JTF, Inc. Board Meeting

1765 Sutter Street, Conference Room

October 28, 2002 at 6 -8:00 p.m.



Attendees:     Sheila Chung, Doug Dawkins, Seiko Fujimoto, Colin Gomez, David Ishida, Caryl Ito, Mark Moriguchi, Tak Matsuba, Benh Nakajo, Jon Osaki, Rosalyn Tonai


Guests:     Tim Kelley (Landmarks Advisory Board), Olivia Swilley (Mayor’s office), Alan Woolman (resident), Shiz Mihara (Kinmon Gakuen board president), Nob Mihara, JK Yamamoto (advisory), Cathy Inamasu (Nihonmachi Little Friends, executive director)


Excused:  Jeff Mori, Mariko Watanabe


Absent:     Bob Otsuka, Pat Shiono



A.  Recognition of Quorum


B.   Approval of minutes: Minutes of September 23, 2002 approved as submitted


C.  Proposition B-“No” Presentation-Janan New (cancelled)


D.  Presentation from Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board President, Tim Kelley

      Tim Kelley is the president of the Landmarks Commission. Kelley came to give an update since the last public hearing held a month and a half ago. Currently, the Landmarks Preservation Board is in its preliminary stages of identifying historic properties within Japantown, within the framework of historic preservation which they think help convey the story of Japantown and the Japanese community in San Francisco. A draft context statement (statement that narrates the history of the Japanese community in San Francisco) was prepared at the last meeting.  Kelley is the principal author. In anticipation to community concerns and questions, Kelley brought a two-page handout. The Landmarks Preservation Board is an appointed body of nine, charged with conceiving and directing historic preservation efforts by the city. It is only an advisory committee, so acts through Planning Commission and ultimately Board of Supervisors. For 35 years of landmark preservation activity, it has been concerned with architectural monuments (for eg. Downtown buildings, Pacific Heights mansions). They believe and original legislation mandates that it should also be concerned with recognizing and telling the history of San Francisco as reflected in the physical planning of San Francisco. History is made of many smaller histories, including  the Japanese community. The landmarks board is concerned with redirecting cultural and historical landmarks. Designated African American and Gay and Lesbian landmarks are actively moving in that direction. A City Landmark is a property found to convey something historically or culturally important to the city, which is designated by a particular, individual ordinance, which goes through the board of supervisors.  There is another category of historic district inwhich the procedure is the same. A historic district is a larger area that contains buildings and structures and within the district, there are some buildings that are designated as contributing and non-contributing – essentially contributing structures are treated as landmarks. Designated landmark structures or “structures that are contributing” within historic district requires Landmarks Board approval of any work that would alter the exterior appearance, which is done through a certificate of appropriateness, triggered by the application of a permit. To have an alteration of the exterior of a landmark building would require an extra step through the Landmarks Board. Kelley explains one of the handouts which is a set of 10 rules that were promulgated by Secretary of the Interior – Federal standards written for property on the national register which were adopted by the Landmarks Board as universal excepted standards with alteration, changes to a historic building. Kelley explains benefits of being a landmark – 1) gives owners access to the use of state historic code which trunks local code, more permissive in being able to simply retain something that has worked for the building for 100 years, protects ability to keep as is and not to have to update it; 2) tax credits available to historic buildings for rehabilitation work; few forms including one to do a large rehabilitation project, donating historic easement – the property owner gives control of appearance of façade and exterior to certified, historic care keeper organization in return receiving income tax deduction for a percentage of the market value of the proper; 3) Mill’s Act which is a state legislation with local options (San Francisco does participate) – offers tax relief in the form of property tax, which would be reduced in period of at least ten years. Kelley expressed that the benefit of landmarking comes in public relations, fundraising and simply community pride. Kelley asked for community support.


      Linda stated that there were two subsequent meetings with the Landmarks Board. She expressed concern with seeing two buildings in the community to be landmarked – Kinmon Gakuen and Hokubei Mainichi because it was understood that they were not contacted. Linda introduced Mrs. Mihara, president of the board at Kinmon Gakuen, J.K. Yamamoto, reporter at Hokubei Mainichi and Cathy Inamasu of Nihonmachi Little Friends. She invited Cathy to come because many have contacted Linda saying the “Y” should be landmarked. Linda is concerned with the lack of community input, and would like to have several meetings throughout the community in order to get adequate community input and what they think. Suggested that Kelley goes to the Boards of the buildings. She questioned to Kelley, “What if they don’t want to be landmarked?” Kelley responded by stating that The LPAB has the legal authority to do it without the owner’s consent. But stated he would not do it to a community organization.


      Caryl stated that she feels one of the roles of the Task Force is to provide information to the community and be a conduit for representatives from this city and county, who may not be familiar with the infrastructure of several organizations. She believed that they needed to bridge the gap of what their individual plans may be for the buildings, benefits and cost side. The nonprofits may be at different stages, whether they want to make modifications. Caryl stated that it would be helpful for the Landmarks board to know what is going on with the boards of the buildings. Kelley responded to Caryl, stating he would be happy to meet with the boards.


      Linda asked who Kelley was working with on the historical statement. Kelley responded that he would work with anybody who would work with him. Currently he was not working with anyone, except Jerry Takano. Caryl asked what Takano’s role was. Kelley responded that Takano is a preservationist. His mission is to present community history within the framework of historic preservation. A particular point is to identify a link to the history and the physical, built environment. Caryl asked for clarification on Takano’s role, particularly for Rosalyn Tonai who had been on maternity leave.


      Rosalyn stated that she had first introduced this to the Task Force through e-mail and through Judi Nihei. Essentially, it was to make sure Japantown was on the map in terms of any sort of discussion on historic preservation. Judi spoke with and conducted a tour with Kelley. Gerald came into the picture as someone who was interested in Japantown, particularly in historic preservation and specifically around historic districting as a concept. Rosalyn stated that there is a new principal of how to preserve a community and decide what are the historic boundaries of a community. She said there is a new definition and it is important for the community to interpret how to designate what is historic.  The two buildings and the “Y” were brought up in discussion, but because the ownership of the “Y” was still up in the air, they did not want to approach them. Caryl asked Rosalyn if she and her board were then going to approach the board of Kinmon Gakuen, but Rosalyn replied that they were only there as advisors. Kelley stated that active religious properties are difficult to reach.


      Sheila commented that it would be great to hear about the process, timeline and what some of the restrictions are by having workshops in the community. She wanted to figure out what the Task Force’s role could be and how to develop a clear timeline on this. She asked Kelley how he thinks they (Task Force) can help. Kelley responded that he agreed that there should be a community process. Procedural difficulties to have public meetings due to Landmarks Board governed by legislation, staff availability and finding an evening  make it difficult.


      Caryl thinks that they have moved ahead, but need to take a few steps back in this process. Sheila asked after the context statement, what would happen next?  Kelley responded that the context statement would identify likely properties that are related or associated with the district. The statement needs to be refined and amplified. Looking for help from the community to be amplified and refined, which would in term identify and perhaps confirm first choices for significant buildings. Once they get there, they need to decide whether they are going to nominate historic buildings or historic district.


      Sheila proposes that the Task Force helps Kelley with public comment on the context statement and also help out to host public meetings in order to bring together all organizations in Japantown to explain what it means to be a preserved landmark. Organizations that want to come forward or buildings to come forward can do so. Sheila volunteered to help out.


      Caryl asked if members of the board from Kinmon Gakuen and Hokubei would comment on how the Task Force can help them or any other comments. Cathy commented that they would be open to hear more about being a historic landmark. Kelley responded that the “Y” qualified architecturally. Cathy responded to Sheila’s question stating that they (the board) would most likely form a committee to discuss this issue. Mrs. Mihara commented that the Kinmon Gakuen board has no knowledge of what is going on and strongly urge the Landmarks Board to attend a meeting with them.


      David asked Kelley if they had a goal with working with other communities in San Francisco, if there’s anything written what their goals, values are in terms of working with communities, and then giving people structure so people can consistently approach you or you approach them. The board adopted a resolution and goals in direction of working with ethnic communities. This public process does not exist on a piece of paper. David suggested to bring this back to the Landmarks Board, and he would be supportive if they were to adopt principles that talked about respecting community empowerment and processes so there appears a two-way street. This would create trust. Linda also suggested that if there is a question/answer session when talking to Kinmon Gakuen (she listed several questions that may arise), and to do it in English as well as in Japanese. Stated that Task Force can help with that, so that the information in accurate.


      Colin asked whether there can be a historic district without any buildings being a historic landmark. Kelley responded that yes, there can be a historic district without any buildings landmarked, but will be identified as contributing to the district. Colin asked what the benefits and disadvantages of being a historic district without a historic landmark. Kelleyy responded that historic district would give control to what happens in between in that area. Not simply to the contributing buildings, but also to new construction in the district. Doug asked if it implies there is another controlling mechanism that’s community-based in a board or a historical….Kelley said that has not been the case. Colin asked if there would be a conflict with redevelopment. Kelley responded that Redevelopment can exempt itself and its properties from these controls.


      Behn said that there are some of the board members of Hokubei are aware of the news that Hokubei is on the list as a historical landmark. Officially, there has been no news or communication from the Landmarks Board directly regarding this matter. Behn will speak to the president of the board and said the board would most likely be open to speaking with Kelley on this issue.


      Caryl stated that next steps would be for Kelley to contact and meet with the boards of Hokubei, Kinmon Gakuen and Nihonmachi Little Friends. Also, the Task Force, as Sheila has suggested, continue communication and facilitate workshops with the boards. David said that he would like to review the community plan and share them again for Kelley. Caryl also stated that following David’s suggestion, to get a follow-up of the bigger Landmarks Board in terms of policy statement and how they proceed with other communities, not only Japantown. Kelley will go through Linda to continue communication.


E.   Chair’s Report


Board Retreat 11-2-02:

      Jan Masaoka, executive director of Compasspoint will meet with the Task Force board and advisory board at the retreat on Nov. 2 from 2 p.m. to 6p.m. Caryl asked whether everyone was able to attend, highly recommended that everyone comes. Nov. 2 was the most popular date in terms of people’s availability and Jan’s ability. Jon commented that his agency will also have a retreat and he will try and make it. Linda commented that this was important not only for the plan to be more specific, but also for funder – must start working on strategic planning, which the entity has not come up with yet.


Fundraising Committee:

Linda said the Task Force needs to start working on fundraising. Maybe meet with Jeff to try and figure out some dates.


Ben Kobashigawa’s application for advisory board;

Caryl stated that Ben Kobashigawa applied for advisory board and just need action on this. She stated that Ben has been helpful especially with providing interns and working on the database. Linda noted that Ben can get a mini-grant from his dean to work on the database so that he can physically work on it and Task Force can pay Yoko to specifically work on it.


Motion passed and Ben accepted onto advisory board. 


F.   Staff Report


Japan Center Garage Corp. Contract Update:

Linda reported that the Japan Center Garage Corporation board passed contract with the Task Force. $70,000 would go to operations at Task Force, $20,000 for capital improvement in the form of signage and $10,000 to fiscal agency. What was agreed upon was to develop signage off the major freeway exits and bridge, much like Chinatown. Also to look at where the directional signs are located in the major thoroughfares that lead to Japantown. There are some signs that are pointing in the wrong direction. Seiko brought to attention that the signs are incorrect (6 roofs) and should be 5 roofed pagodas. Linda also noted that communication with Bond Yee to discuss other signage.


Extension of SFRA Contract to December 1st, 2002:

Amendment of extension of SFRA contract was approved.


D & O Insurance:

Linda filled out application forms for the insurance. Great American Insurance seems the cheapest.


501 (c) 3 filing status:

Had Dean Ito Taylor of APILO look over final answers to IRS agent to questions regarding applicationl. Awaiting for IRS response.


Update on 1600 Webster:

Inside has been gutted. Starting to knock down walls on the parking lot side. Olivia from Mayor’s office has been helpful regarding concern over rats. In talking with McInerney, the Mayor’s office of Neighborhood Services is responsible for eradicating rats prior to demolition.


G.  Committee Reports


Communication Committee – Seiko:

 Seiko reported that the database and newsletter was discussed at the Communication Committee meeting. A mock copy of the newsletter was also shown to the committee, and will also be on the website. Seiko noted that not many visitors to the website. Roz noted that the website address should be on the letterhead. Seiko will translate the newsletter in Japanese (only a summary).



H.   Other Business and Announcements


 Behn is concerned with the lack of information and urgency regarding the murder of Tony Chan. He asked if there is any other information anyone knows regarding this incident. Feels that there is a need for pressure to the owners of the parking lot, to find some movement. Alan Woolman, resident of Japantown had called the police the early morning of Sunday morning. He had heard three shots fired. Has been dealing with Jim Yaneshiro at Okamoto regarding problems with the parking lot. Within three years, he stated that there had been 4 murders and one rape within two blocks of where he lived. Most events occur between 2 and 3 a.m., and feels that problems come from Sonic. What Alan can only think of solutions which include for Sonic to cut back on the hours drinks are sold and the hours it is opened. Has been dealing with NPC since Kenneth Haramoto was killed several years ago. Wanted NPC to put a gate, but apparently it costs $16,000. Behn said that there seems to be no progress between talks between NPC. Linda had called Captain Cashman and was concerned with the hours between 1 and 3 a.m. He said they would talk to Sonic. Linda stated the more phone calls received from the community, the better. She also stated that Captain Cashman would give have patrol at night. Seiko noted that it has not occurred, and also asked Tak if they are members of the Merchant’s Association. They are not, according to Tak. Alan noted that there is a way to restrict hours of alcohol served. Behn also wanted to put onto the table, Nan Restaurant, and thinks this is also an issue. Linda suggested forming a committee to address concerns to Captain Cashman and perhaps to the nightclub owners. Seiko asked to see if Task Force can get together with NPC to work together on these issues. Behn also agreed to meet with NPC.