Recent storms caused irreparable damage and mold, leaving several GLBT organizations without office space.  CREDIT: Rick Braatz
san diego
GLBT organizations forced to vacate 301 University building
Recent storms caused irreparable mold damage
Published Thursday, 31-Dec-2009 in issue 1149
GLBT advocacy organizations were forced to vacate their headquarters at 301 University Avenue after recent storms caused the building irreparable mold damage.
The building housed seven pro-GLBT/marriage-equality organizations, including Equality California, Marriage Equality USA, the Courage Campaign, San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality, Californians Against Hate and Restore Equality 2010.
“We lost this giant building and huge investment [that] we were trying to put into the community,” said Marriage Equality USA field Coordinator Fernando Lopez. “It has been kind of overwhelming.”
Lopez said it was his idea to house the organizations in one building and to do so to promote collaboration.
“The office was a great place to meet,” Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate said. “It was a space to share ideas.”
Organizers including Karger have been forced to work from home or find a temporary workspace.
But while the closure of the 301 University building has physically separated the organizations, it has not weakened their want to collaborate.
“We’re still going to work together, and we will continue to build a community wide effort to win marriage back,” said Equality California field manager Jacqueline Palmer.
Lopez said the building’s lease was up in November and its organizations were in the process of negotiating a longer lease and raising funds to renovate the building.
“Before the lease terms could be negotiated, the rains came and the 45 mile an hour winds knocked us out,” Lopez said. A sectioned off portion of the building was already damaged by the mold and not accessible to the public.
“With the massive rain damage and leaks from the roof, the water that seeped in reinvigorated the mold and the problem became so bad that no one could be there,” he said.
Lopez thanked Abbott Realty for hosting Marriage Equality USA and Equality California’s phone banks, Bienestar for hosting canvass meetings and Lips Restaurant for hosting street canvass meetings.
Palmer said many people have reached out to her organization by offering storage space.
“It’s difficult to organize around the holidays,” Palmer said. “We’re still searching for a new home. Any office furniture that can be provided would be helpful.”
Karger said he is looking for an organization to merge with.
“I’m looking for a more generic organization to fold into that works at a national level,” Karger said.
Palmer said her organization would likely move out of the Hillcrest area if given a similar offer in another part of San Diego.
“The most important thing is [that] we have a space that’s accessible for as many people as possible,” she said.
Lopez thinks the chances of finding a similar situation are low but would appreciate any help.
“There’s no way that Marriage Equality USA is going to be able to acquire that kind of space for the minimal amount of money that we were retaining it with before,” Lopez said. “If anybody happens to know of a 10,000 square foot office space that we can rent for a dollar a month, we would love to hear from them.”

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