Friday, March 3, 2017

SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin Speaks to BOMA San Francisco Government Affairs Committee Members




BOMA's Government Affairs Policy Advisory Committee (GAPAC) recently welcomed back Ed Reiskin, Director of Transportation for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA).

The SFMTA is the City’s mobility manager and operates the entire surface transportation network that encompasses pedestrians, bicycling, transit, traffic and parking and regulates the taxi industry.  As such, Mr. Reiskin provided a great deal of information in a short time frame.  Here are the highlights from his presentation:

  • Department Update
    • Funding
      • SFMTA, like many transportation agencies in the Bay Area and California incorporate state level funding into their budgets. There is a need for business organizations, like BOMA, to support state funding of transportation agencies and their projects.
    • Muni 
      • Approval rating is trending up (good!) to 70%
    • Projects in San Francisco
      • 220 transit projects - $3.5 billion - currently in San Francisco.
  • Agency Objectives
    • FY 2013-2018 Strategic Plan
      • Under the FY 2013-2018 SFMTA Strategic Plan, the SFMTA committed to a mode share goal of 50 percent auto and 50 percent non-auto (transit, bicycling, walking and taxi) for all trips by 2018. Meeting this mode shift goal will put the SFMTA and the city as a whole on track to meet the transportation needs of future residents, employees and visitors.
      • By 2035, San Francisco is projected to have an approximate 15 percent growth in population and a 25 percent growth in employment. This growth requires us to re-think our resources and tools to meet the city’s quality of life objectives. SFMTA can leverage its multi modality to facilitate big picture planning, design, construction, operations and overall funding management to implement complete streets projects that make non-auto modes more attractive to all residents, workers and visitors to San Francisco.
    • Four Goals
      • Create a safer transportation experience for everyone.
      • Make transit, walking, bicycling, taxi, ridesharing and carsharing the preferred means of travel.
      • Improve the environment and quality of life in San Francisco.
      • Create a workplace that delivers outstanding service.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

UPDATE: All-Gender/Single User Toilet Facilities - March 2017 Deadline



UPDATE - February 28, 2017

You may already be aware of the San Francisco law requiring updated signage in single use toilet facilities. There is also a statewide signage requirement, AB 1732, that passed last year and we've received a few questions about it. 

BOMA California, of which BOMA San Francisco members participate, was neutral on AB 1732. BOMA San Francisco members worked on a similar, if not exact, ordinance in San Francisco that mandated signage updates. Our members locally didn’t see it as too costly of a issue - more of an amenity for those restrooms that meet the signage requirements as detailed in the local law (see below).

Signs cost around $20 on average but it depends where you purchase them.

A few key things from the state law:
  • The state law affects bathrooms that are single occupancy only. 
  • From the law: This bill would, commencing March 1, 2017, require all single-user toilet facilities in any business establishment, place of public accommodation, or government agency to be identified as all-gender toilet facilities, as specified. The bill would authorize inspectors, building officials, or other local officials responsible for code enforcement to inspect for compliance with these provisions during any inspection.
    • In San Francisco, the San Francisco Department of Inspection would most likely check for compliance during routine building inspections.
Bottom line: If any of your building’s bathrooms meet the requirements in the law, you’ll need to update the signage. Tenants will have to do this for their restrooms as well.

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UPDATE - August 31, 2016

This law passed recently and it applies to single-user toilet facilities in business establishments and places of public accommodation in San Francisco.

A few key things to know:
  • The measure requires that all single-user toilet facilities that are open to the public, and/or to the employees of the establishment, shall be identified as all-gender facilities and shall be made available to persons of any gender identity. 
  • Single-user toilet facility means a private toilet facility with a single toilet, or with a single toilet and a urinal and designed for use by no more than one occupant at a time, or for family or assisted use. 
  • Multiple-user toilet facilities may be identified as all-gender facilities, but are not required to be identified as all-gender.
  • Signage identifying single-user toilet facilities as all-gender must comply with either Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations or the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Businesses and places of public accommodation were supposed to be in compliance with this ordinance by August 20th, 2016.
  • The San Francisco Department of Building Inspection will be checking for compliance with during regular building inspections.
If you have any questions please email johnb@boma.com.
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Original Post - January 16, 2016

Supervisor David Campos has requested BOMA San Francisco and business community feedback regarding a proposal to expand the number of all gender (unisex) single occupancy restrooms in San Francisco. This is at trend taking place nationwide in order to increase bathroom accessibility for all. Indeed, similar ordinances have already been passed in municipalities across the United States.

Summary

This legislation would mandate that businesses and places of public accommodation (click here and scroll to #7) designate via signage single-user toilet facilities that are available to the public or employees.

Some BOMA members would be required to update their signage if they have places of public accommodation that only have single user toilet facilities.

Click here to review the legislation and email johnb@boma.com with your comments.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

San Francisco's Baby Diaper-Changing Accommodation Requirement




BOMA San Francisco's Government Affairs Policy Analysis Committee (GAPAC) members have reviewed and submitted suggested amendments regarding a proposal in San Francisco requiring Baby Diaper-Changing stations in bathrooms. The ordinance was introduced by Supervisor Katy Tang and, if passed, would make diaper-changing facilities available to mothers and fathers in their
restrooms.

We appreciate that Supervisor Tang included our recommended amendment that will protect a building owner's respective contract agreement with their tenants. BOMA members were also successful in extending the time frame for compliance from six months to twelve months if the ordinance is enacted.

The legislation has been moving through the San Francisco City Hall legislative process with unanimous support from various policy committees. It is now at the Board of Supervisors for their consideration. We expect this measure to pass unanimously there as well.

Please review the information below to ensure you know what this proposal means for BOMA San Francisco building members and your tenants. Also, for compliance, please be sure to have your legal team review the measure.

What are the requirements of this ordinance?
  • All business establishments and those entities that have public accommodations that maintain a Baby Diaper-Changing Accommodation (BDCA) in a restroom available for use by women will be required to install and maintain a Baby Diaper-Changing Accommodation in a restroom available for use by men OR available for use by ALL genders.
    • For example, if a women's bathroom in a tenant's space has a BDCA, a BDCA in the men's restroom would need to be installed or a BDCA would need to be made available in a restroom that can be used by any gender.
      • The requirement would also apply to BOMA members who have restrooms available to the public.
What is the definition of Public Accommodation?
  • It has the same meaning as in Title III of the American's with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. Section 12181(7) and federal regulation adopted thereunder, as either are amended from time to time.
What is the definition of a BDCA?
  • With regard to this proposal, a BDCA is a safe, sanitary, and convenient baby diaper-changing station, or similar amenity. This may include, but are not limited to, work surfaces, stations, decks, and tables in women's and men's restrooms or all-gender restrooms.
What if installing a BDCA is infeasible due to spatial or structural limitations?
  • The San Francisco Department of Building Inspection can inspect and waive compliance if the Department determines that tenant or BOMA member cannot install a BDCA.
What is the time frame to comply with the ordinance? 
  • Thanks to BOMA's advocacy efforts, it is now twelve months - increased from six months - if the law is enacted.
With regard to compliance, what about a building owners lease contract with their respective tenants? 
  • BOMA members advocated for a clause to be included in the ordinance that the new law, if enacted, protects a building owner's respective contract agreement with their tenants. 
What about new business and public accommodations?
  • If they choose to install and maintain a BDCA in a restroom available for use by women, they will also be required to do so in a restroom available by men or all genders immediately upon opening to the public.
What about new buildings or substantially renovated public service establishments?

  • At least one BDCA that is open and available for use by women and one that is open and available for use by men, or a single BDCA that is open and available by all genders shall be installed and maintained.
    • However, they will need to made available at each floor level containing a toilet room available for use by the public.
    • Exceptions
      • If a San Francisco Building official determines that a BDCA cannot be installed and comply with City, State, and Federal laws regarding access to persons with disabilities.
      • If a San Francisco Building official determines that the installation is infeasible due to spatial or structural limitations.
  • What is the definition of substantially renovated?
    • It's limited to renovation of a toilet room and means that any addition, alteration, or repair project to the toilet rooms, performed under a building permit, with the cost of construction of $50,000 or more for the renovation of one or more toilet rooms.
  • Are there signage requirements for new buildings/substantially renovated public service establishments?
    • Signage at or near its entrance stating "Baby Diaper-Changing Accommodation Inside" is required.
    • In a building encompassing multiple establishments and having a central directory, the location of all such accommodations will need to be indicated on the directory.
We'll keep you updated on the progress of this ordinance as it winds it's way through the final portion of the legislative process. Please email johnb@boma.com with any questions that you have and thank your fellow BOMA members for helping to advocate for the industry!


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

UPDATE: San Francisco Business Tax Updates February 2017 - Resources for Small Businesses



The tax filing deadline is February 28th. All taxpayers should have received their filing notices by now. Please let me know if you have any feedback. Below are some news updates that may be of interest.

Tax Seminar at the Main Library Wednesday February 15, 3:00 p.m.


Once again, the Treasurer's office will host a free tax seminar at the San Francisco Public Library Main Branch Koret Auditorium. The event will be Wednesday, February 15 at 3:00 p.m. They will demonstrate some examples of tax filings and take general questions about the annual return filing process. This event is designed for use by small businesses that do not use tax preparers. More information is available here

2016 Annual Return Videos Posted


With regard to the Treasurer's office ongoing efforts to make tax reporting accessible to all San Franciscans, they have produced videos on how to file an Annual Return under various circumstances. You may view them here.

Legislative Update

File 161264, which proposes to modify the quarterly filing and payment requirements for payroll expense taxes and gross receipts taxes, clarify the requirements for requesting an extension, and expressly permit taxpayers to apply refunds of the business registration fee, the payroll expense tax, and the gross receipts tax to subsequent tax periods, has passed the Board of Supervisors and is to the Mayor’s desk.

File 161225, which proposes to remove the $100 minimum penalty from one of the penalties for failing to register with the Tax Collector; and to remove the fee and administrative requirements for obtaining a duplicate registration certificate.

Both of these proposed ordinances were guided by feedback from the business community about simplifying quarterly installment payments, applying refunds to subsequent tax periods, and reducing penalties and fees on small businesses, passed unanimously on first reading on January 31. It will come back for a second reading on February 7.

Small Business Enterprise Thresholds Increase

The San Francisco Treasurer's office has announced increased small business enterprise thresholds for tax year 2016 and retroactively increased thresholds for 2015. Taxpayers affected by the 2015 retroactive increase have been contacted directly. You can find more information as well as the 2016 tax rates here.

Combined Groups of Related Entities – 2016 Annual Return Functionality Enhancements

If you or the taxpayer you are filing for is filing on behalf of a combined group of related entities, or was part of a combined group for a portion of the tax year, the San Francisco Treasurer's office has added online functionality so most combined groups do not have to file by mail and can more easily report your group members. Combined groups of related entities will need to report their group members in the annual return (rather than through Account Update), including the dates the entities were part of the group, and the extent they are unitary with the group. Tax preparers should have this information ready when filing to facilitate their filing process. For information about what constitutes a combined group of related entities, please see the instructions for the 2016 return here.

How to Access the 2016 Annual Return


The 2016 Tax Year Annual Return is accessbile at http://sftreasurer.org/2016GRPY.

To enter the Online Return you will need:

1. Seven digit Business Account Number
2. Last four digits of your business tax identification number (Federal EIN or SSN)
3. Eight digit alphanumeric Online PIN (same as prior year)

The The San Francisco Treasurer's office sent out filing notices in mid-January that included the Business Account Number, Online PIN, and other information to assist taxpayers with filing their Return, including all quarterly installment payments received by the office. 

San Francisco City Performance Financial Scorecards - How Well is the City Managing Your Tax Dollars?



Did you know that the City and County of San Francisco issues scorecards that measure the financial performance of the municipality?



This data is important as BOMA San Francisco members contribute millions of dollars annually to The City in the form of transfer taxes, property taxes, and fees, to name a few. It's important to know how our elected leaders are using the funds from BOMA membersthe greater business community and residents to ensure they are utilizing the funds efficaciously.

If this information intrigues you, please consider joining BOMA San Francisco's Government Affairs Committee by contacting the Chair, Marty Smith, President and Owner of Alhouse Deaton, at msmith@alhousedeaton.com.


BOMA San Francisco Government Affairs Committee Members Meet with California Assemblymember David Chiu





BOMA San Francisco Government Affairs Policy Advisory Committee (GAPAC), met with California State Assemblymember David Chiu recently. Mr. Chiu represents San Francisco and BOMA has worked with the Assemblymember for many years on various issues affecting the commercial real estate industry in San Francisco.

It was a pleasure to welcome Assemblymember Chiu to speak with a select group of BOMA San Francisco advocacy and business leaders to get an early look at many issues including:
  • California politics in 2017 – what can BOMA San Francisco and BOMA California members (and the business community) expect?
    • The California State Legislature has a supermajority (two thirds) of members from the Democratic Party in both the State Senate and Assembly. 
      • This could mean that many proposals important to the party may become law although Governor Jerry Brown has the final review of all measures. He is known to be thoughtful about his decisions to enact a law with a pragmatic and future focused approach to public policy.
    • There will be a major focus on housing in the Legislature by Mr. Chiu and his colleagues. Stay tuned.
    • Transportation improvements are also a priority.
    • Homelessness and street behavior in the major cities are issues and should be addressed.
  • The California State Legislature’s possible public policy outcomes vis-à-vis a Trump Administration and how will that affect and San Francisco?
    • As BOMA members are already aware, predicting what President Trump will do that could have a fiscal and/or social impact to San Francisco and California is not easy.
      • Many important San Francisco and California issues that he has targeted such as  Obamacare, immigration, trade, and the environment have a significant impact to society and the bottom line of the State and The City and County of San Francisco 
  • Chiu’s thoughts on Proposition 13 and its future.
    • A number one priority for our members is the predictability that Proposition 13 provides for all property owners - both commercial and residential. BOMA California will monitor any potential changes that come, either through the initiative or legislative process, that may affect this important tax protection that California voters approved many years ago. 
      • Mr. Chiu did not have information about Proposition 13 at this time.
  • The Assemblymember's thoughts on the state’s budget prognosis – with a projected $2 billion dollar shortfall in 2017/2018 – given a predicted turn in the economy around 2019 (depending on who you ask, of course).
    • At the Federal level, if an action is impactful to California and San Francisco budgets - note that San Francisco receives 1 billion dollars from the State in direct and indirect methods - then it is possible that revenue measures may be necessary and every option might be on the table.

The bottom line is that there are many unknowns and it is difficult to answer these questions right now. Even so, BOMA San Francisco members felt that this meeting was very productive and will monitor proposals at every level of government to ensure that BOMA members interests are met. 

BOMA thanks Assemblymember Chiu for talking with us and for his dedication to San Francisco in the California State Legislature. Our members look forward to meeting with him again a few more times in 2017 and 2018.

BOMA San Francisco Government Affairs Committee Members Meet with San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell





BOMA San Francisco Government Affairs Policy Advisory Committee (GAPAC), met with San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell recently. Mr. Farrell represents District 2 in San Francisco , which includes the Presidio, Marina, Cow Hollow, Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights, Anza Vista, Laurel Heights, Jordan Park, the Lake Street corridor, Sea Cliff and parts of Russian Hill.

For the first meeting of the year, BOMA San Francisco's Government Affairs Committee leaders wanted to hear from Mr. Farrell who has chaired the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee for the last four years.

BOMA members' activities contribute a lot of money to the City and County of San Francisco - via transfer taxes, property taxes, fees and jobs created. One aspect of paying into our local government is that the money is spent efficaciously for all who live and work in San Francisco. As such, his insight to how budget process works, and how the Board members and the Mayor's office might be looking at covering projected budget shortfalls, is very important to BOMA members and to their many small business tenants.

We also asked Mr. Farrell to speak about other issues of importance. Here is a synopsis of our conversation:

  • How will a Trump Administration affect City Hall public policy outcomes? 
    • The budget could be substantially impacted quickly if the Federal Government does stop funding for state and/or local programs that have already expected those funds for the fiscal year budget.
  • What will the public priorities be for the Board of Supervisors in 2017
    • Housing - especially affordable housing
    • Essential immigrant services 
    • Transportation 
    • Homelessness
    • Public Safety
BOMA thanks Mr. Farrell for his time and we look forward to working with him in the new year,

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

BOMA International Advocacy Update: Lawmakers Return to Capitol Hill, ADA Drive By Lawsuits and New OSHA Regulations


115th Congress

The 115th U.S. Congress officially commenced on Tuesday, January 3, as both chambers swore in the newly elected lawmakers and kicked-off official business. Before the Republican-controlled Congress could begin tackling their ambitious agenda for the next two years, the House of Representatives once again voted in Paul Ryan as the Speaker of the House. Speaker Ryan, who now begins his first full, two-year term, received almost unanimous support from his party. Nancy Pelosi once again will serve as minority leader, a position that she has held since 2011.

Mitch McConnell continues his role as Senate majority leader, but Senator Chuck Schumer takes the place of retired Senator Harry Reid as leader of the Senate Democrats. Over the next few weeks, the Senate is scheduled to hold a series of votes to pass a budget and begin hearings to fulfill their duty to confirm the president’s cabinet appointments.

BOMA International’s advocacy team met with BOMA member leaders and staff from around the country this past weekend at the BOMA International Winter Business Meeting and have been hard at work collaborating with the new Congress on commercial real estate's priority issues for 2017.

Stay tuned for a future post on what was discussed at the Winter Business Meeting.


60 Minutes Features Story on Drive-By ADA Lawsuits

Earlier this month, 60 Minutes featured a segment detailing the growing trend of lawsuits filed against businesses around the U.S. relating to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Host Anderson Cooper demonstrated how attorneys file lawsuits after simply driving by a business or looking at satellite imagery of a building to spot highly technical accessibility issues. This segment brought much-needed attention to the issue, which BOMA International has been working hard to remedy with the help of lawmakers.

BOMA’s advocacy team currently is working in support of federal legislation that protects commercial buildings from this harmful practice through the introduction of a “notice and cure” period that allows building owners 120 days to correct identified ADA violations before the commencement of litigation. This provision upholds the intent of the ADA, which is to foster an accessible environment for individuals with disabilities. BOMA members looking for additional information about this issue can reach out to BOMA International’s Manager of Advocacy Dylan Isenberg at disenberg@boma.org.


OSHA Publishes New Safety Regulations

On November 17, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) published new regulations on Walking-Working Surfaces and Fall Protection Safety. These regulations are intended to increase worker safety and limit the number of accidents associated with the use of stairs, ladders and other elevated work surfaces. Starting January 1, 2017, rope-descending systems can only be used in buildings less than 300 feet in height. The regulations also require building owners to have all existing roof anchor systems used as tie-off points for rope-descending systems inspected and certified by November 17, 2017, and a copy of the certification will need to be provided to any contractor using the roof anchor system.

BOMA encourages all building owners and managers to read OSHA’s fact sheet to understand how the rules will affect their workplaces and properties. Property professionals should verify that contractors who inspect and certify anchorage points meet the necessary qualifications. If you have any questions or need more assistance, please contact BOMA International’s Director of Codes & Standards Steve Orlowski at sorlowski@boma.org.

UPDATE: San Francisco Legislation Requiring Choice in Internet/Communication Providers for Tenants of Commercial and Residential Properties


UPDATE - January 31, 2017

Supervisor Mark Farrell's legislation allowing tenants the choice of internet/communication providers was signed in late December 2016 by Mayor Ed Lee, and is now in effect as of January 22, 2017.

Please take a moment to review this legislation with your team to ensure that you are in compliance with the new law. This measure was the effort of many in the business community but major changes that were beneficial to the tenant and, more importantly, the BOMA building owner, were due to the efforts of our immediate-past chair of the BOMA San Francisco Government Affairs Committee Chair, Manuel Fishman.

The law codifies a process that BOMA members have already been carrying out: allowing their small-business tenants to choose their internet provider that comply with physical constraints of the building and that tenant's lease. Thankfully, thanks to BOMA's efforts, that is still the case but your property management team may have to work closely with the tenant and communications provider to ensure that both the BOMA building owner and tenant's interests are respected.

Questions? Concerns? Please feel free to reach out to johnb@boma.com.

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Original Post - December 1, 2016

You may have read about a proposal from Supervisor Mark Farrell that would allow internet access from any communications service provider for any tenant that asks for it – in both commercial and residential buildings. Thanks to the quick work and expertise of Manuel Fishman and Marty Smith, your Government Affairs Committee Chair and Vice Chair, the measure - while not addressing all of the industry's issues - is still workable for BOMA San Francisco members.

Your feedback is requested no later than December 5, 2016. 

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will vote on the measure on December 6, 2016.


It has been moving quickly through the legislative process at San Francisco's City Hall and BOMA members thank our San Francisco business community partners for their input. We also thank Supervisor Farrell for allowing our members the opportunity to suggest practical changes to the legislation that allows the tenant to choose their internet/communications service provider AND protects the commercial property owners ability to feasibly accommodate the request.

In fact, our BOMA members already do this. The commercial real estate industry is a tenant driven business and the relationship between a building owner/manager and their tenants is paramount.

Commercial building owners understand that tenants should have the ability to ask for communications access and, like most agreements between a building owner and a tenant, they are considered unless the building owner’s property cannot safely and efficiently accommodate the request. In other words, one of the major considerations by the building owner is if the request is feasible based on the real-world constraints of the built environment.

Please send your comments to johnb@boma.com and kenc@boma.com.

Monday, January 30, 2017

UPDATE: Folsom-Howard Streetscape Project



UPDATE - January 29, 2017

Thanks to those BOMA members who attended to the first open house series - information below- for the Folsom-Howard Streetscape Project.

If you have not done so, please take this survey and let the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) know what transportation amenities matter most to you on Folsom and Howard streets.

Next steps for the project will be for SFMTA staff to technically analyze potential roadway configurations and compile public feedback received. Technical analysis of possible designs will enable the SFMTA to better understand the trade-offs of different design options. Combining the technical analysis with public feedback received will provide staff with several project alternatives to share with the public at the next project open house in Spring 2017.

In the meantime, staff will be working to implement parking-protected bike lanes on Folsom and Howard and design upgraded bike facilities on 11th Street and on Folsom Street between 11th and 13th streets.

Please also note that the Central SoMa Plan Draft EIR, which is the environmental approval document for the Folsom-Howard Streetscape Project, was released on December 14, 2017 and will have a 60-day public comment period

As always, updated information can be found at www.sfmta.com/folsomhoward and you can keep up to date by signing up for email updates.

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Original Post - December 12, 2016

You may be aware that BOMA San Francisco members in the South of Market area of San Francisco  have provided input on the possible changes as part of the Folsom-Howard Streetscape Project.

The Folsom-Howard Streetscape Project is an effort to prepare for continued growth in the South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood.

The SFMTA feels that demand on SoMa’s streets is increasing and will only continue to rise. The City estimates a 212% increase in SoMa residents and a 140% increase in SoMa workers by the year 2040. As such, there is a need to prepare thoughtfully for the coming growth that will place more demand on the neighborhood’s transportation network.

This project will focus on updating and upgrading the Folsom-Howard couplet. It will prioritize traffic safety, community livability and enhancing the neighborhood’s existing character. The initiative will also improve transit access and examine traffic circulation modifications. It will include bicycle, transit, pedestrian, curbside management, and traffic improvements on Folsom and Howard streets while addressing safety needs and future transportation demand in the growing South of Market Neighborhood.

The SFMTA are in the early planning stages and will be hosting two open houses so that BOMA members and other stakeholders can provide their comments. These events are an opportunity for the public to learn about the project goals and possible improvements, as well as provide ideas and feedback on the future of Folsom and Howard streets.

Two open house events will accommodate those with scheduling conflicts. Both open houses will be similar, hosting the same materials, information and opportunity to provide feedback.

For more information, please feel free to email the project manager, Paul Stanis, at paul.stanis@sfmta.com.


Thursday, December 8, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM

SoMa Recreation Center (Gene Friend Recreation Center)

270 6th St (between Howard and Folsom)



Saturday, December 10, 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM

SoMa Recreation Center (Gene Friend Recreation Center)

270 6th St (between Howard and Folsom)

Apture