Youth center to move in near pot club

A youth center founded to deter Chinatown kids from gang activity, offering everything from drug-abuse counseling to computer lessons, will soon begin moving into new Post Street digs across the street from a medical marijuana dispensary.

The nonprofit Community Youth Center, launched in 1971, recently won approval to renovate the building at 1042 Post St. it purchased for $4 million in December 2006, which would make room for youth programs from its scattered offices to move in, according to Cindy Tong, grants development manager.

However, it will also host youth counseling services — including for substance abuse — across the street from one of San Francisco’s well-established marijuana dispensaries, Grass Roots Clinic, at 1077 Post St.

“We’re aware it’s in our neighborhood,” said Sarah Wan, the center’s executive director. “When youths come to oursite, we do an orientation so they will know what’s going on in the neighborhood in terms of homelessness, drugs and so on.”

CYC first opened in Chinatown during the peak of the gang years, and has since moved out across The City, now offering youth services on Van Ness Avenue near Sutter Street and an employment-counseling office in the Richmond district, at Clement Street and Sixth Avenue, Tong said. Now it sees roughly 3,000 kids each year.

Youths are already familiar with the neighborhood, but an adult will escort younger members from the Post Street center to nearby bus stops to keep them safe, Wan said.

Although the scent of marijuana wafts up Post Street from Grass Roots, the dispensary does not let anyone through its doors without a note from their doctor, verified by the city of San Francisco, according to manager Kevin Johnson.

Grass Roots, which just reached its third anniversary, serves a few hundred clients per month, Johnson said.

As soon as the Post Street offices are renovated — a process already under way — programs for middle-school students will be the first to move in, including a “Computer Clubhouse” lab, counseling offices, classrooms and conference rooms. When the Van Ness lease ends in two years, most of the youth services will be under one roof on Post Street, according to Tong.

Post Street renovation plans met with little concern from neighbors, according to a report from planner Aaron Hollister. A handful complained about drums in the building associated with Chinese New Year festivities and asked CYC to install sound-muffling materials to dampen noise.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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