Benefit Dampens House Fire Loss for Christina Olague

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En Español.

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With a salsa band playing in the back patio and a packed, gyrating dance floor, El Rio’s Salsa Sunday party proved an opportunity for a community of activists, politicians, and friends to come together to help one of their own: former Mission community activist and District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague.

When a fire tore through her Baker Street apartment on Christmas Eve, Olague’s home was destroyed and she lost her longtime friend and housemate Randy Sapp, co-owner of the Cole Valley magic shop The Sword and Rose. All her possessions were burned in the fire, and without renter’s insurance, Olague had little resources to rebuild her life. But Sunday’s event brought in $1600 to help Olague recover in addition to an ongoing crowdfunding campaign that has collected more than $11,200.

“It’s pretty overwhelming,” Olague said at Sunday’s event. “There’s so many people here from all these different communities — there’s the Latino, queer, housing activists and my spiritual community here. To see this outpouring from so many different people, it’s really healing, actually.”

Prior to becoming supervisor, Olague served as president of the Planning Commission, and was a longtime housing-rights advocate before that. She’s now president of the Latino Democratic Club and works at the Mission nonprofit Arriba Juntos. With more than 100 people flowing into El Rio’s patio throughout the course of the afternoon, her wealth of connections were apparent.

“Those of us who have worked alongside Christina know that she has dedicated her life to one of the most important things there is in this city: affordable housing,” said Supervisor David Campos, Olague’s former colleague, to the applauding crowd. “It’s especially tragic to lose a home in the middle of a housing crisis… We need to make sure we take care of this woman who has done so much for this community.”

“It was a wonderful year serving with Christina, it was also a horrible year,” said supervisor Jane Kim in reference to various other political battles. “But [Christina] was always there to step up, no matter what.”

When he first heard the news of the fire, Gabriel Halaand, a union organizer and longtime friend of Olague, initially organized the online fundraising effort on the crowdfunding site Wepay. Proceeds from El Rio’s bimonthly Salsa Sundays often go towards a charitable causes, and this particular Sunday came together from organizing by Tom Temprano, activist and promoter of the popular party Hard French, and with full support and donated proceeds from the bar’s owner Dawn Huston, as well as co-sponsors on the board of Supervisors (including Breed, Olague’s former political opponent) and political leaders like Senator Tom Ammiano.

“A lot of people if they lost an election would just disappear,” Haaland said. “Christina didn’t disappear. She’s continued to show up — at rallies, at community events. I got to say that that takes a lot of guts…It’s important to keep someone of her quality and depth of social commitment in San Francisco.”

Olague told the crowd that her landlord has promised that she can return to her former house once it is restored, but is currently looking for a two-bedroom apartment to share with her sister. Though she admitted to being somewhat uncomfortable with all the attention the night brought her, she expressed extreme gratitude to the gathered crowd.

When the speeches were done, attention did shift away from Olague and onto the dance floor. Couples young and old, gay and straight, showed their support for the cause with some seriously impressive salsa moves.

16 Comments

  1. Frank

    The former President of the Planning Commission didn’t carry insurance?

  2. John

    Supervisors get paid a lot, don’t they? Why didn’t she save up a rainy day fund?

  3. EthicsCommission

    Is this legal? Seems like a bribe-a-thon.

    • poor.ass.millionaire

      This is business as usual in SF.

      Campos just used his office to gain preferential treatment for “the tamale lady.” Had one of his aids run around with her for 6 months to get her a cheap commercial lease. It’s a cheap way to exploit the volatility of the changing mission district.

  4. poor.ass.millionaire

    Renters insurance is only couple hundies a year. They get paid enough to afford that. If she owned her place, she would have been covered; but it sounds like rent control was too convenient to pass up. I think RC does a lot of damage to long term renters. They assume it’s like owning your own home. Sorry, it’s not.

    • John

      Yes, Olague clearly made no effort to insure herself or make any provision for contingencies and emergencies.

      And she gets bailed out because she is an activist? There must be thousands of more worthy recipients of largesse in this town.

      Rewarding stupidity and carelessness isn’t a sound strategy.

  5. IgnorantOut

    Not happy with this story or how San Francisco works as a community, LEAVE. We don’t need you or want you here.

  6. neighbor

    Wow. What’s with all the blaming the victim? And also all this deciding who to help in a time of need strange. . . But for the record supervisors make about the average income in SF and Planning Commissioners get paid about the same as a juror for their service. . so yeah. . all this mud slinging is ill informed and hateful.

    I’m glad the community rallied to help her.

    • Kaliman

      Thank you neighbor.
      Don’t understand why these sour individuals can criticize any help to a fire victim. A lot of pent up anger towards Olague.

      Shame on you haters!

      • John

        The point wasn’t that people don’t sometimes need help but rather that there are surely more deserving cases than a politician who made decent money for a while but evidently frittered it away rather than saving and investing for her future.

        Why her? Why not any one of hundreds of other people who have suffered from mishaps but aren’t ideologs?

        • missionnite

          Your a sad case. Why do you think all the protest are about. To help people in need. You think everyone should be perfect. We all have different circumstances in life. You know nothing of this individual or life. All you do is make to many broad statements and hate on people. Are you angry that know one has helped you or supported you sometime in you life. I’m sure if their is a “more deserving case” You will make a case against it.

          • John

            What protest? I’m just asking what is special about this one victim and why she is being singled out for help over all the others.

          • marcos

            Christina is our friend, a concept which must be alien to “John.”

  7. Ian griffith

    Wow, a lot of nasty comments on here from people that know nothing about the situation!!
    Christina, Patrick and Randy are all dear friends of mine. A tragedy has happened and we all lost a dear friend. Who are you people
    To comment on something you know nothing about?

    • poor.ass.millionaire

      My comments were relevant, related to rent control and its adverse effects. It’s something I know plenty about.

  8. joyce

    I applaud the community who rallied around and supported Christina. How unfortunate that several small minded individuals chose to use this format to express their ignorant and highly insensitive opinions and comments. Pathetic. I hope this level of insensitivity does not cause more heart ache for Christina. She lost a dear friend in this tragedy. Renters insurance only covers property not people.

Comments are closed.