JTF, Inc. Board Meeting

1765 Sutter Street, Conference Room

June 24, 2002, 6 –8:30 p.m.



Attendees:    Jeff Mori, David Ishida, Chris Durazo, Jon Osaki, Tak Matsuba, Linda Jofuku, Seiko Fujimoto, Mariko Watanabe, Caryl Ito, Bob Otsuka, Colin Gomez Takeno Chiyo and Yoko Tsukuda


Guests:           Shirley Wysinger (SFRA), Olivia Swilley (MONS), Chris Hirano, Rob Eshelman (Supervisor Gonzalez’ office, District 5), Kaz Maniwa (CJACLC), Ron Vinson (MONS) and Sandy Mori


A.                Jeff Mori acknowledges presence of quorum and calls the meeting to order at 6:25pm,


B.                  Approval of minutes of May 30th, 2002 with the following corrections: addition of Edwin Lee (DPT) to guest roster and the replacement of “Buchanan Mall” to “Peace Plaza” leakage in Section 5.


C.                [Moved ahead from item G in agenda] Rob Eshelman, aide to Supervisor Gonzalez, reports that Supervisor Gonzalez is still at the Board of Supervisors meeting this evening and will not be able to join us. Plans made to continue discussions with Supervisor Gonzalez next week.


D.                Chair’s Report

Jeff Mori reports that the Japan Center Garage Corporation (JCGC) Lease was approved last month. There is a preliminary budget with two categories for marketing and community organizing. However, the final details of the scope of work are still not set. Linda and Jeff will meet with Richard Hashimoto (JCGC) to determine the final allocations. The funds will be made available sometime between July 1, 2002 and the end of August.


The JCCCNC/JTF Board Meeting is scheduled for July 9th from 5:30-6:30 pm. The executive committee meeting will determine what we will discuss. Mostly this will be a meet and greet opportunity.


Rosalyn Tonai requests maternity leave for two to four months. Caryl moves the motion, Tak seconds, and the board unanimously approves. All wish her well.


Linda Jofuku begins her first week as our new executive director. She comes from Yu Ai-Kai with a strong and diverse background, is familiar with Japantown, union organizing (with Local 21), and national organizing (with race and census, women’s, and senior issues). She also has excellent references. The selection committee hired her for her strength as a community organizer. Tomorrow (June 25th, from 7-10pm) will be a celebration for Linda at the Hukilau on Masonic and Geary. Food will be provided with a short program. The board will also take this time to thank Judi Nihei for all of her good work over the past many years and to wish her luck in grad school.


E.                  Staff Report ­­­

At the California Japantown’s Planning Conference, the three J-towns (Little Tokyo, San Jose and San Francisco) met, along with the redevelopment staff and planning staff from their respective jurisdictions. This task force had a tremendous presence. San Francisco is doing well. In terms of the various task forces, ours is the probably the most diverse, largest and the most active. It was energizing to see what has creatively been done with various arts groups in conjunction with planning and redevelopment.


What we need to do in San Francisco is start requesting the SB307 funds from the State Parks and Rec. We need to apply for the grant for the initial $50,000. What was told to us was that $10,000 is going to be cut off the top of the $50,000 to go to the state library. This discussion was not had with our task force, so it came as quite a surprise to us as well as the City Planning Dept. When the Executive Director of JCCCNC, Paul Osaki, was asked, “who decided this?” he said someone in the State Library. 


Jeff Mori reports that the issue was reported back two months ago at the 3 J-Towns meeting without too much opposition.  The item was not voted on but it started with an original $10,000 contribution from the leadership council to hire a consultant, Bill Sugaya.  The leadership council felt it was important that there be some statewide coordination in order to ensure that the intent of the legislation is carried out and to make sure that the proposals submitted by the 3 J-Towns is compliant with the legislation.  The funding was not meant for administration, but to instead have meetings for the 3 J-Towns and provide technical assistance by hiring Bill Sugaya.


Jeff Tully from the City Planning Department was officially assigned by Gerald Greene to write the grant application for SB307 funds.  Before doing so, the Task Force needs to meet with him to submit the grant application before the end of July.  He also stated that there needs to be an amendment to the resolution passed earlier because it specified that the library’s going to issue the funds.   The resolution needs to be re-worded for State Parks and Recreation.  Jeff Tully will follow up with this amendment.


Rob Eshelman reports that the local legislative body makes the determination of who the group is, so it has to go through the Board of Supervisors.  The Board already passed a resolution accepting the money and designating LPAB within planning to be the lead agency, but the board did not act on designating a group to conduct the planning. 


The questions that remain are:


1.      It would seem that administrative funds would go to the local body to supervise what’s being done because they’re the closest to us, but it seems like we’re adding a layer of bureaucracy and spending money that’s scarce.  Is this the case?

2.      Did the CJALC make a commitment of $10,000 to do this coordination statewide?

3.      Is it $10,000 from each of the cities to come off the top of the $50,000? 

4.      What kind of technical assistance should people be expecting from Bill Sugaya?


The Board asked staff to write a formal letter to Supervisor Gonzalez and the Planning Department informing them of the Task Force’s intention to apply for SB 307 funds.


F.                  1600 Webster Street and SFRA Commission Hearing

Caryl Ito reports that John McInerney III of Anasazi Properties has asked that the Task Force support their position on the demolition permit for 1600 Webster St., which will be heard by the Board of Appeals on the June 26th.  McInerney also wondered if the Task Force was going to support the McInerney project at the SFRA Commission hearing.  One political issue within this topic is the passage of an amendment to the Redevelopment Agency’s affordable housing requirement and the pressure to have this policy apply to 1600 Webster St.  Also what are the community benefits?  McInerney stated that he would do his best to sell the retail property to someone who would have the integrity to maintain the cultural nuances and values that we want to see and that he would not go to a fast food.  However, he did not say that he wouldn’t sell it to a Starbucks at the end of the day if nobody came forward. He did not want a sit-down restaurant and full kitchen in that space, which limits the type of food vending at that space.  Also, McInerney can sell it to someone who has the intent to keep it a culturally respectable retail venture, but what would keep that person from sub-leasing it to a Starbucks?


Community members also requested that the SFRA Commission Hearing at which this item is going to be heard be held in the neighborhood. 


Chris Hirano reports that he filed an appeal of the demolition permit as an individual.  The appeal is to say that until both the community and the Redevelopment Agency approve an acceptable plan, the building should not be demolished.  The Task Force Board voted on whether to support the appeal of the demolition permit.  On the advice of Shirley Wysinger, the Task Force voted to take no position on the item.  He would also like to ask that the Task Force to not support the demolition because of all the unanswered questions. 


Jeff Mori had a concern about how the Task Force comes to an agreement on what constitutes something that will be tangible within the community.  We also need to figure out, at what point do we tell him that this is okay. 


Tak Matsuba, on behalf of the Merchants Association, did not want to see undue delay of the project on the corner, and would rather demolish the building and clear it up before the Nihonmachi Street Fair because it is becoming blight.


The board requested that a smaller group composed of JTF board members and community-wide members meet to discuss the issue of community benefits.



G.                SFRA Inclusionary Housing Amendment

Shirley Wysinger states the Affordable Housing Requirement is amending the 1990 Inclusionary Housing Policy, which did not include owners of private property within a project area.  With this particular project, the director wanted to amend the policy so it could apply to this project. 

This amendment can apply to all Japantown private property owners.  The Commission will be holding a hearing on this July23rd. 


Jeff states that we should get notices out to individual property owners through leaflets to inform them of this hearing.


John Osaki reports that from previous meetings, McInerney understood that a space for Kimochi was a significant benefit for the community.  McInerney made it very clear that should the Nihonmachi Parking Corporation not support this idea, he would develop in the current envelope of the building and would do nothing more than he was required.  Since the Nihonmachi Parking thing didn’t happen, this is how he is going to proceed. 


Chris Hirano urges the Task Force to, if not taking a position to oppose the demolition, to make a statement defending itself. 


Ron Vinson, director of Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services states that the Mayor is in support of the affordable housing component and urges everyone to attend the Redevelopment Agency meeting at which it will be heard.  With large projects, such as the 1600 Webster St. site, we certainly should endorse an affordable housing component. 


Jeff Mori states that the Task Force has to come to some agreement as to what we want to see at 1600 Webster St.  


H.                 Takeno Chiyo’s last day with the Japantown Task Force is on July 19th. Chris states that she has done an excellent job interning with us. Board thanks her for all of her good work.


I.                    Personnel Committee

Judi has started the staff review process for Chris


J.                  Other Business          and Announcements                                                                                 

Olivia Swilley, from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services reports that Mayor Brown has invited every neighborhood in the city to march with him in this weekend’s LGB&T Pride Parade. STOMP will also be performing and marching with the Mayor’s contingent.


K.                  Meeting ends at 8:35pm.