San Francisco's Castro formally established as a cultural district

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to formally establish the Castro as an LGBTQ  Cultural District.

The idea of the cultural district is to help preserve the Castro's identity and legacy now and for generations to come.

 It means the neighborhood will get $230,000 in city funds which it can use to write grants seeking even more money.  People from around the world perceive the Castro as a gay mecca.

But the Castro has changed. Many say it has become more homogenized. There are fewer signs of the once vibrant, politically and socially active  gay community.

"There was such a huge evening culture. That has changed a lot," said Paul Ellis.

Ellis has worked at Cliff's Variety, a store on Castro street for more than 30 years.

"The number of independently owned businesses has shrunk every single year. Businesses that were here for decades suddenly can't make it," said Ellis.

What many here fear is a loss of identity as an important LGBTQ community. Shaun Haines is part of the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District working group.

"Now we have an official designation that comes with getting a set of funds that we will ensure that we will continue to be available to the queer community," said Haines.

"We can be assured the culture won't dissipate," said Andrea Aiello of the Castrro Upper Market Community Benefit District.

Many in the Castro are hoping the cultural designation will help lure more tourists to the neighborhood and help improve business here.

"As visitor come the will perhaps be more aware of the issues and how they can plug in to address them," said Haines.

The Castro, like most San Francisco neighborhoods is fighting high rents that are forcing many residents and businesses out.

"If it helps to create more opportunities for people to learn about the LGBT community that is always going to be a good thing," said Ellis.