Los Angeles Times

Can San Francisco's famed leather district be saved in an era of high property values?

SAN FRANCISCO - When Dahn Van Laarz, a bearded 59-year-old in Levi's and a motorcycle jacket, walks the streets of San Francisco's official leather district, he finds it hard to avoid the ghosts.

The Club Baths, a once-busy gay bath house, has morphed into an even busier homeless shelter. The Bootcamp, a bar whose clientele favored leather, bondage, domination and sadomasochism, is now an acupuncture clinic.

And SF Catalyst, a leather community center and dungeon just outside the district boundaries, must vacate its home by year's end. The brick dungeon - with ceilings high enough to swing a whip and a calendar filled with "BDSM sampler parties" and Leathermen's Discussion Group meetings - is scheduled to give way to apartments.

If Catalyst can't find a new home in this era of high property values and even higher rents, San Francisco will be left with only one commercial dungeon space.

So what's a big-hearted city to do when

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