Deciding What’s “Appropriate” for Japantown: Here’s What the First Better Neighborhood Project Meeting Looked Like

Community organizer Julian Davis was on hand at last night’s Better Neighborhood Project meeting put on by San Francisco’s Planning Department, you know, the one where it’s been preordained that There Shall Not Be Any More Highrises in Japantown. Anyway, he’s more optimistic than I am about the whole process.

Basically, San Francisco Government, the people who brought us Redevelopment, the people who tore down perfectly good houses (or “drafty old Victorians,” in their words, back in the day), the people who still haven’t apologized for that, the people who messed up Japantown big time with the whole concrete and clay and general decay motif, well, they’re back and they have a Plan.

Now, if you want to affect the plan, you need to be part of the leadership element of an area “community group.” It doesn’t matter all that much how many people are in your group, but you’re going to need a title and a group name to matter. If that’s not the case, then the best you can hope for is a chance to voice an out-of-the-box idea that’s slightly novel or crazy enough to work.

But I’ll tell you, the big decisions have already been made.

Here are the final ten minutes of last night’s meeting on Sutter, with three kind-0f focus group leaders offering feedback on what the audience members were saying. (Don’t mind the alarmingly loud iPhone buzzing at the end…)

Anything that the Planning Department has decided that’s not appropriate for this particular part of the Western Addition (like young people from South Korea, or China, or Taiwan opening up businesses on or near Post Street or a taller building (you know, one that could actually pay for itself and Other Things Too) that could block the view of that horrible Peace Pagoda*) is considered contagion. Oh well.

Click to expand

On It Goes…

*I looked it up once and that Peace Plaza pagoda thing actually is Ur-Japanese, it actually is just like some stuff that was all over part of the southern part of Japan’s biggest island, but it seems more Pan-Asian or Chinese to most Japanese people that see it. They don’t recognize it as anything Japanese at all. This concrete thing is the Vaillancourt Fountain of the West Side.

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