Joel Engardio

Joel Engardio
Alice Board, Programs Committee Member

By Joel Engardio
Alice Board, Programs Committee

Alice made some history last year by looking West — the Westside of San Francisco, that is. We’ve been around 40 years, but rarely gave much thought to what was on the other side of the curtain of fog that hangs above Twin Peaks and divides San Francisco into two very different cities.

The Eastside is what everyone knows and loves about San Francisco: the Castro’s gay Mecca, the Rice-a-Roni cable cars and the film noir setting of North Beach.

The Westside is like a suburb within the city limits, with detached single-family homes and yards. It’s also the most conservative part of San Francisco, where actual Republicans live (10 percent of the city’s voters). Nearly half the voters in some precincts on San Francisco’s Westside even voted to ban same-sex marriage as recently as 2008.

Yet a rapid demographic shift on the Westside – a largely elderly population dying off and many LGBT and Asian-American families moving into homes that had been occupied by one owner for 50 years – means the time is right for Alice to make its presence known West of Twin Peaks.

Westside neighborhoods like Miraloma Park and Midtown Terrace are quickly becoming “Castro West” with the number of gay and lesbian couples settling into two-bedroom homes with formal dining rooms that aren’t cheap but can be purchased for the cost of a smaller Eastside condo.

While the new Westside settlers tend to be moderate on fiscal matters since they are homeowners, they are much more socially liberal than their predecessors.

Last fall, Alice held a general membership meeting on the Westside for the first time. It was standing room only in the West Portal Playground Club house where state Sen. Mark Leno was our featured speaker.

I am an Alice Board member and Westside resident who shared his story during the 2012 campaign season as the first openly gay candidate to run for supervisor in District 7. A lesbian couple living in one of San Francisco most conservative precincts sent me a note saying “Thank you for running in the non-gay part of San Francisco – even though there are a lot of us out here.”

Alice wants to acknowledge and celebrate the LGBT residents living on San Francisco’s Westside. Now, Alice is everywhere.

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