JTF, Inc. Board Meeting

1765 Sutter Street, Conference Room

April 22, 2002

Minutes, 6-9:00pm


Present:    Sheila Chung, Doug Dawkins, Seiko Fujimoto, Colin Gomez, David Ishida, Caryl Ito, Tak Matsuba, Jeff Mori, Mark Moriguchi, Benh Nakajo, Jon Osaki, Bob Otsuka, Pat Shiono, Rosalyn Tonai, Mariko Watanabe, Chris Durazo, Takeno Chiyo and Ernie Yoshikawa


Others Present: Karen Kai, Sandy Mori and Shirley Wysinger


A.     Staff Report – Chris Durazo

The President of JCCCNC’s Board, Eric Tate is still trying to arrange a date with his board to meet with the Task Force board. The Cherry Blossom Booth was successful. Staff, board, advisory board members and volunteers did a wonderful job by answering many questions and passing out 1000 flyers over the two-week period. Chris reported that fliers and e-mails were sent out to notify the community on Bone Marrow Testing and Redistricting. Chris also announced that the National Asian Pacific American Community Development Conference (CAPACD) conference will be held in Washington D.C. from May 19-21, 2002.


Discussion around Redistricting ranged between some board members not minding being in Pacific Heights District 2, but others feeling as if there is an important history and relationship Japantown has with District 5 and the Western Addition. District lines were said to last 10 years, but another comment added that the lines are overturned every six years. David Ishida requested copies of the Japantown map and specific borders. Chris will get copies for everyone. Jeff Mori also suggested getting a copy of the map for Kenji Taguma of Nichi Bei Times, who will be doing article on Japantown and redistricting.


Ernie and Takeno have finished compiling the merchant’s database (first draft), which has contact information for merchants located within the major corridors. They will next focus on a database of Community Based Organizations and nonprofits in the area.


The Task Force has not been able to pay the interns for over a month, because of complications with our fiscal sponsor (requesting a determination of employment status that was not intern). An option to set up a bank account to pay them and receive reimbursements from will not work because of our still pending nonprofit status. The other option is to hire them to work as part time staff. David asked what the original premise was as interns – paid or unpaid. Chris added the intention was to provide only two paid internships at a time, lasting no more than 20 hours per week for one semester or two quarters depending on the school they attended. Caryl commented that it was to the Task Force’s advantage to clarify them as interns to protect JCYC from unemployment. Jeff agreed, but remarked that two things changed – minimum wage ordinance and issue of unemployment. Based on acceptance of internship, Chris stated that she made it clear to interns that they would have to be responsible for their own taxes. Jeff also said that the last option is to switch from interns to consultant status. Chris asked if this is problem with Redevelopment to Shirley. Shirley said that this shouldn’t be a problem. Chris added that budget for the internships are taken from community outreach funds – allocated from money not used in paying full-time executive director. Mariko questioned whether an outside contractor could work inside the office. David stated that if they were contract workers, they were hired to do work described in a contract and not subject to being supervised. Mark clarified that it is fine line. Shirley offered to provide the agency’s legal staff to help the Task Force structure this. Caryl’s concern is that interns have not been paid. David motioned to have this referred to the executive committee. Without need to vote on this motion, Jeff said issue would be resolved with the committee. Chris requested personnel review before new executive director comes. Jeff and others from group agreed.


B.      Chair’s Report – Jeff

Jeff announced that on April 16th, the Parking and Traffic Commission passed the Japan Center Garage Corporation Lease. Jeff added that three members of the current parking board (Jeff, Tak and Colin) resigned due to political pressures. The members resigned not for purposes of allowing lease to go through but instead for the “perceived” conflict of interest. Jeff made a point to state that the city attorney never said to go one-way or the other. Jeff, Tak and Colin were not present when the lease was voted on to be resubmitted. Jeff added that the Japantown Task Force, within the guidelines set forth by Department of Parking and Traffic, would be receiving $100,000 per year as opposed to $50,000 per year. Jeff remarked that the lease might be scheduled to be heard again sometime in the middle of May by the Board of Supervisors. He also commented that the lease is a big lease for the Japan Center Garage Corporation, because they have had short period leases for some time as the organization did some reorganizing. The lease will be for 15 years with a 15-year option. The DPT Commission and staff are going to be handling the presentation to the Board of Supervisors. Caryl wanted to clarify that from the Board it must be sent to the Finance Committee. Jeff reaffirmed this. Jeff announced that there is a meeting this Friday that Supervisor Gonzalez’s office has set up, originally to talk about issues of the lease. Paul Osaki (JCCCNC) will be at the meeting, along with three or four others.  Jeff thought it helped to have others from the Task Force Board and a staff member to be at the meeting. Another issue that may be discussed according to Jeff is the SB307 funding, that’s supposed to be going to the Landmarks Committee. Through Supervisor Gonzalez’s legislation, Landmarks receives funding as a subcommittee of the Planning Department. Jeff had a discussion with Paul asking if he thought it made sense to send $50,000 to a City department. Jeff explained the Task Force’s concern that it would be good to have this administered by Redevelopment because they are already familiar with Japantown and would not consider taken an administrative cut of the funding. An option Jeff suggested was to have the Landmarks Committee assign the money to the Task Force, to include cultural preservation. Paul was in agreement. Jeff explained that none of the three Japantowns have submitted the contracts to encumber funding for the current year in order to guarantee funding for next year. The three Japantowns need to encumber contracts before June 30 for the 50,000. All three J-towns are going through different city agencies. Shirley explained that with Planning and Landmarks, the Planning Department charges a fee with everything, so Japantown will get less funding in the end.

Caryl talked to Aaron Peskin and asked, “How could you let this happen?” Supervisor Gonzalez swept through without talking to anyone except for the Cultural Center and it was on the Consent agenda, so no one ever read it. Peskin remarked to Caryl that he did not remember ever hearing about it. That is how it got by. Jeff remarked that this time coming through, there doesn’t seem to be very much division in community on the issue and hopes Supervisor Gonzalez will be a little more open to it being contracted out to us. Jeff asked for volunteers to also attend this meeting with Supervisor Gonzalez.


Jeff reported on working with the three Japantowns and the Proposition 40 proposal. He has a call in to Alan Nishio, who is the chair for the three Japantowns. So far, not everyone has completed the Prop. 40 proposals yet. Caryl asked how was the Thursday meeting (Prop. 40 committee meeting with the different organizations interested in the funds). Jeff shared that people came up with proposals for projects currently in the process.


The planning piece was talked about and many wanted to see the planning effort continue. Other ideas were to complete the Peace Plaza Project and for the Japanese Benevolent Society of California to have a place to store its documents and historical things, as one of the oldest nonprofit, Japanese organization in San Francisco. There was also a request for doing some renovation work for the ‘Y,” from Nihonmachi Little Friends. The Kokoro project would like to submit a proposal to restore the face of the Kokoro project (which is a City Landmark). Jeff noted that what the community views as historical may not be qualified as “historical” to the state. Shirley remarked that she thinks the Kokoro site is a historical landmark. Jeff said that realistically, everyone knows there are reasons that some of the proposals within local Japantown may not fit in the category of Prop. 40 funding. We can look at other options from City funding to help those projects. The question of whether Kokoro is a historical landmark issued by the state is still unclear. Another proposal was from NJAHS, submitted philosophically because they’re in the process of receiving a grant. Not sure whether or not they can look at different types of funding because they are sitting on federal property. Sheila asked if the City funding is for the space. Jeff said the funding is for the space – space to fund and restore the Presidio barracks in order to display Japanese American history and their gallery. Sheila asked if the proposals are going to be submitted to three Japantowns or separately. If they do not go for it together, then the Japantowns will go on their own. Jeff stated that as soon as they have finished writing it, it will be sent out to everybody.


Board of Supervisors Meeting re: Redevelopment Agency: A resolution was brought forth by Supervisor Daly to consider the Board of Supervisors taking over the Redevelopment Agency. There had already been one meeting and some people attended from Task Force, but did not speak due to the high volume of speakers. Jeff stated that issue is not over, and the hearing will be held on Monday evening. He feels it would be appropriate to have some Task Force members attend and make a statement on the support we get from the Agency, and how the Agency would probably fair better as an independent body as opposed to being under the jurisdiction of the Board of Supervisors. Caryl mentioned herself, Sandy, Chris, Takeno and Rich Wada attended. Half way into meeting, the SPUR director spoke, already prepared to deal with a November ballot issue (which still could happen). Chris Daly knew he would not get votes to turn over Redevelopment to the Board of Supervisors that night and so they did not take a vote. It was decided not to put it on the ballot. Supervisor Peskin presented a resolution, changing authority of who gets to appoint, and recommending a mix between the Mayor and Board of Supervisors. There was a resolution to continue the matter. Some wanted to kill it that night, but voted to continue it to this meeting.


C.    Committee Reports

Fundraising Committee: Pat informed the group about a joint proposal that the Task Force and Merchant’s Association submitted to the Neighborhood Beautification Fund. The request was for $40,000 to purchase a street cleaning machine and provide part-time staffing to pick up and remove graffiti to be used for entire Japantown neighborhood.


Search Committee: Caryl reported that the Search Committee is ready to make an offer to a candidate for the Executive Director position.


Communications Committee: Roslyn noted that NJAHS would do a manga show in the fall. Tak Onishi of Japan Video also wanted some museum space for manga and Caryl suggested talking to Rosalyn about this.


Nominations Committee: Jeff will be meeting with Commissioner Pak to help recruit some Korean business/residence in the area. Jeff will also ask Vivian Williams if she is interested. Williams is a longtime resident and has lived in Japantown for three generations. Her father is a retired police officer and did a lot of community mental health work in the area and in Juvenal Hall.


Advisory Committee: Jeff announced names of interested individuals to join the advisory board: Shunichi Seino, vice-president of Kinokuniya Bookstores, Charlie Morimoto, an administrator with the Department of Public Health and Reverend Richard Grange of Konko Church. Chris felt that the board should formalize relationship with Advisory committee. She spoke with Daryl Higashi who suggested a letter acknowledging what relationship they have with us and perhaps appointing someone to be chair of the advisory committee. David asked to refer this to executive committee to try to develop process for this. Jeff said there is a six-month timetable to build infrastructure piece on corporate papers, funding and other issues. Chris stated that information is routed to advisory board members, but there is not a formal process. Sheila suggested that past notes, agendas, etc. might be good to send to the advisory committee in order for them to be aware of what is happening. Jeff asked whether the group is in favor of accepting the three members. Caryl moves motion. David seconds motion. Sheila asked if there is a cap on the number of advisory members that Task Force can have. Some of the group said no. All were in favor of accepting the individuals as members of the advisory board.


Program Committee: Caryl asked if Shirley had any idea of when the public hearings will be held regarding the 1600 Webster Street site. The architect Gary Gee would not be able to present earlier than April 5. Now that it is April 20 still waiting to hear what is going on. SFRA architects are working with them because they felt it to be a very important corner and that any project at that site will make a statement. Shirley said that the demolition permit is in SFRA office. Believed that it was signed off on already, but Chris Hirano wanted to know, on behalf of community, if it could be appealed. Shirley responded that it must go through the Board of Appeals, which McInerney sits on. SFRA is hoping to have a meeting within two weeks, to be held at JCCCNC.


Caryl said that two meetings ago, they had asked Tak to set up a meeting with McInerney and find out where they are in the project. She suggested having some communication with Gary Gee to talk about what the community suggests. Shirley says that the architect has the lead on getting the design and the proposal. Design would be conditionally approved – subject to choosing colors that will be used and certain other esthetics. Rosalyn asked if Gary Gee had done other condo projects in the City. Some members of the group said that he does modern-type work. Caryl think Gary Gee is approachable.


 Jeff asked if they did not conduct a hearing until the agency pretty much had the final design. Shirley responded that it goes to commission when there is some shape that they feel could be moved to the commission. There is still design work that continues beyond the commission. With all the new legislation, Caryl asked how this might affect project. Shirley says there is a policy that applies to those developers that purchased property from the agency. Technically, this property was purchased through a private party, without any concessions or variances. There was concern for providing some affordable units. Chris asked what was the policy for those who purchased agency land on affordability and certificate holder stipulation. Shirley said 10% affordability. David responded not on private property. Shirley said that SFRA could tell private property owners about certificate holders and can outreach to them, but the Agency can’t force owners to participate because they do not own the property. Developers sometimes favor this.


Chris said that Tak, Ernie and herself were able to meet with Rod Henmi and going through the drawings, floor by floor. Chris explains the plans to the group. Jeff said that the public should be made aware of the plans and could come to the office to review them. David also suggested that they should also let people know timeline if there is going to be a review process. Shirley will notify us when the community meeting will be held. Chris wants to meet with Daryl Higashi to see what, from programming point of view, we should think about. Caryl asked if Rod available to meet with Gary Gee before public hearing. Chris said no.


  1. Other Business          and Announcements

American Planning Association Conference in Chicago update postponed because Judi was not available to report back tonight. Caryl requested Judi to write an article for the press.


Proposed Bike Lane along Post Street: Caryl reported that during the repavement of Post Street, DPT intended to eliminate one lane of traffic and provide trial bike lanes along both sides of Post Street, from Presidio to Gough. All merchants should have been notified, however, the task force is not sure whom this notification was sent to in the neighborhood. The concerns raised have been regarding traffic flow and pedestrian safety with cars coming out of the garage. Supervisor Gonzalez’ aids state that they and the Supervisor were not aware of these plans. Letter to DPT needs to be sent stating our opposition to this project due to the lack of communication with our Merchants. Shirley suggests that we talk to Olivia Swilley at Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services. Chris will also contact the Bicycle Coalition.