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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

E-Campaign to 'Save' Medjool's Rooftop Bar Kicks Off -- But Is it Grassroots or Astroturf?

Posted By on Wed, Mar 18, 2009 at 7:20 AM

At Medjool, in a manner of speaking, the roof is on fire
  • At Medjool, in a manner of speaking, the roof is on fire
Invitations to join a Facebook page titled "SAVE MEDJOOL" are flooding San Franciscans' e-mail inboxes. The missive pleads for locals' help in persuading the big, bad Planning Department from pulling the permits for the Mission establishment's rooftop bar, which would ostensibly put the place under and force 60 hard-working souls into the breadlines.

And yet, while Medjool's position may truly be perilous, this might not be an organic swelling of city pride. Bar owner Gus Murad is a major donor to Gavin Newsom and other politicians and his rooftop bar is a favorite political watering hole and fund-raising site for candidates across the local spectrum. And the Facebook page's creator, Justin Roja, is an employee of Ground Floor Public Affairs, the strategy firm hatched by former Newsom right-hand man Alex Tourk. Ground Floor's existence, by the way, is not mentioned on the Facebook page. Yet While the "address" of "Save Medjool" is 2522 Mission -- that's Medjool -- the phone number listed is Ground Floor's.

Messages left for Roja have not yet been returned.

Murad and his bar Medjool were the beneficiaries of unwanted scrutiny

last month, when a typographical error in a planner's report permitted him to build the adjacent New Mission Theater condo project 20 feet

higher than neighborhood zoning allows. Newsom then vetoed the Board of Supervisors' attempt to undo the flawed ruling, essentially giving a huge potential monetary boon to his big-time donor Murad.

During the whole imbroglio, meanwhile, it was revealed that the swingin' rooftop bar at Medjool is considered illegal by the city of San Francisco.   

"This is just crazy to me," Planning Commission President Christina Olague told SF Weekly at the time. "Every

politician in town has been up on that roof deck. Dennis Herrera had

his fund-raisers up there, even Mark Sanchez, a progressive Green. And,

since 2004 [when the rooftop bar opened], it was illegal and no one

knew? No one held [Murad] accountable?"

While

other nitty-gritty remedies may be available to remedy Medjool's

problems -- and Murad's attorney, Andrew Junius, has always maintained

that all the bar's permitting is in order (but wouldn't show us the

permits) -- this Facebook page may be a stroke of genius.

As the anti-American Apparel parade of incensed hipsters proved in February,

there's no amount of law or logic you can't overcome in San Francisco

by having a few hundred people show up at a city meeting and yell at

the commissioners.

If Ground Floor is indeed behind this

Facebook page, then it's every bit as Astroturf as a backyard lawn mat.

But the results of having a horde of Missionites sashay into a

commission meeting? Those will be real.

Photo   |   Bakatalk

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Bio:
Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

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