San Francisco supervisors vote against landmarking Castro Theatre seats

J.R. Stone Image
Wednesday, June 7, 2023
SF supervisors vote against landmarking Castro Theatre seats
San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 6-4 to put a landmark designation on interior parts of Castro Theatre, but not the orchestra-level seats.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The battle over the future look of the Castro Theatre is heating up. On Tuesday, San Francisco supervisors opted to not put a landmark status on the orchestra seats inside which is what the management group was looking for. Last year, hundreds rallied in the Castro to try and save those seats.

Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 6-4 to put a landmark designation on interior parts of the theatre, but not the seats.

"I was disappointed I think there was a missed opportunity here. It's about keeping it formatted as a theatre because that's what it's functioned as," said Stephen Torres, executive co-chair of the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District.

MORE: SF's historic Castro Theatre to be transformed into live music venue

Not landmarking the existing traditional seats could pave the way for the management group, Another Planet Entertainment, to tear the seats out and replace them.

The group wants to use a tiered system that allows for removable seats. Both standing and seated events could then be held, something that management says is key going forward. San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman represents the Castro District and agrees with that.

"What is clear is that it has gone for decades without important investments in the physical infrastructure of the facility, and that it needs millions of dollars of investment to restore the building, so Another Planet has a plan to do that work," said Mandelman.

But at last year's town hall meeting at the theatre, hundreds opposed tearing out the seats. Even on Tuesday, those in the neighborhood say there has to be a compromise here.

RELATED: Hundreds show up in protest of SF's historic Castro Theatre renovation plan

A management group is planning to renovate the Castro Theatre which involves removing lower level seats allowing for standing and sitting.

"Perhaps, in my opinion maybe there's a way to have the seats but also have them removable so that we can preserve the historic nature of the seats in the Castro Theatre," said Alan Yue.

This issue though is far from a done deal - the historic preservation commission is set to meet on this topic with the planning commission come Thursday.

"The raked floor is part of that landmarking so that is one of those components that needs to be upkept," said Torres.

"Whatever happens there could be appealed again to the Board of Supervisors and given people's passions about this, I wouldn't be surprised if this ends up in court," said Supervisor Mandelman.

A statement was issued by David Perry, who represents Another Planet Entertainment: "Thank you San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Everyone who treasures the Castro Theatre, the Castro neighborhood, and the film and LGBTQ programming that is so much a part of both should be grateful tonight. An irreplaceable international icon now has the ability to be preserved, restored and to evolve for this and future generations."

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live