ONE NEIGHBOR’S PERSPECTIVE ON THE PROPOSED DCCC RESOLUTION
APRIL 13 DCCC MEETING INCLUDES PIAZZA ST. FRANCIS ISSUE ON AGENDA
WHERE: 455 Golden Gate Avenue, Milton Marks Auditorium
WHEN: 7:00 pm (please arrive earlier)
At the public February meeting at Tel-Hi, the 200+ members of the community--including a dissenting majority--were assured that two subsequent meetings would be held by the developers (on 24 March and 14 April) to resolve the disparity between the developers' vision and business/residential concerns and wishes. Both of those meetings have been cancelled by the developers with no rescheduled meetings offered. Moreover, the community was not widely advised that the developers had instead decided to meet with the DCCC, the City's very powerful central Democratic committee.
We concerned residents of the area to be affected by the proposed development have requested innumerable times to be included in this process, only to be ignored and to have meetings arranged without proper notice. This recent step to include not the community, but rather to appeal to the city-wide Democratic Party, exposes the disinterest the developers have in community involvement and compromise, even as they sell their project as a communal space of peace. We feel ignored, patronized, and frustrated that the wishes of those who live and work there are being overshadowed by the designs of people who do not.
Two important points, then, are that the DCCC's stated Purpose in its by-laws indicate nothing about them having a pertinent role in deciding this, and that the language of the proposed developers' DCCC resolution is flawed in several ways. First, the DCCC's declared Purpose and relevant by-law:
Section 2. PURPOSE
a. The goal of the SFDCCC is to educate voters on issues of importance to our society, to maximize Democratic voter registration and turnout in all communities, and to support and ensure the electoral victory of Democratic candidates who uphold the values of the Democratic Party.
b. These Bylaws shall govern the organization, operation, and functions of the political party known as the San Francisco Democratic Party (The Party) and the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee (SFDCCC).
c. The SFDCCC may endorse partisan and nonpartisan primary and general candidate elections and may take positions on all local ballot measures.
The DCCC is not a City agency, does not speak for or act on behalf of the City, and cannot transact City business. But the DCCC may discuss matters that could fall within the subject matter jurisdiction of the Board of Supervisors.
THE LANGUAGE OF THE PIAZZA RESOLUTION:
In the developers' legalese call for a resolution (included below), several points are exaggerated or erroneous:
* It claims that they have "engaged in numerous public meetings with more than 1,000 neighborhood supporters, and for that reason has earned the numerous endorsements of
merchants, community non-profits, cultural and civic leaders..."
In fact, only one public meeting in the last 6 months has been hosted solely by the developers, and it was designed as a showcase of plans, not as a community involvement-style meeting. It was only after developer Angela Alioto, who has never lived in North Beach, shouted to the whole crowd: "I'VE BEEN TO WEDDINGS, BAPTISMS, AND FUNERALS HERE, AND I'M MORE NORTH BEACH THAN ALL OF YOU!" that the floor was opened to Q & A. The other February meeting was held at Tel-Hi, moderated by a neutral party and by Supervisor Peskin, and it suggested that well over half of the 200+ attendees were opposed to the piazza as proposed on the grounds of safety, traffic, and lack of community input.
* It claims that the proposal "fulfills this need," but the statement never identifies what this need is. See the statement below (second "WHEREAS"). This is an accessory project, not a necessity.
* It claims that there are "over 1000 neighborhood supporters." This is misleading because this number is taken from an international online petition signed largely by people who neither live nor work in North Beach; in fact, many don't even live in San Francisco.
*It claims that it has the support of numerous merchants and neighborhood associations. What it neglects is that The Piazza St. Francis DOES NOT HAVE SUPPORT FROM THE NORTH BEACH BUSINESS ASSOCIATION (NBBA), THE TELEGRAPH HILL DWELLERS (THD), NOR FROM THE ARCHDIOCESE WHO HAS WRITTEN TWO OFFICIAL LETTERS REQUESTING THAT THEY CEASE TO BE MISREPRESENTED. THEY REFUSE TO SUPPORT ANYTHING THAT ALTERS THEIR PARKING OR EXISTING STRUCTURE, OR THAT ISN'T FULLY FUNDED, INCLUDING FOR FUTURE MAINTENANCE. MOREOVER, THE DEVELOPER DOES NOT HAVE SUPPORT FROM MANY LOCAL BUSINESSES.
* It calls neighborhood concerns "needless obstructionism." This is how those concerned about traffic, basic safety, character and neighborhood input have been characterized by the developers: as obstructionists "living under a rock" (these are Ms. Alioto's oft-repeated words). It is insulting, especially since THOSE OPPOSED TO THE ORIGINAL PIAZZA DESIGN HAVE ENGAGED A LOCAL LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT TO PROPOSE AN ALTERNATIVE DESIGN THAT INCORPORATES MUCH OF THE ORIGINAL DESIGN'S FEATURES WHILE ALLOWING FOR TRAFFIC FLOW AND OPTIMUM EMERGENCY ACCESS.
Finally, this resolution is not at all in concert with the DCCC's self-definition on its website:
The San Francisco Democratic Party is the official organization for Democrats in the City and County of San Francisco. With more than 250,000 members, we represent one of the most active community of Democrats in California.
Governed by the Democratic County Central Committee, the San Francisco Democratic Party has a permanent office in San Francisco's Financial District, a full-time staff, and hundreds of active volunteers. We advance our goals through several ongoing programs:
VOTER REGISTRATION. Throughout the year, the San Francisco Democratic Party works hard to register Democrats throughout the city and county. Our volunteer force registered over 4,000 new voters in 2014!
VOTER OUTREACH. Our grassroots volunteers and activists reach out to local voters, providing information on endorsed candidates and motivating Democratic supporters to vote. We also coordinate with the state party to participate in important races near us. We generated over 20,000 calls in support of Congressman Ami Bera in his 2014 race, which came down to just over 3,000 votes and allowed us to keep a Democrat in this hotly contested seat.
ENDORSEMENTS. The San Francisco Democratic Party makes endorsements for each election to inform Democratic voters about the candidates and ballot measures we consider most worthy of support.
CHARTERED DEMOCRATIC CLUBS. A major component of San Francisco's grassroots organizing are Chartered Democratic clubs and organizations. There are currently over thirty Democratic clubs and organizations active in San Francisco.
FUNDRAISING & INFRASTRUCTURE. The resources to accomplish our goals come from our local supporters in San Francisco. We raise funds to support our annual voter registration efforts and voter outreach efforts and to ensure that we have the resources necessary to elect Democrats at the local, state and national level
BELOW IS THE AGENDA ITEM, AND THE RESOLUTION PROPOSED BY THE DEVELOPERS:
The DCCC April meeting agenda item reads: "Resolution: Piazza Saint Francis. (Hsieh) Discussion and possible action on resolution to support the creation of the Piazza Saint Francis in North Beach, and calling upon city leaders and departments to act quickly and efficiently to establish the piazza as a community and cultural space.
Proposing a resolution which reads:
"WHEREAS, there has been a nine year movement and desire in North Beach from neighbors, local merchants, city historians, and community activists to create a “Poets Plaza” on the 600 block of Vallejo Street between Grant Avenue and Columbus; and
WHEREAS, a community project, that is environmentally innovative and a non-profit called “Piazza Saint Francis, The Poet’s Plaza” fulfills this need by creating a small and unique open space in North Beach that honors peacemakers and poets, nestled in a historic Italian-American San Francisco neighborhood; and
WHEREAS, the Piazza Saint Francis will be a critical part of enriching North Beach’s unique culture, celebrating the Italian-American immigrant history of San Francisco, honoring the progressive and artistic roots of the neighborhood, and has also engaged in numerous public meetings with more than 1,000 neighborhood supporters, and for that reason has earned the numerous endorsements of merchants, community non-profits, cultural and civic leaders;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, The San Francisco Democratic Party fully supports the creation of the Piazza Saint Francis; and,
FURTHER THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the San Francisco Democratic Party calls upon Mayor Ed Lee, the Board of Supervisors, and relevant City Departments to act quickly and efficiently to move forward with the creation of Piazza Saint Francis, and stop needless obstructionism and delays around an important community and cultural space.
Co-sponsored by: Tom A. Hsieh, Kat Anderson, Josh Arce, Zoe Dunning, Joel Engardio, Mary Jung, Marjan Philhour, Rebecca Prozan, Trevor McNeil.