Posts Tagged ‘planning commission’

It’s Time for Yet Another Japantown Better Neighborhood Plan: Tonight at 6:30 PM, Public Realm/Transportation

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Today, June 27th, 2011, from exactly 6:30pm – 9:10pm, will see yet another BNP meeting for Japantown.

As with many of these kinds of meetings in the 415, the big decisions have already been made and your input is as a kind of focus group participant, you know, do you like the lighter beige or the darker beige swatch kind-of-thing.

For one thing, Chinese-Americans and Korean-Americans, who are already there in J-Town…

San Francisco’s Japantown at night:

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…have been left out of the process, by design.

Oh well.


Location: JCCCNC – Issei Memorial Hall
Time: June 27, 6:30pm – 9:10pm

  1. Japantown Landscape Vision: Install professional, well orchestrated Japan-influenced landscape vision to increase canopy, greenery and Japanese botanical species.
  2. Public Open Spaces: Use the Japantown landscape vision to enhance our central core of existing gathering spaces and create transition areas to other public open spaces.
  3. Transportation/Circulation: Leverage all city projects to fund improvements to traffic, pedestrian safety, signage and connections to adjucent neighborhoods and parks.

Community Meeting
Issei Memorial Hall @ JCCCNC
1840 Sutter Street, SF (between Buchannan & Webster Streets)
Date: June 27, 2011, 6:30-9:10 pm

Topics: Public Realm/Transportation and Circulation

Japantown Landscape Vision: Install professional, well orchestrated Japaninfluenced landscape vision to increase canopy, greenery and Japanese botanical species.

Public Open Spaces: Use Japantown landscape vision to enhance our central core
of existing gathering spaces and create transition areas to other public open spaces.
Transportation and Circulation

Leverage all city projects to fund improvements to traffic, pedestrian safety, signage
and connections to adjacent neighborhoods and parks

More deets after the jump.


Oh No, Ed Lee! Mayor Campaign Kickoff a Huge Success – Hundreds on Hand Plus Willie Brown and Rose Pak

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

(Through all of this, which is unprecedented, really, please remember: “Interim” Mayor Edwin Lee didn’t ask to be short-roped to the summit:

For her part, Pittman didn’t ask to be short-roped. As she left Camp Four at the front of Fischer’s group, Lopsang abruptly pulled her aside and girth-hitched a length of rope to the front of her climbing harness. Then, without consulting her, he capped the other end to his own harness and began to pull. She maintains that Lopsang hauled her up the slope very much against her wishes. Which begs a question: why didn’t she simply unfasten the three-foot tether connecting her to Lopsang, which would have required nothing more than reaching up and unclipping a single carabiner?

Moving on…)

Wow, today’s campaign kickoff for the Ed Lee for Mayor campaign, a Rose Pak /Willie Brown joint, went off without a hitch, with yellow-shirted “Ed Heads” heading off in all directions to gather signatures.

See? Hundreds and hundreds there were, it seemed:

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Now, is Edwin Lee into the leather scene, on this day before Pride 2011? Oh hells yes, apparently. Taste the rainbow:

And look who’s outside? It’s the leaders of the Ed Lee for Mayor campaign! See them?

Here’s a peek from the sidewalk of Mission Street through the open door. It was packed, baby:

And check it, it’s San Francisco Chronicle reporter* Rose Pak having a chat with Phil Matier. Oh hey, he’s a reporter too!

Oh, here’s what she had to say:

“‘Pretty good, eh?’ Pak said, pointing to the overflow crowd that spilled out onto the sidewalk.”

Leave us depart – almost seemed as if the volunteers were eager to hit the road. (Truth be told, there was no room inside for them to hear the nobodies who were addressing the crowd.)

Step aside Leland Yee, this race has a new front runner!

*Oops, I meant former San Francisco Chronicle reporter….

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

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

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.

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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.

It’s Been Decided: “No Highrises” Anymore for Japantown – First BNP Community Meeting Tonight

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

I don’t know, who decides that there should be no more high-rise buildings in Japantown? Like I said, I don’t know. Last I heard, high rises were on the menu…

Anyway, feel free to rubber-stamp what, apparently, has already been decided for you starting tonight.

Here’s the sked:

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The 1st Community Meeting
Wednesday, June 1
6:30 to 9:00
JCCCNC- Issei Memorial Hall
1840 Sutter Street 

* Food and Refreshments

* Japanese Interpreters will be at each meeting 

Special Guests:
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi
Planning Director John Rahaim


6:30 to 7:00      Registration and Food

7:00  to 9:00     Program
► Facilitated Breakout Sessions for Public Input
1. Community Land Use:Maintain current building heights and scale with a focus on business and residential mix — No highrises.

2. Cultural Character: Establish architectural standards to maintain the Japanese/Japanese American character of the community core.
3. Japan Center: Retain the malls’ basic scale and rehabilitate structure; support business that perpetuate Japantown’s cultural authenticity.
►Exit Interviews


Japantown “Better” Neighborhood Plan Committee Meeting Tonight – April 27, 2010

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

The saga of the Japantown BNP continues at tonight’s meeting.

“Over the next several months there will be community meetings focused on the chapters of the Draft Plan.   The purpose of these meetings will be to educate the community on the contents of the Draft Plan and get input on the recommendations in the Draft Plan. Come and give input on the community-led organization, process, and timeline.   And, learn how you can get involved and participate in improving the Draft Plan.”

How it’ll look tonight. Sometimes they have a pretty good turnout:

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Host: Japantown BNP Committee 
Location:  JCCCNC
1840 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94115 US
View Map 
When: Tuesday, April 27, 7:00PM   
Phone: 415-346-1239
Come and learn about the next phase of the Japantown Better Neighborhood Plan….the community review.

Divisadero’s Harding Theatre from the Inside – The Great Graffiti Paint Out Begins

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

So, kids come over from the East Bay just to hang out inside of the moribundhard-knock Harding Theatre at 616 Divisadero Street in the NoPA? Yes they do. (Didn’t know that.)

And do they have their own bolt cutters and padlocks to try to prevent others, such as the owners, from getting in? Yes, again, they do.

Oh well. I’ll tell you, this place is a mess, and honestly, I’d want to be on bottled air if were to spend any good amount of time inside. Anyway, the graffiti is getting painted over these days and the owners have bolt cutters and padlocks of their own so, and this is NOT a challenge  to you or nothing, it won’t be as easy to make the massive theatre your very own kiddie clubhouse going forward.

Kono eigakan wa chotto warui, ne?

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Cf. the way it looked back in aught-five.

Here’s the view from the stage:

The most giantest ORFN ever stares at the balcony:

This large cross has taken some abuse, it would seem:

No Livermore Kids Allowed. Oh well.

This is pretty much how the Harding looks from the outside:

possible future for the Harding, complete with restored theatre blade

I know that the “Save” Harding Theatre people are out there, but they can’t afford a free website from, apparently (whoops, just found it, can’t help thinking that a blog called Save Harding Theatre would show up high in a Google search, but what do I know…)

On the other side, the owners state that this place started out as a movie theatre in 1926, then it was used for live entertainment (including a show from the Grateful Dead, once), then it was legally converted into a church in 1973, and then the church operated ’til 2004. Ergo, the City’s not really losing a live theatre, en realidad.

Alls I know is that it would be nice if the place got used in some way at some point.  

It’s certainly been a hard knock life for the Harding. Signing off with the King James:

“And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.”

The Japantown “Better” Neighborhood Committee Waits for an Environmental Impact Report

Thursday, September 10th, 2009


The Japantown “Better” Neighborhood Plan Organizing (nee Steering) Committee held a meeting last night to “share information on the status of the plan and to develop effective steps to incorporate community input into the process.” 68 somber souls showed up – people expressed their opinions but it was nothing like the Chernobyl that occurred in Golden Gate Park when they tried to charge admission at Strybing Arboretum to everybody not born in San Francisco, or something.

As it looked at the JCCCNC at 1840 Sutter Street:

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Can you see some of the themes of the evening? Click to expand:

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Here’s the takeaway – the Organizing Committee is aware of a little blowback over The Plan. In the words of one attendee, “There was a feeling that these issues weren’t fully explored.” 

O.K. then, but realize that there’s no developer chomping at the bit to start digging, and there’s no Environmental Impact Report yet, and the Planning Department hasn’t assigned the 20-hour-per-week worker to get going on things, and the Board of Supervisors hasn’t voted yet, etc. So it’s all going to take a while. And The Plan will change.

Al right, what’s on the mind of The Community?

Well, parking for one thing. The Community Wants Parking during renovations and after. So, if you tear down the underground parking garage and lose 700 spaces, where is everyone going to park? What’s that you say, Transit First? Yeah, they’ve heard of that concept, but they don’t accept it. So, an inadequate parking situation will “kill the merchants of J-Town.” That’s what they’re saying.

(By the way, did you know that the Cathedral Hill Hotel (the former Jack Tar Hotel) on Van Ness is going to turn into a 550-bed hospital one of these days? Is there worry about the 2500 employees “on any given shift” stealing the parking spaces that belong to J-Town? You bet.)   

And where would the merchants go during the renovation time? Would you want to shut down Webster Street and put in temporary structures complete with running water and electricity? Would that be following the post-Loma Prieta earthquake Santa Cruz Model when businesses set up in temporary buildings? Yes. Would the developer pay for that? Maybe yes, maybe no.

And There You Have It.

Look forward for another meeting before year’s end. After that, who knows?

Come and learn about the status of the Japantown BNP Draft Plan and how to get involved in making it responsive to community needs.   The Japantown BNP Organizing (formerly Steering) Committee is hosting this community meeting to share information on the status of the plan and to develop effective steps to incorporate community input into the process.

The agenda for this meeting will include:
*   Summarizing the Draft Plan.
*   Reviewing the Planning Commission Resolution approved on June 25.
*   An update on the Planning Department’s proposed workplan and funding for the next 12-months of the plan process.
*    Getting the community involved in reviewing and improving the Draft Plan.
*   General questions.


City Hall Maternity Ward – It’s a Bouncing Baby Bike Plan!

Friday, June 26th, 2009

How many officers and members of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition were on hand last night at Room 400 in City Hall to make sure the Planning Commission properly midwifed the birth of the San Francisco Bicycle Plan?                                                                                                                                     

Well here’s two, anyway – it’s SFBC Program Director Andy Thornley and Executive Director Leah Shahum:  

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Let’s open the doors and walk into birthing room. Here’s Wade Crowfoot, San Francisco Director of Climate Protection Initiatives, making the case for certification of the Bike Plan Environmental Impact Report

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NB: “Litigant” in the previous link above  is a code word that means Robert “Crazy Rob” Anderson of District Five Diary and/or his Citizens for Adequate Review (CAR). As seen in the Wall Street Journal:


But what aboot Second Street, heh?

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On It Goes…

Japantown Different Neighborhood Plan – Informational Meeting Today at City Hall

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Japantown Redevelopment Fever – catch it today in the Civic Center. You know, this whole Different Neighborhood Plan (some people call it the Better Neighborhood Plan, others call it the Worse Neighborhood Plan) has not been without controversy – get a flavor of that at Akit’s Complaint Department and Nakayoshi Young Professionals. Here’s what the coverage has been from Curbed SF and the Socketsite. (And there are some websites with people who advocate for the BNP.)

Below are the materials that will be presented today to the Historic Preservation Commission (nee Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board) by Planner Matt Weintraub sometime this afternoon after 12:30 PM (item #9 on the calendar) at Room 400 of City Hall, 200 Polk Street.


Historic Preservation Commission Case Report, June 3, 2009 – PDF 233 kB

Japantown BNP Survey Area Map -PDF 214 kB

Historic Context Statement: Japantown, San Francisco, California PDF 8 MB

Physical Heritage Report PDF 1.6 MB

Traditional Cultural Property Evaluation Report PDF 412 kB

District Record -PDF 400 kB

Survey Findings Report PDF 736 kB


Property Evaluation – 1530 Buchanan Street -PDF 371 kB

Property Evaluation – 1745-1747 Buchanan Street -PDF 372 kB

Property Evaluation – 2018 Bush Street -PDF 408 kB

Property Evaluation – 2020 Bush Street -PDF 263 kB

Property Evaluation – 2031 Bush Street -PDF 469 kB

Property Evaluation – 2178-2182 Bush Street -PDF 479 kB

Property Evaluation – 1908-1914 Fillmore Street -PDF 385 kB

Property Evaluation – 2000-2016 Fillmore Street -PDF 330 kB

Property Evaluation – 1450 Laguna Street -PDF 474 kB

Property Evaluation – 1501 O’Farrell Street -PDF 772 kB

Property Evaluation – 2158 Pine Street -PDF 272 kB

Property Evaluation – 1646 Sutter Street -PDF 479 kB

Property Evaluation – 1745-1751 Sutter Street -PDF 334 kB

Property Evaluation – 1830 Sutter Street -PDF 618 kB

Property Evaluation – Buchanan Mall -PDF 307 kB

Property Evaluation – Japan Center PDF 5.2 MB


More deets, after the jump.


A Little Blowback for the Japantown “Better” Neighborhood Plan

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Here it comes from the We’re-from-the-Government-and-We’re-Here-to-Help-You people. Brace yourselves:

“The DRAFT Japantown Better Neighborhood Plan is ready for your review!”

O.K. then. But the problem is that some of the people involved in this process from the get-go now use the term “complete disaster” to describe it today. Let’s journey to Akit’s Complaint Department to get the reaction from Paul Osaki, Executive Director of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California. It’s under “SF Japantown Crisis” – check it out, if you want.

Tearing down those malls on Post Street  – is that a good idea? I don’t know. But keep in mind that these are the same people that sold you the “Great Street!” of Octavia Boulevard, which turned out to be a scar upon the land. (In mitigation, the Japantown “B”NP lacks the complicating factor have having architects designing like-nowhere-else-in-the-universe boulevards. Sorry, “Great Boulevards!”)

Anywho, check out the latest news and the meeting sked below, and check out the notes from a meeting with Mayor Gavin Newsom and Ross Mirkarimi after the jump. Things were so much happier back in 2007. 

See if you agree that this plan is simply “a road map for developers.”

To Be Continued.


The DRAFT Japantown Better Neighborhood Plan is ready for your review! 


After several years of analysis and community process, the Draft Plan phase is ready for your review. The Draft Plan will be presented to the Planning Commission for Commission endorsement at the end of June 2009. Prior to endorsement, we will hold two informational hearings at the Planning Commission, and one hearing at the Historic Preservation Commission. In the upcoming month, please review the Draft Plan, attend any or all of the hearings to provide feedback , and send us your comments.
You can review each chapter individually by
clicking on the links below:

Chapter 1: Introduction Acobat PDF 4 MBChapter 2: Community Heritage Acobat PDF 2.5 MBChapter 3: Community and Economic Development Acobat PDF 1.2 MBChapter 4: Land Use Acobat PDF 2.1 MBChapter 5: Built Form Acobat PDF 3.1 MB

Chapter 6: Public Realm Acobat PDF 9.1 MB

Chapter 7: Transportation and Circulation Acobat PDF 4 MB

Chapter 8: Japan Center Acobat PDF 2 MB

Chapter 9: Implementation Acobat PDF 1 MB


Japantown Better Neighborhood Plan Appendices

There are also a number of appendices referenced in the Japantown Better Neighborhood Plan. Click below to download them.

Appendix A: Japantown Opinion Survey Summary

Appendix B: National Heritage Areas

Appendix C: Historic Property Benefits Matrix

Appendix D: Community Benefit District Case Studies

Appendix E: Implementation Case Studies

Appendix F: Planning a Multi-Use Community Facility

Appendix G: Transportation and Circulation Analysis

Appendix H: Japan Center Proforma Analysis

If you would like to purchase a hard copy of the Draft Plan, they will be available beginning May 26th in the Japantown Planning Room during our office hours (2nd floor of the Miyako Mall) or at Japantown Task Force at 1765 Sutter Street. We will also have free CDs and free copies available that you can read on site.


We will present the Draft Plan to the Planning Commission in May and June to seek endorsement. Please attend to express your opinion of the Plan’s recommendations.

The Draft Japantown Plan is currently on the Planning Commission’s calendar for:

  • Thursday, May 28 (Information Only)
  • Thursday, June 4 (Information Only)
  • Thursday, June 25 (Anticipated Endorsement of Plan)

The hearings begin at 1:30 p.m. in the Commission Chambers – Room 400, San Francisco City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place. Check the Planning Commission calendar at (under “Calendars”) as the dates get closer; calendars are subject to change.

We will also present the Japantown Historic Resource Survey Findings and the Context Statement to the Historic Preservation Commission on June 3, 2009.

Want to discuss the Draft Plan or ask questions? Visit us during Office Hours in the Japantown Planning Room:

  • Monday 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • Wednesday 4:00 – 6:00 pm
  • Thursday 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

If these times don’t work for you, please schedule a different time by contacting Rosie Dudley at 415-575-9068 or via email at

Send your comments to Rosie Dudley at 1650 Mission, Suite 400 San Francisco, CA 94103 or email them to