JTF Board Meeting

May 16, 2006

Union Bank of California Conference Room

Meeting minutes - DRAFT


Attendees:      Scott Belser, Seiko Fujimoto, Caryl Ito, Tak Matsuba, Sandy Mori (Pres.), Mark Moriguchi, Benh Nakajo, Rosalyn Tonai,

Staff:               Robert Hamaguchi

Guests:           Ken Rich, SF Planning Department, Kenji Taguma, Nichi Bei Times

Absent:           Doug Dawkins, Michael Gowe

Excused:         Tetsuya Yoshida


Call to order at 6:05 p.m. by Sandy Mori, President

A quorum was present and Scott Belser acted as secretary and took the minutes

In light of the special nature of the meeting and upcoming regular Board meeting on May 20, 2006, the Board did not review the minutes of the prior meeting or other regular agenda items.


A.     Discussion and Consideration of the Proposed Special Use District Ordinance as proposed by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi

The President opened the meeting of the Board by noting the meeting was called to address the issue before the community of the proposed Special Use District (SUD) sponsored by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi. The proposed legislation would create an SUD for Japantown with the goal of preserving the special character of the area. In general, it calls for additional reviews, notifications, and approvals for certain kinds of transactions. A copy of the proposed legislation (most recent full draft) is attached with these minutes.


The legislation reflected recent attention to Japantown’s future resulting from the sale of the malls and the Kabuki Theater. There have been a number of community meetings on the issue. JTF has helped organized these meetings to disseminate more information to the community and has also participated in them.


The Present outlined the process for consideration of the SUD proposal: discussion before the SF Planning Commission (SFPC) on May 25, 2006 at 1:30 at City Hall. Thereafter (2-3 weeks), it would go before the Land Use Committee (LUC). If approved, the proposal would then go before the full Board of Supervisors for final approval. The proposal may be amended during the process.


The President then asked Mr. Ken Rich of the SF Planning Department (SFPD) to explain key provisions of the proposed legislation. Mr. Rich discussed those provisions and key definitions of terms, using a summary that is attached to these minutes. Mr. Rich also referred to the broader SFPD review called the “Better Neighborhoods” that would also affect Japantown (as part of the Geary corridor) at some time in the future. The Board also asked a number of questions.


Mr. T. Matsuba of the JTF Board, who was also acting as a representative of the Japantown Merchants Association (JMA), asked for clarification of certain provisions and explanation of sample transactions. Mr. Matsuba summarized the response of a majority of JMA members as follows:

1.      There was still a lot of uncertainty about the proposal and its impact, despite the informational meetings that had already been held in the community. This was particularly true for those members who were uncomfortable with complex legal documents in English.

2.      Therefore, there was an interest in having more time to study the proposal. Such a proposal with potential impacts and uncertainties required more time to absorb and discuss.

3.      There was interest in a  “sunset clause” that would automatically end the program at a certain time (or require its explicit renewal). The members believed that such a mandated termination would provide protection against possible long-run damage if the SUD were not successful. If such a “sunset clause” were included, JMA is not likely to oppose the SUD (as it had in recent vote).

4.      There was some recognition that the proposal would impact different parts of Japantown differently, particularly North and South of Post Street. These differences in part reflected the continuing role of SF Redevelopment Authority (SFRDA) in certain parts of Japantown.


Mr. Rich said that he was unable to speak for the Commission or the Supervisors. However, he believed that an amendment to add a “sunset clause” was possible at this point in the public discussion, so long as the termination was expressed explicitly. It was suggested that a potential time for “sunset” was the expiration of the SFRDA authority over the A-2 area on January 1, 2009.


The Board discussed (among other issues) its role in the community deliberation of the SUD. A number of members stated their belief that JTF played a key role as a forum for all members of the community, including property owners, merchants, as well as consumers and other patrons. It was noted that JTF has worked closely with the “ad hoc council” that was organized specifically to interface with Supervisor Mirkarimi on the SUD issue.


After much discussion, Ms. Rosalyn Tonai moved that JTF support the proposed SUD. Ms. Caryl Ito proposed a “friendly amendment” that JTTF recommend that the SUD legislation be amended to include a “sunset clause” to coincide with the expiration of SFRDA’s role on January 1, 2009. Ms. Tonai accepted the amendment. Scott Belser seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.


Meeting adjourned at 7:45 p.m.