JTF Board Meeting

November 24, 2003 @ 6:00 p.m.

1765 Sutter St.




A.    Director’s Report:


1.      Adrian Jackson, from the Buchanan YMCA is the director of the Safe Haven

program which provides tutoring and enrichment programs for youth between the ages of 10 and 18.  Jackson hoped to work jointly with the Japantown community and the Task Force through such programs as the Keep J-town Clean program.  Connections were also suggested with both the JCCCNC and the JCYC youth.  Kathy Reyes also announces that Fred Hoshiyama, who was active in Japantown and the Buchanan YMCA is trying to put together a gathering of “old timers” who were a part of the Y in the ‘50s.


2.      MTA Citizens Advisory Committee


The Task Force has recommended the appointment of Michael Gowe, attorney with Fitzgerald, Abbott and Beardsley, LLP and Japantown resident to the Citizens Advisory Committee for the Geary Corridor Transit Study.  Linda has contacted Wil Din of CCDC that the Task Force is supporting his appointment. 


3.   Housing Element of the General Plan


Linda reports that Daryl Higashi is willing to discuss the Housing Element with the Board at the next meeting of the Task Force.


4.   Signage Update


Signs from Fisherman’s Wharf down Van Ness to Gough are next in line to be installed.  Also, the Japantown bilingual street signs should be going up in a month, and when the date is set, the Task Force will work on setting up a photo opp with DPT, the merchants, and the board.


5.   SB307 Update


Linda spoke with Steve Kawa at the Mayor’s Office of Legislative Affairs because of difficulty the Task Force has had in effectuating the SB307 resolution.  Linda met with Larry Badiner of Planning who stated he would be willing to work with redevelopment.  The Task Force will need to re-write the resolution and have Sup. Gonzalez re-introduce it for board approval to have redevelopment apply for and receive the funds since the Task Force cannot do so. 


6.   Dot Restaurant space


A gentleman named Pasqual from Savanna, LLC has called the Task Force some time ago about whether there may be space available in Japantown for a proposed Jazz club.  The Savanna Jazz Club was supposed to occupy the space on Fillmore and O’Farrell, but the deal fell through and Yoshi’s will be moving into that lot.  After space opened up at Dot Restaurant, Linda informed Pasqual of the availability and spoke with Colin and Akira about the viability of this project at that space.  Akira brought up that at a recent meeting, Brian Duskin reported that there were three candidates in line for the space, including Pasqual. 


7.      Internships


Midori Kitahashi, who has been interning from JPRN has returned from Japan and has done a great deal of work for the Task Force.  Among the projects she has worked on is a crime study based on SFPD statistics for 2001-2003.  Her last day will be December 9, 2003.


Akane Sakurai a JUCEE intern, will be working with the Task Force between February 10 and March 19, 2004.


8.      New savings/checking account with National JACL Credit Union


The Task Force will be opening a savings/checking account with the National JACL credit union who gave the Task Force a special deal with 1% checking and $100 minimum. 


9.      Meeting of the 3 Japantowns at JCCCNC


There will be a meeting of the 3 Japantowns Committee at the JCCCNC on December 1st from 10:00am to 3:00pm.  However, since Benh cannot make day meetings and has not been able to make past meetings, Linda would like to nominate another individual to attend.


B.      Report: Shirley Wysinger, SFRA


1.      In October of 2003, Mayor Brown appointed fifteen neighborhood residents, merchants, representatives from organizations, and community members to the new Western Addition Community Advisory Committee (CAC), an advisory group to the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency (SFRA).  Among those on the committee are Jeff Mori (Japantown Task Force, Inc.), Chris Hirano (Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California), Thomas Reynolds (Fillmore Merchants Association), Alex Andreas (Boom Boom Room), Palmer Sessel (Western Addition Neighborhood Association), Steve Boyack (Fillmore Center), Reverend James McCray (Jones Memorial Baptist Church), London Breed (African American Arts and Culture Complex), Jimi Harris (formerly of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services), Michael Eddings (Benjamin Franklin Middle School), and longtime community activist and resident Mary Rogers.


The committee’s responsibility it to provide community input and support as the SFRA phases out of the Western Addition A-2 project area, and is reverted back to oversight by the city Planning on December 31, 2008.  At this early stage, CAC has been going over their role and responsibilities as well as bylaws and offices. 


Shirley attended a meeting with Bob Beck representing Ed Lee of DPW, Mr. Eisner from Planning, an individual from Urban Forestry, Allan Okamoto, Rumi Okabe,
Paul Osaki, Rich Wada, and Karen Kai about the removal of trees from the Buchanan Mall.  At that meeting, the Japantown group made a presentation on how they envisioned the Buchanan Mall which includes an art piece and modifications to the rock river.  After that meeting, Paul, Allan, and another individual met with Shirley to discuss the roadmap to implement the proposed changes.  The city did inform them that a public process was the only way to achieve the goals they have set out and win approval of the city.  Shirley requested that they city down with the Task Force, community, arts commission, and CAC to help lay out the roadmap for the project.  Caryl states that she would like to schedule a meeting to clarify the details of the projects.  Shirley responds that she did bring this point up to both Allan and Paul to make sure that the community is involved in the process.  Karen reports that CCLEP is funding the artwork for the Buchanan Mall.  Prop. 40 monies will fund the resurfacing of the rock river.  NBF funds will pay for the cherry trees which went to Friends of the Buchanan Mall.  David suggests that Linda speak with Allan to get a better idea of what the plans are and the timeline to help facilitate a public meeting on the plans.  Regarding the rock river, Shirley reports that Ruth Asawa agreed at past meetings that in certain places you could shave down the rocks to form a bridge so people could walk over, but certainly not to eliminate the cobblestones or bring them up to a smooth surface.  However, Shirley adds that Allan doesn’t think the cobblestones are up to ADA standards, and if the river needs to be upgraded to compliance, that it be done so with sensitivity to the artist’s work.  Karen  reports that Allan, Rumi, Mas Murata, Rich Wada, and herself met with Ruth Asawa and her husband a month and a half ago about the proposed modifications and did not think that Ruth was opposed to it.  David suggests contacting the Mayor’s Office on Disabilities to see what the code is.  Shirley states that she will be coordinating the efforts of the various parties involved.  She also adds that NPC wants to add plaques for the origami fountains, refinish the benches, and replace the panels on the lights.  Ros states that health and safety committee can do a pass through on the rock river on ADA concerns and the cultural and historical preservation committee can address the cultural preservation aspects of the project.  Also, she expressed concern that the monument to be installed not disturb the sightline from the top of the Buchanan Mall to the Peace Plaza. 


On Saturday, December 6 at 4:00pm at Gene Suttle Plaza, the Redevelopment Agency will be dedicating the plaza and honoring the individuals whose names are inscribed in the ground.  There will also be children’s games and activities, performing clowns, and Santa Claus.  Shirley states that redevelopment looked into bringing lights into Japantown for the holidays, but because there are no trees on Post, and because half of Post is in A-1, they are not able to.


Regarding the Yoshi’s development on Fillmore and Eddy, Shirley reports that at this point, the redevelopment agency is in exclusive negotiations with Yoshi’s.  In addition to the 80 market rate housing units and office building for transport workers, there will also be a restaurant called Blue Mirror, which is reminiscent of the old Blue Mirror on Fillmore.  The agency will be making tentative loans to facilitate the entry of the businesses.  Shirley hopes that they will be able to go to the commission with a disposition agreement after the first of the year.   This project will also be previewed at the CAC.


C.    Committee Reports:


1.      Fundraising Committee


Linda reports that some board members have signed fundraising letters to various individuals connected with the Task Force in the past and have been receiving responses.  The Task Force has also received several returns on ad solicitations for the upcoming newsletter.


2.      Finance Committee


Linda reports that if the Task Force is to solely rely on the JCGC contract and if SB307 funds do not come in, the funding will run out by January 2004.  However, Linda has shifted funds from Union Bank to extend the salaries until March.  Linda has also met with Shirley to discuss two-year funding with the Redevelopment Agency.  At this point, the budget has been underexpended. 


3.      Business and Economic Development Committee


Tak welcomes the addition of Michale Gowe, a business attorney and Japantown resident to the Business and Economic Development Committee.


Regarding the Koban, because Arnold Chin offered no money, the merchants have decided that they would rather hold on to the koban.  In the meantime, the merchants may find another location for the koban.  Allan also wanted to put up the monument in the location of the koban. 


Tak attended the i-parking event and reports that the system will help fight crime in the garage.  Not only that, Linda adds that the garage has saved a great deal of money over the past month on electricity bills because the system monitors the use of the fans.  The cameras can also identify license plates to see where people are coming from and can detect suspicious movements.


4.      Health and Safety Committee


Midori compiled crime statistics for the health and safety committee and reports that crime in 2003 is higher than in 2001.  However, no violent crimes (rape, murder) have occurred in Japantown this year and crimes are down in comparison to 2002 except burglaries.


Regarding the “Keep Japantown Clean” program, Judy Hamaguchi will write an article on clean up efforts for the next issue of the newsletter.


Because Benh has not been able to make any of the three J-towns meetings, Benh requests that another JTF member take his place and attend the upcoming meeting on December 1.  Linda suggests either Sandy Mori or Kathy Reyes. 


5.      Cultural and Historical Preservation


Ros reports that the historic context statement has been approved by landmarks, and the committee hopes to put it on the agenda for the Planning Commission in January or February of next year.  The committee also discussed the creation of a matrix to identify potential members of the SB307 committee to be approved by Jeff.  They also are looking into developing the walking tour program already in operation by NJAHS to not only educate people about Japantown but to use the tours as a marketing tool. 


D.     Other Business and Announcements:


1.      Kokoro


Kokoro will be requesting over $1,000,000 in funds from the redevelopment agency to start up programs and services and will need community support in its endeavor.  Due to setbacks in construction and delays, the project has cost far more than expected.


2.      JTF office closed on Thanksgiving – November 27 & 28, 2003


The JTF staff will be closing for Thanksgiving, and meetings the month of December 2003 will be pushed back to January 2004.


E.      Next Meeting:


Executive: Monday, January 19 @ 6:30

Board: Monday, January 26 @ 6:00

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

Preservation: Friday, January 21 @ noon

Communications: Thursday, January 20 @ noon

Business and Economic Development: TBA