Japantown Task Force, Inc.

Board Meeting

1765 Sutter Street, Conference Room

March 4, 2002




Present: Sheila Chung, Doug Dawkins, David Ishida, Caryl Ito, Tak Matsuba, Benh Nakajo, Jon Osaki, Bob Otsuka, Pat Shiono, Rosalyn Tonai, Chris Durazo


Excused Absence: Colin Gomez, Jeff Mori


Others Present: Ernie Ishikawa, Karen Kai, Sandy Mori, Helen Sause


In the absence of Chair Jeff Mori, Vice-Chair Caryl Ito, noting the presence of a quorum, called the meeting to order at 6:15pm.  The agenda was adopted.


A motion was made by David Ishida to adopt the minutes, seconded by Bob Otsuka.  Minutes were approved.


Staff Report – Caryl Ito

1.      Interns: internship descriptions have been submitted to the Board.  Takeno Chiyo, University of Santa Clara student Takeno Chiyo is participating in the pilot program.  Chris is working with Professor Ben Kobashigawa at San Francisco State University (SFSU); his student Ernie Ishikawa attended the meeting to see if he would be interested in interning.

2.      Community Organizing: still trying to set up a meeting between JTF Inc. Board and JCCCNC’s board, whose president, Eric Tate, has been working with Chris to schedule.  Seiko Fujimoto has been able to obtain a space for the meeting at Miyako Inn.  Chris will contact interested Board members when the meeting is scheduled.  The last scheduled meeting was cancelled due to the unavailability of JCCCNC’s board members.  A recommendation was made to do this within the next month, given larger City issues that are pertinent.  Ros Tonai will encourage JCCCNC board members to participate.

3.      Cherry Blossom Festival: JTF Inc. will have an information table and propose to the Cherry Blossom Festival Committee that we be allowed to share with other non-profits: Jikeikai, Asian American Theatre Company, Hapa Issues Forum and Kearny Street Workshop.  Staff will develop information sheets for distribution.

4.      Resource Development: Proposals to the S.F. Neighborhood Beautification Program are due soon.  Based on conversations with Program Director Wendy Nelder, Chris is working with other Japantown organizations to fund street cleaning, particularly on the Buchanan Mall.  She will work with JTF Inc. Funding Committee, Japantown Merchants and the Nihonmachi Parking Corporation to see if this can be worked out.

5.      Muni: Chris attended an S.F. Muni stakeholders meeting regarding future plans for the neighborhood.  Light rail up Geary Street is prioritized immediately after their current activity which is to finish the downtown corridor.  This would be underground from downtown to Laguna Street, when it would come aboveground.  This was also presented in our report to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.  Chris will continue to stay on top of this.  Caryl reported that the Board of Supervisors is actively interested in this; we will stay in touch with District X Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, whose committee had been studying this.


Executive Committee Report -- Caryl

1.      A request has been made that the meeting date be changed from the 1st to the 4th Monday of the month so that SFRA Western Addition Area Project Manager Shirley Wysinger can attend.

2.      Regarding JCCCNC’s proposal to the Zellerbach Foundation: we were unable to comply with their request for a letter of support because the one day’s notice was not sufficient time for staff to follow JTF process for approval.  The Executive Committee asks for feedback as to whether the Executive Committee can make such determinations.  JPPDTF policy was discussed.  Jon Osaki suggested it might be a part of the new Program Committee; Caryl suggested that the Executive Committee might act if the Program Committee could not be convened in a timely fashion.  It was suggested that a timeframe be established as part of a standardized endorsement policy, so that a regular process can be maintained which the entire community can access in an equitable manner, not to mention JTF’s commitment to keeping the community informed as well.  It was suggested that staff and the Executive Committee act as filter for recommendations; the board can then vote on recommendations.  The Executive Committee will develop a policy for discussion and vote.


Fundraising Committee – Pat Shiono

No active proposals out at this time.  The committee will work on the Neighborhood Beautification request.  Pam David, Executive Director of the Mayors Office of Community Development, will be invited to the next Board meeting to discuss funding possibilities.  MOCD offers core, long-term funding.


Search Committee – Caryl Ito

The committee held its first interview for the E.D. position; the second is scheduled in a few weeks.


Communications Committee – Seiko Fujimoto

1.      Richard Shintaku attended the last meeting to talk about marketing all different aspects of Japantown, from shopping to nightlife.  He recommends a focus on traditional Japan and an updatgd brochure.  While the Japantown Merchants Association can be updated regularly, it has been difficult to update the brochure.  He suggests that a marketing campaign be implemented, including local TV regional-interest programs, additional festivals and other ideas; focus on one major activity (e.g., festivals) would provide maximum benefit.  Ros Tonai will share some possible funding information with staff.

2.      Website Workgroup: Doug Dawkins reported updates from discussion with the Ros, Sheila and the committee.  They will try to present their ideas to the board for their consideration, hopefully at the next meeting.


Nominations Committee

Jeff Mori was absent so there was not formal report.  Chris has applications available in the office.  There was discussion of interest/expertise areas that need to be filled.  Jon questioned District 5Supervisor Gonzalez’s concern over broad community representation raised at his meeting with board and staff members and whether it related to future nominations.  Caryl reported that his emphasis was rather that JTF Inc. board and JCCCNC board should meet.  JTF Inc. board and staff made the Supervisor and his aide, Rob Eshelman, aware of our open meeting policy and had asked that JTF Inc. be directly notified when Japantown-related issues were to be brought before the board.


Program Committee – Tak Matrsuba

Jon and Tak will head this committee.  After seeing the proposed 1600 Webster Street site plan, Tak feels that an open community meeting is vital.  The Executive Committee has charged the Program Committee with formal communications with potential developers and business owners.  Tak has already asked for a meeting with the new owners of the Iwamasa Building through Sam Seiki and Harold Iwamasa.


Finance Committee – no update.


Discussion Items

1.      Japan Center Garage Corporation Lease – the JCGC board is re-submitting the proposal to the Parking Commission and the Board of Supervisors.  Jeff had a good meeting with Supervisor Ammiano.  It should be introduced to the Board in approximately 30 days; at that time the Supervisors will need to be contacted.

2.      SB 307 – Alan Nishio, chair of the California Japanese American Leadership Council (CJALC), has not yet responded to questions regarding funds dispersal as its currently set forth.  Information on the Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board was distributed.  San Francisco and San Jose would both prefer to work with their local Redevelopment Agencies, since they have direct experience in working in this area.  At the last meeting of the three Japantowns, those present made a policy decision that each city should make its own determination, given the differences in governance and operations.  Though JTF had not been informed in advance, Supervisor Gonzalez has again today introduced this topic before the Board of Supervisors.  The process for the funds is as follows: the State disburses the money to the City and County legislative body; from there it goes to a community organization.  That legislative body can assign a department to manage this process; however, Supervisor Gonzalez wants the Board to maintain control for San Francisco’s funds.  Jon explained CJALC’s position regarding a paid staff position to support the statewide effort; the position has not yet been filled.  Advisory Board member Sandy Mori reminded the board that three official representatives from JTF Inc. must be designated.  Jeff Mori and Chris Durazo will attend; one more representative is needed.  It was suggested that efforts be made to gain Supervisor Gonzalez ‘s support to have the Redevelopment Agency as the supervising body; a response was made that other Board members’ support be sought.  It was suggested that District 2 Supervisor Supervisor Gavin Newsom be asked to introduce that recommendation to the Board.  Paul Osaki has not indicated whether or not he will continue to represent San Francisco, rather than participate as a member of the CJALC Board.  The issue of potential Proposition 40 funds was also raised.  David Ishida volunteered to meet with Supervisor Newsom.  David made a motion to approve Jeff Mori, Chris Durazo as staff backup, and Doug Dawkins as official representatives.  Bob Otsuka seconded.  Passed unanimously.

3.      YWCA: Details regarding the agreement between the YWCA and Soko Bukai to turnover the building to community use have been summed up in the newspaper articles to date insofar as it can be made public.  The agreement is acceptable to Nihonmachi Little Friends (NLF).  Negotiations are underway and results will be made public as soon as possible.  Sandy suggested that JTF Inc. begin the process to officially endorse NLF’s Capital Campaign.  Escrow is due to close March 25th.

4.      1600 Webster Street:  Program Committee will ask for a meeting with John McInerney to get more detail on his plans in order to participate more responsibly in the SFRA community meeting.  They will also meet with Advisory Board member Daryl Higashi for information on affordable housing issues.

5.      Iwamasa Building – Tak is trying to meet with the new owners.  Escrow has closed.  Owners are local.  A question was raised as to why the private sale of the Iwamasa Building has not been questioned in the same way as the sale of Japantown Bowl.  It was suggested that SFRA might be responsible for public disclosure of the new owners’ plans for proposed use.

6.      Peace Plaza Historical Wall – Ros asks that JTF keep in mind the possibility of participating in Phase II of the Peace Plaza renovation which might involve a history wall that informs about Japantown in an historical context.  Funding possibilities exist through S.F. Neighborhood Beautification Fund, S.F. Arts Commission, SFRA and California Civil Liberties Public Education Fund.  CCLPEF has already announced funding for some local historical public art project; it was suggested that Ros make sure to find out what that project is or if funds might be available to this project.  It was suggested that the project should be coordinated with the Plaza Canopy plans.  Jon asked that anyone who wants something considered by the Program Committee provide a brief written request.  It was suggested that the National Japanese American Historical Society (NJAHS) be the lead entity


Other Business

1.      Bone Marrow Donor Drive – JCYC is organizing a drive in Japantown tentatively March 19th at JCCCNC.  There is a great shortage of API donors and Jon is asking for the community’s support.

2.      The office computer is down; Chris will let everyone know as soon as email is back up.  Jon offered the use of a computer at JCYC.

3.      NJAHS fundraiser takes place March 15th.


The meeting was adjourned at 8:40pm.