Celebration Opens Japantown Community Benefit District

As of this week, Japantown is San Francisco’s newest Community Benefit District (CBD).

In a ceremony yesterday, District 5 Supervisor London Breed and Mayor Ed Lee welcomed the Japantown CBD before a crowd of community members and local business owners.

In a statement released earlier this year, Mayor Lee applauded the efforts of the neighborhood to celebrate its cultural heritage.

"The Japantown Community Benefit District is an important milestone for the preservation and celebration of the Japanese American community in this city," he said.

Crowds celebrated the official opening of the Japantown CBD on Wednesday.

Community members gathered at the Japantown Peace Plaza to celebrate as Breed and Lee participated in a traditional Japanese sake barrel-opening ceremony.

The crowd was also treated to a performance by students of Nihonmachi Little Friends, a bilingual childcare center based in Japantown.

Wednesday’s ceremony marks the 15th CBD established in San Francisco since 2005.

Also known as Business Improvement Districts, CBDs aim to improve the quality of life in "targeted commercial districts and mixed-use neighborhoods," according to the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD).

The specific goals of each CBD vary, but primarily focus on public safety, maintenance, beautification, and marketing. Projects are funded by an assessment paid by property owners in the district.

Mayor Lee and Supervisor Breed participate in a sake barrel-opening ceremony.

As we reported earlier this year, the Japantown CBD was established in July after local property owners voted to approve its creation.

It was a result of over 10 years of planning by the Japantown CBD Steering Committee, set up by the Japantown Task Force in 2006.

"San Francisco Japantown continues to share its rich history and culture to all that have made this community their home," said Alice Kawahatsu, president of the Japantown Task Force, "as well as all who come to visit from near and far."

The Japantown CBD spans seven blocks—centered around the historic businesses at Post and Buchanan Streets—and includes the Japan Center Malls and Hotel Kabuki.

Japantown's historic center. | Photo courtesy of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development

A list of San Francisco’s current CBDs reveals that most CBDs have an initial term of ten to 15 years, with allocated budgets ranging from $258,000 (Noe Valley) to more than $3.5 million (Union Square).

According to the OEWD, the new Japantown CBD will raise roughly $400,000 in assessments for services focusing on "environmental and economic enhancements to the district; including graffiti removal, pressure washing, marketing, and beautification improvements."

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Celebration opens japantown community benefit district