in his new capacity as VP to help run the board, keep EVNA viable and compliant as a non-profit entity, and of course, his help grooming our future leaders in service to the community.

Kevin Cureton, Treasurer
Desmond Morgan, Board Member, Membership

Newly elected to the board is Kevin Cureton as Treasurer. Kevin will take ownership of the new Finance Committee. Kevin is eager to take the next steps toward needed improvements in our financial reporting and procedures, and has shared with me his goals for tax compliance, and increased tracking and transparency our revenues and expenses.

Let's also welcome Desmond Morgan to the board who has agreed to breathe life into the Membership Committee- he's got his work cut out for him. Desmond will go to work defining the scope, outlining the structure, and the duties of that committee: from dues assessment, to member benefits and recruiting, I will be working with Desmond to lay on the love for our existing members and to throw open the doors to welcome new comers.

And a special congratulations to Mary Edna Harrell on accepting another 2 year term as Newspaper/Marketing co-chair. Mary Edna will be working the committee to update the format of the newsletter publication. We're going to see big changes as we bring the newsletter into the 21st century! I am pleased and grateful for her many years of service to the community.

Dan Schulman has also joined the board and will continue his work on a more formal basis with Chair Loic Olichon on the Planning and Land Use committee. These gentlemen will continue their work to re-invigorate the group while putting in place procedures for handling the huge volume of public notices and building permit review requests within the EVNA footprint.

I also want to share with you another promising program that's coming to life this spring- the Castro Welcome Packet. For months, the Castro Retail Strategy panel has been working on ways to promote our neighborhood and commercial districts with the aim of keeping retail shops full and shoppers shopping in this changing economy. EVNA has been working with other neighborhood stakeholders (the Castro CBD, Castro Merchants, Duboce Triangle) to create a Welcome Packet- which we will hand deliver quarterly to new residents as a way of saying "welcome" to the Castro/Eureka Valley neighborhood and as a way to get new nieghbors connected to our group while promoting the Castro shops and restaurants at the same time. Stay tuned for more details. If you're interested in joining the effort- let me know.

As we get geared up for 2019, I am excited about what we are doing together as neighbors- it's an amazing ride so far, and it's only going to get better. I couldn't imagine doing this without you- our members.

Thanks so much for a great ride!

I'll see YOU around the neighborhood!

President’s Update: EVNA Elections in November

President's Update:

We're almost to the holidays, can you believe it? I love these days of fall temperatures and colors; the shorter daylight hours bring longer shadows and longer nights to be indoors and enjoy the comforts of a cozy home.

October's first ever EVNA Movie Night was a big success- the board hosted the event (thanks to everyone!), setting up and welcoming 75 guests from all over the neighborhood and surrounding areas. COCO  on the big screen and outdoors brought back a lot of fond memories of my own small town, close knit community experience. The kids (and there were MANY!) really seemed to enjoy singing along and watching the story unfold.

Next upon us is elections- the EVNA elections, that is.  As I watch the events unfolding on a national level, I am even more convinced of the importance of local service- where we actually meet each other face to face and engage with one another as neighbors. You can do good by being a part of EVNA, and serving on the board or on a committee is a great way to build relationships and create the bond of community.

To date, we've had a high level of interest in those considering joining the board, but you if you'd like to run, there's still time.

  • Vice President
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Board Member at Large (up to 5 new)

Candidates wishing to stand for election to the Board must have their names submitted by October 31st. You must have a paid EVNA membership, live within the boundaries laid out in the newly adopted Bylaws (under the "About" tab), and be confirmed by the Board before elections at our General Meeting on 11/28. Email me with your questions.

Our next General Meeting meeting is Nov 28th, 2018 in the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy cafeteria from 7-8:30 (doors open at 6:40-ish). We'll have EVNA elections at this meeting, and then focused our attention on our theme for the holidays: "Good Neighbor."  We'll take a well deserved look at those among us who volunteer for service and give of themselves and their resources to make our neighborhood closer and more caring. There's a LONG list to consider!

See you around the neighborhood!

Mark D McHale




9/26 Membership Meeting

President's Update:

Our September general meeting focused on Quality of Life issues. Though we had some last minute changes to the presenters list, we managed to put on a very informative meeting.

Thanks to Vietnam Nguyen from the George Gascon's DA's office (who I hear is NOT going to be running for re-election!). Vietnam discussed attempts by his office to reach out to communities across the city to improve communications, crime reporting, and statistics.

The Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza crew provided us with an update on the project with new renderings and a video fly-through of the space allowing us to "see and feel" what was in mind for the site. Members got very excited when Ray Connolly spoke about their efforts to create a world-class memorial to Harvey Milk and give tribute to his impact on so many people across generations and continents. Mr. Connolly has joined in the fundraising efforts about to launch.

A special thanks to our very own Supervisor Rafael Mandelman for making time to join us. Rafael is making good progress with his own comprehensive study and taking steps to unravel the puzzle behind the increase in the extreme conditions we're experiencing on our streets in the Castro. Since his election in June, he's brought together the people involved, spearheaded key legislation, and working closely with police and service providers to get solutions in place (both temporary and long term). Be sure to follow him here on his FB feed..

We had a great turnout  with over 65 people in attendance. For the past several  meetings, more Eureka Valley residents are showing up and taking part. It's been really fun to see so many members and so many new faces in the seats. I did have some good feedback from a long-standing member who felt that the Q&A time (which I kept to 4 minutes after each speaker), was too short and he didn't get to ask his questions- As a result, I think it best to slim down the agenda (it's been pretty packed), allowing more time for attendees to interact, take questions and make comments. Appreciate the advice!

Please mark your calendars for the next Board of Directors meetings: October 9 and then November 13th, 2018 at 7:00pm in the community room at the Chance Bank on Sanchez/15th and Market Streets. You're welcome to attend, observe, and make comments.

Candidates wishing to stand for election to the Board must have their names submitted by October 31st. You must have a paid EVNA membership, live within the boundaries laid out in the newly adopted Bylaws (under the "About" tab), and be confirmed by the Board before elections at our General Meeting on 11/28. Email me with your questions. Open positions include: Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, and up to 5 Board Members at Large.

Our next General Meeting meeting is Nov 28th, 2018 in the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy cafeteria from 7-8:30 (doors open at 6:40ish). We'll have EVNA elections at this meeting, and then focused our attention on our theme: "Good Neighbor."  We'll take a well deserved look at those among us who volunteer for service and give of themselves and their resources to make our neighborhood closer and more caring. There's a LONG list to consider!

See you around the neighborhood!




President’s Update…

Hello EVNA'ers!

Was that last meeting was a DISASTER, or what?? Yup, just like we planned- it all came off without a hitch.  Kudos to our board members for getting into the spirit and making the meeting fun and a great success.  Those hardhats and emergency vests were a nice touch. Not only did we have an outstanding attendance (52 souls), considering we changed the date AND the location on everyone for this one meeting, but the speakers all showed up and made really engaging presentations, all having to do with disaster preparedness. Especially informative were Zoe and Ellen's from Civic Edge team telling us about the differing plans to retrofit the seawall along the Embarcadero, and Sean Gallardo, our Eureka Valley NERT representative, breaking the attendees into small groups and coming up with supply lists suitable for home evacuations, go-bags, first aid kits, and earthquake drills. The drawing at the end of the meeting was a lot of fun and a real hit- congrats to the winners, Luke, Terry and Chris for having the lucky tickets!

The board also made good progress on our membership drive- in June, after an audit showing a high number of expired memberships, we set a goal to get people renewed and non-members signed up for the fist time. While the numbers will be revealed in the Treasurer's Report this coming week, it looks like we increased the roll by a dozen dues paying members! Many thanks to those who signed up and renewed, it's a pleasure to have you on board!

This month, we will continue to focus on membership drives, as we begin to discuss two important issues: volunteer opportunities this fall, and a call for candidates to run in the next election at November's meeting. Stay tuned for details to come!

See you at the next General Meeting, when we'll be back at Harvey Milk Academy in the Cafeteria:

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

7:00pm to 8:30 pm (come early, stay late)

Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy (19th at Collingwood)