District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman has introduced an ordinance to the city’s Board of Supervisors, to clear up zoning issues and allow the reopening of traditional gay bathhouses and other adult businesses in designated areas of San Francisco.
His new ordinance will allow these “adult sex venues” to operate 24/7 in the Castro and on upper Market Street between Octavia Boulevard and Castro Street, and in key locations in SOMA and the Tenderloin. “Conditional use” permits would be possible in several other places. Supervisor Mandelman, who expects his ordinance will be approved, posted the following message on Facebook:
During the 1970s and early 80s bathhouses were a focal point of gay social life in San Francisco and were important community meeting places where friends would gather to share stories, or watch a live show. Sadly, these were mostly shut down by city and court orders during the height of the AIDS crisis, and in 2020 I authored legislation to roll back those outdated health orders. But, last year we learned that a number of queer entrepreneurs seeking to open a new generation of bathhouses were still blocked under current zoning rules.
Yesterday, I introduced an ordinance to clarify the zoning for adult sex venues and make sure they are allowed in historically LGBTQ neighborhoods like the Castro and SOMA. I hope this ordinance will complete the work we began in 2020 to overcome the lingering stigma of a painful chapter in the history of San Francisco’s queer community by once again welcoming these safe, LGBTQ-affirming spaces in our city, and paving the way for queer entrepreneurs to open them up and contribute to our post-pandemic economic recovery.