Andrea Aiello speaks to meeting participants about Chris Larsen´s $695,000 donation.

The Castro Upper Market Community Benefit District, a collective of residents and business owners, held a meeting Tuesday night to gather input on a proposed camera program. 

If enacted, the program would install dozens of cameras throughout the Castro using a $695,000 donation from Silicon Valley entrepreneur Chris Larsen. 

Though the meeting’s panel was composed entirely of proponents for the program, most participants who called or wrote into the Zoom meeting expressed concerns that the system could possibly be abused, and questioned Larsen and the benefit district’s motives for the program. 

“He’s just a philanthropist,” said Andrea Aiello, the benefit district’s executive director and sole employee, to explain Larsen’s intent. 

Footage would only be held for 30 days, would only be handed over to police in instances of a reported crime, and live viewing would be allowed, Aiello said. 

A representative of the Castro LGBTQ Cultural Advisory Board was initially going to speak on the panel in opposition to the cameras, but they backed out, according to Aiello. 

Stephen Torres, the secretary of the cultural advisory board, wrote in the meeting chat that his organization only backed out of the event after “our requests to include others on this panel and not be the only voice of opposition were denied.” 

Aiello said she will hold closed meetings with multiple community groups to gather more input, and the decision on whether to implement the program may be decided at the June 10 meeting of the benefit district’s board of directors. 

Silver Sprocket spot for sale

An 8,630 square foot mixed-use building on the corner of Valencia and Hill streets recently went up for sale for $3.25 million, according to Compass Commercial. 

The building is being sold by the relatives of Thomas Harvey, a realtor who owned and worked in the building before he died in August, 2020. 

Harvey occupied the corner commercial space, where he ran his real estate business. He first began working there as a teenager for his father, Thomas Harvey, Sr., according to an obituary of Harvey

The building holds seven residential units and one other commercial space, previously occupied by 1-2-3-4 Go! Records until it moved out during the pandemic. The current operator of the space, Silver Sprocket, is moving out in anticipation of the sale. 

The comic store will soon be a few doors down at 1018 Valencia St. 

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Juan Carlos Lara covers business and development in the Mission. Juan Carlos, a San Francisco State alum, is as much a photographer as he is a writer and previously worked as the campus news editor at Golden Gate Xpress, SF State’s student paper.

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  1. Privately-funded surveillance cameras being donated to a City-funded group of “benefit district” volunteer busy -bodies with no City regulation or oversight! What could possibly go wrong?

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  2. Juan Carlos:
    You need to give a more accurate
    definition of a Community Benefit
    District! To call it a collective
    makes it sound so benign. The

    residents and business owners
    agreed on an assessment in addition to their regular taxes.
    Andrea Aiello gets a good salary.
    Administrators of other CBDs
    spoke in favor at the meeting.
    As you reported some opponents
    opted out because they felt
    representation was not broad

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  3. I don’t find this creepy in the least. Crime is rampant in our neighborhood currently, this would make me feel safer and more connected to our community. This is done routinely all over Europe and their crime rates are much lower. Added benefit if it helps capture perpetrators of crime in our neighborhood, certainly it will add a deterrent for some criminals and make businesses and residents feel safer. Yes, get these cameras up in our neighborhood.

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  4. SMILE YOU ARE ON CAMERA – by State Agency Cameras! I have questions. What is cryptocurrency? Why wasn’t the Duboce Triangle neighborhood not MENTIONED EVEN ONCE in the 2 hour Town Hall last night? These private-public cameras will line our BORDER on MARKET STREET. Why does LARSEN want to DONATE $750K to US for OUR safety? Why not donate to homeless services or affordable housing efforts? Can’t neighbors help each other with our own private camera networks? Why wasn’t the District Supervisor present? Why wasn’t LARSEN present? Or the SFPD or the local DA? Money is on the line here – so is our personal freedom and right to privacy.

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  5. These cultural district operations are going to be a whole new level of patronage at work.

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