JTF Board Meeting

October 27, 2003 @ 6:00 p.m.

1765 Sutter St.




A.    Presentation: Seth Schneider, Transportation and Land Use Coalition


TALC is a coalition of 90 member organizations that focuses on creating transportation improving transit choices and livable communities.  Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a form of transportation very similar to light rail.  BRT features may include dedicated lanes, computer assisted steering, natural gas, “smart” traffic lights, and easier and faster boarding among other things.  BRT, unlike light rail, can also be implemented relatively quickly, and can be upgraded to light rail.  Proposition K, the half-cent transportation sales tax renewal is supported by TALC would provide $110 million for BRT along Geary, Van Ness, and Portrero. 


B.      Director’s Report:


1.      Aki Matsuri


Staff attended and worked at Aki Matsuri, which had good attendance and nice weather, and brought various groups together.  Seiko remarked that there were too many tickets for free games floating around, which made it more difficult to defray costs of the event.


2.      MTA Citizens Advisory Committee


If anyone is interested in serving on the MTA CAC for the Geary corridor, they can apply with the Task Force.  Deadline is November 4th, with 13 members and 5 alternates who can sit on the committee.


3.      Housing Element of the General Plan


Linda shared the JTF Concepts Plan and Community Plan with the Planning Commission regarding the Housing Element.  Major concerns include the elimination of the 1 to 1 parking space/housing unit ratio and exclusion from the discussion process.  Linda suggests discussion of taking a position the housing element.  David suggests hosting a forum to share information on the Housing Element and seek feedback for community members on the issue.  Karen brings up the point that the Task Force should not only break up the plan into small issues, but since it includes such sweeping changes, should be looked at in a broad way as well.  The Task Force will pursue looking into putting on a community forum on the Housing Element.


5        Central Freeway Exit Study


Linda was told that Sup. Bevan Dufty had gone to the MTA to study the impact of not replacing the Central Freeway exits that were torn down.  However, Olivia Swilley contacted Dufty’s office and told Linda that Dufty was trying to placate the Bicycle Coalition and Tom Radulovich, and thus should not be concerned with the request. 


6        Signage Update


The second round of Japantown signs are now going up at through the Fremont Exit, Mission Exit, Fisherman’s Wharf area, and Van Ness Corridor to Japantown.


7        SB307 Update


At this point, the Task Force cannot fill out the application for SB307 funds.  The Planning Department, which is the receiving entity, must complete the application.  Larry Badiner had met with Marcia Rosen, but does not know how Planning can transfer the funds to Redevelopment.  Linda is looking for a pass-through agency to receive the monies and bring that to the Task Force.  David suggests not going back to the Board of Supervisors, but have Planning develop an MOU with Redevelopment for the purpose of transferring the funds between the two bodies.


8        Column in Marina Times/New Fillmore


David Ish, who recently purchased the Marina Times and New Fillmore, contacted Linda requesting that she write a column on Japantown on a monthly basis in both papers.  Mark suggests some sort of indication that the New Fillmore is not only a Fillmore neighborhood newspaper.


9.      Yoshi’s


It has been announced that Yoshi’s Jazz club will be moving to the Fillmore district on Filllmore and Eddy.


10.   Certificates of Preference


Recently Shirley Wysinger contacted the Task Force regarding the agency’s certificate program.  In the past, because community members were not able to get in contact with Harriet Starkes, (the agency personnel assigned to the program) after numerous phone calls from formerly displaced individuals, Shirley suggested sending letters on their behalf to both Redevelopment and Stuart Scheinholtz.  At this point, displaced individuals must enroll in the Certificate of Preference program with the Agency in order to obtain priority housing.  Sandy also brings up that there are senior housing opportunities coming up which certificate holders can take advantage of.  David suggests gathering all the relevant information and disseminating through such vehicles as the local newspapers.


C.    Approval of Minutes:  Meeting of September 29, 2003


Motion made and approved to accept the minutes of September 29, 2003.



D.     Committee Reports:


1.      Communications Committee:


Communications is looking at developing a 1-page glossy brochure for conventioneers.  At this point, the committee is still exploring the viability of creating and distributing such a brochure.  The most recent fall JTF newsletter has also been published and sent out.


2.      Cultural and Historical Preservation Committee:


The Historic Context Statement was approved by the LPAB.  Tim Kelley is also asking that the Task Force support his efforts to make the LPAB a commission rather than an advisory committee through a charter amendment to Article 10.


3.      Business and Economic Development Committee:


At this point, Arnold Chin is not offering the Merchants Association any money for the Koban so there is no deal yet. 


Regarding BIDs, Tak expressed concern that the Merchants may not be supportive of the idea because the BID operates on a reimbursement basis.  Linda has spoken with Kathy Sakamoto of San Jose’s Japantown, and the committee hopes to later speak with a representative from the Union Square BID to see how viable the idea is for Japantown.  There is also concern that working with the Fillmore may decrease the autonomy of the Japantown Merchants Association. 


Issues also arose within the JMA of individual merchants who are not members of the Association, yet benefit from the services they provide.  Jeff points out that security should be addressed as a neighborhood issue, not one that the merchants should solely bare since it is something that everyone benefits from.  Tak announces that a special committee with Eddie Moriguchi, Akira Minamiura, Richard Matsuno, Rich Hashimoto, and himself will be meeting to discuss the formula for JMA membership dues.  Security costs for Japantown on an annual basis are estimated at approximately $100,00, which is relatively cheap for the city.  Mark brought up the possibility of using surveillance as a means to decrease the need for security guards.  The Japan Center Garage will be soon receiving a prototype of the iParking security system.


4.      Health and Safety:


Marie Cleasby from the Sequoias joined the meeting of the Health and Safety Committee to discussed their clean up activities in Japantown and how they may work together with the Task Force.  The committee also discussed the cleanup activities of the Buchanan merchants who on a daily basis water down and clean their storefronts.  It was brought up that the committee hoped to publicize these efforts in the JTF newsletter.  Although the merchants no longer come out on Wednesdays to clean, Darryl Abantao is using the Litter Hawk to clean Japantown.  Jeff brought up that a Japantown representative was to approach AARS to see if some of their clients may be interested in working to clean up the Buchanan Mall.


The need for countdown lights also came up at the meeting particularly at Sutter and Webster and Post and Webster.  The committee also pointed out the need for flashing lights at the pedestrian crossing on Sutter St. in front of Hinode Towers.


E.      Other Business and Announcements:


Benh brought up the issue of the tree planting ceremony.  Tak reports that people are under the wrong impression that the merchants are responsible the removal of the trees in the Buchanan Mall.  The merchants have offered to give NPC some of the cherry trees to be removed from the Peace Plaza to be planted in Buchanan Mall after the plum trees are removed.  Although Tak is a part of NPC, he was not aware that they were planning to remove the trees.  He invited Alan to explain in further detail at today’s meeting, but he was unable to attend.  However, it has come up that the contractor, John Nishizawa will not be using the trees from the Peace Plaza.  Because there is no tree and no plaque prepared for the event, further questions arose about what would occur.  Tak provides this explanation; Japan Week, which runs from October 27-November 9 is a celebration of 150 years of US-Japan relations.  To celebrate this occasion, the Consul General’s office decided to plant cherry trees.  Upon hearing of the removal of trees in Buchanan, the Consul General’s office decided to work with NPC to celebrate the occasion at the Buchanan Mall.  The merchants association however, is concerned that there will be no trees to decorate for the holiday season.  At this point John Nishizawa and Rumi Okabe are discussing the possibility of having new cherry trees planted by early December so that the merchants can decorate them.  The Mayor’s Neighborhood Beautification Fund is paying for the cost of the trees. 


Seiko reports that the tree removal and plating has been an ongoing effort of the Friends of the Buchanan Mall.  After the fountains were refurbished, the Friends decided that the trees should also be replaced since they were nearing the end of their lives.  A discussion was held at the former Task Force office with Seiko and landscape architect Bob Tanaka on this issue.  Seiko is concerned about the Task Force’s approach to the situation, which she felt was inappropriate especially given the recent deaths in Allen and Rumi’s families and the involvement of the Consul General.  Concern also arose around the email sent on behalf of the Task Force without consultation of all board members. Tak states that the merchants and the Task Force members are concerned because no notification was received regarding this activity.  Sandy adds that there was no communication mechanism which allowed various segments of the community to get together to discuss what was going to happen to the Buchanan Mall. 


Issues also came up around the use of email copies being sent out to various parties who may interpret what is said out of context.  As the copies are sent out, they may be seen as gossip, and may only worsen the situation.


On a separate issue, Jeff was named to the redevelopment WA-A2 CAC.  Jeff will request that the position be slotted for the Japantown community or the Task Force.


Finally, Tak announces that the Cherry Blossom Festival Executive Committee is looking for a chair.


F.      Next Meeting:


Executive: Monday, November 17 @ 6:30

Board: Monday, November 27 @ 6:00

Preservation: Friday, November 21 @ noon

Health and Safety: Tuesday, November 18 @ 6:30

Business and Economic Development: TBA

Communications: TBA