City tight-lipped on Yoshi’s

The Fillmore Heritage Center's public spaces are empty, and no change is in sight.

The Fillmore Heritage Center’s public spaces are empty, and no change is in sight.

IN THE two-and-a-half years since Yoshi’s walked away from the jazz club and restaurant it created in the much-heralded Fillmore Heritage Center, city leaders have met and talked extensively about what should take its place.

Now they have punted.

On November 3, City Hall abruptly announced that none of the five proposals that had been submitted by potential buyers of the complex would be accepted.

“Ultimately, the proposals presented to the review panel and the city didn’t realize the cultural and economic potential of the Fillmore Heritage Center and its significance to the community to allow the process to continue,” said Joaquín Torres, the point person in the mayor’s office for the project, in an email.

So, for now, nothing will be done.

Neither Torres nor anyone else in City Hall involved in the project would discuss publicly the shortcomings of the five proposals or what might be done differently during a second round. Torres repeatedly refused to be interviewed on the record, finally issuing a brief noncommittal statement that said: “The city is currently reviewing its options to produce a beneficial and impactful opportunity for the lower Fillmore neighborhood.”

The decision to start all over again came only days after the restaurant 1300 on Fillmore — the last business operating in the complex — announced that it too would close, at least for now.

Zen garden back on again

Renowned gardeners Shigeru Namba (right) and Isao Ogura are to create the Zen garden.

Renowned gardeners Shigeru Namba (right) and Isao Ogura are to create the Zen garden.

THE ON-AGAIN, off-again plan to create a memorial Zen garden at the foot of Cottage Row — once a Japanese enclave — is back on again.

On October 19, the Recreation & Park Commission approved the garden, a memorial to the founders of Japantown.

But approval on the commission’s consent calendar came only after another attempt to derail the project by the husband-and-wife team of Bush Street residents who have doggedly opposed the garden. Mary King and Marvin Lambert both argued again that honoring only the Japanese founders leaves out many others who have lived near Cottage Row.

So far they have managed to delay the garden, which was to be created last year in honor of the 110th anniversary of the founding of Japantown after the 1906 earthquake. At the October 19 hearing, Lambert repeatedly demanded that the issue be removed from the commission’s consent calendar. He said he has created his own memorial that would include all who have lived in the neighborhood.

But commission chair Mark Buell said the issue had already been discussed in a lengthy committee hearing and that only commission members could remove an item from the consent calendar. No one did. The garden passed unanimously.

EARLIER: “Cottage Row Zen garden sparks a fight

A parking solution

Parking was blocked at 2615 California Street for years.

Parking was blocked at 2615 California Street for years.

By JOHN KAYE

I have walked the streets of Pacific Heights for years with my beloved dog, Bubba, and I have been noticing something getting worse: “No Stopping” signs are sprouting all over the streets, especially on Sacramento, Steiner and Fillmore.

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Immigration fight snares a familiar face

Luis Quiroz, a staffer at Fillmore’s Invision, is among those threatened.

Luis Quiroz, a staffer at Fillmore’s Invision, is among those threatened.

By JAYA PADMANABHAN

When 27-year-old Luis Quiroz heard the news that DACA — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program — was being rescinded, it was as though something he’d worked for all his life had been stripped away.

“I felt completely defeated,” he said.

Quiroz was born in the Mexican state of Guerrero and was brought to America when he was 6 months old. He grew up in San Diego and later moved here to attend San Francisco State University.

“My whole life has been devoted to the United States,” he said. “I know no other home. California has been my home my whole life, pretty much.”

DACA changed Quiroz’s life in two crucial ways: He found a job at Invision Optometry on Fillmore Street, which helps him pay off education expenses; and he obtained a driver’s license, which allows him unrestricted movement. DACA validated his identity.

“I could prove to the world that I was Luis Quiroz and that my birth date was the date it was and that I was a California resident,” he said.

Quiroz worried about his family living close to the Mexican border in San Diego, where there was heightened immigration enforcement activity — and he was right to worry. When Quiroz was 15, his 23-year-old brother was detained and subsequently deported. Two years after that, his father was deported. And in 2015, his mother was sent back to Mexico.

“The reason they fled Mexico in the first place was for economic opportunity, to escape violence, for a better future for themselves and their children,” Quiroz said. “As much as we want to see each other again, my parents recommend I stay in San Francisco.”

His voice thickened with emotion, Quiroz talked about a recent tragedy in his family. In March of this year, his brother, who operated a business for tourists, was assaulted and shot point-blank in front of his 4-year-old daughter.

“I currently have no way of going to Mexico, or visiting his grave, or visiting my parents or my brother’s daughter, whom I have never met,” Quiroz said. He had just finished putting together the paperwork and fee for DACA’s advanced parole, which would have enabled him to visit his family in Mexico. But now, with DACA rescinded, advanced parole is no longer an option.

“I’m very lucky to be in San Francisco, of all places,” Quiroz declared, enumerating the various resources the city has offered him.

S.F. State set up healing circles at their Dream Resource Center after the DACA announcement. San Francisco’s Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs offers advice, support and sanctuary to Dreamers. That office also provides help with DACA renewals, fee assistance and legal aid.

Dreamers like Quiroz are concerned about what might be compromised in the zeal to get Congress to pass the pending Dream Act.

“I personally feel torn about this,” Quiroz said. “This Dream Act offers relief to less than 10 percent of the undocumented population, and it excludes everyone else.”

He fears that while he would personally benefit from the bill, the larger undocumented population will be left unprotected.

“It’s like saying, ‘We get to stay, but our parents will get deported,’ ” Quiroz said.

An earlier version of this article appeared in Jaya Padmanabhan’s In Brown Type column in the San Francisco Examiner.

No Zen on Cottage Row

A PLAN TO build a Zen-style Japanese rock garden at the foot of Cottage Row has been derailed, at least for now.

In June, a committee of the Recreation and Park Commission approved the garden, which would honor the Issei generation of Japanese-Americans who founded Japantown 110 years ago after the 1906 earthquake.

But Bush Street resident Marvin Lambert, who has vehemently opposed the garden in a series of public hearings, threw a monkey wrench into the works by appealing the Planning Department’s finding that the garden would be an appropriate addition to the Cottage Row Mini Park.

Lambert’s challenge was to be heard by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission on July 19. But the sponsors of the garden pulled their project from the agenda as the meeting began.

Lambert spoke nonetheless.

“I hope we can now close the books on the proposed Cottage Row Zen Garden,” he said. “This proposal was based largely on lies, logical fallacies and other nonsense.”

Cottage Row was almost entirely occupied by residents of Japanese ancestry before they were interned during World War II. But Lambert said only the blocks east of Webster Street were historically part of Japantown. He said “faulty reasoning” was used in city documents that say otherwise.

“It’s not over,” said Paul Osaki, executive director of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center, who has spearheaded the project. “The garden proposal is not dead. It’s just in suspension.”

Osaki dismissed Lambert’s appeal as “an abuse of the system and taxpayers’ dollars.” He said supporters were returning to the Planning Department to figure out how to proceed.

“We’re going to continue on,” he said.

According to the latest count from the Rec and Park Commission, 100 nearby neighbors favor the garden; 10 oppose it.

EARLIER: “Cottage Row garden sparks a fight

Women’s clinic facing budget cuts

The Women's Community Clinic at 1833 Fillmore Street.

The Women’s Community Clinic at 1833 Fillmore Street.

FEDERAL THREATS to cut funding for health care — particularly family planning services for women — have already hit a target close to home.

The Women’s Community Clinic, at 1833 Fillmore Street, recently lost a $250,000 federal grant it had depended on for years and is now facing the biggest budget shortfall in its 18-year history.

At the same time, the financial squeeze has increased the demand for services.

“Women are streaming into the clinic for birth control and other types of care because they genuinely fear they soon won’t be able to get it,” said Tara Medve, development and communications director of the clinic. “People are in the freakout stage. There’s been a huge rise in fear and anxiety.”

The clinic is scrambling to find alternative funding sources and has launched an intensive fundraising campaign that runs through the middle of the month.

“We are doing everything we can to reassure and support our clients during this scary and uncertain time,” said Carlina Hansen, the clinic’s executive director.

The Fillmore clinic provides primary medical care and mental health care to low-income women and girls 12 and older. It currently serves about 5,000 clients each year, 90 percent of whom earn $25,000 or less. In addition to providing medical services, the clinic also runs a number of community health programs.

The administration’s proposed targets — cuts to the Affordable Care Act, Medi-Cal and especially to Title X — pose additional threats to the clinic’s ability to function. If an initiative to eliminate Title X funds takes effect, the clinic stands to lose an additional $150,000 from its operating budget, Hansen said.

The Women’s Community Clinic has  launched an emergency campaign to raise $250,000 from individuals, foundations and corporate sponsors by April 14. For more information, visit the clinic’s website.

The loneliness of being black in San Francisco

Signs on the long-shuttered Muni substation on Fillmore Street.

Signs on the long-shuttered Muni substation on Fillmore Street. New York Times photo.

By THOMAS FULLER
The New York Times

Gerald Harris was walking along Ocean Beach, the blustery coastline at the western edge of the city, when he passed Danny Glover, a star of Hollywood action movies and a San Francisco native. The men exchanged glances.

“We were the only two black people in the area,” Mr. Harris said.

San Francisco was once a national beacon of African-American culture, home to a thriving jazz scene that had so many clubs it was known as the Harlem of the West. But these days, blacks say they take notice when they see another African-American in affluent and middle-class neighborhoods.

The jazz clubs of the Fillmore neighborhood have been replaced with upscale shops. Marcus Books, a cultural anchor of the black community and one of the first bookshops in the nation to focus on African-American topics, closed in 2014. Other black landmarks that have long since disappeared are commemorated with remembrances embedded in the sidewalk like tombstones to a forgotten culture.

Read more

Hello from the other side

WHEN SHE’S NOT at her day job in a medical office near Fillmore, singer-songwriter Candace Roberts can often be found on the stage or in a cabaret.

Her recent music video, “Hello Ed Lee” — an adaptation of Adele’s mega-hit “Hello” — is a plaintive cry to the mayor of San Francisco about what she calls “a tale of two cities, and not the book, but reality.” Over images of street tents housing the homeless, she sings: “Oh this city is filthy rich, yet there’s crisis in the streets.”

Hello Ed Lee” follows Roberts’ 2014 video, “Not My City Anymore,” which strikes a similar theme.

Conversation with a cop

CRIME WATCH | CHRIS BARNETT

Lt. Ed Del Carlo, all 6 feet 6 inches of him, rises out of his chair in a gritty windowless office inside the fortress-like Northern Station on Fillmore Street and extends a welcoming hand the size of a catcher’s mitt. In his other hand are 32 police reports from the day before. The 25-year veteran of the San Francisco Police Department doesn’t try to whitewash the situation: Crime is mushrooming citywide — and it’s worse in the Fillmore.

Lt. Ed Del Carlo

Lt. Ed Del Carlo

“The big growth trend is property crime. But no longer is it only drug dealing addicts who break into cars to steal a laptop, a smart phone, an iPad or any electronic device they can fence within minutes at 7th and Market,” he says. “We’re seeing more sophisticated, more violent criminals who’re coming in from the East Bay, Sacramento, the Central Valley and the Peninsula because they know if they get arrested, chances are they won’t do any jail or prison time.”

The neighborhood crime surge is affecting both residents and retailers, and criminals are more brazen. This year, thieves drove a stolen car through the front glass  door of the Marc Jacobs fashion boutique at Fillmore and Sacramento around 4 a.m., looted its merchandise and were gone in an estimated five minutes. And twice this year, the glass door of the MAC makeup shop on Fillmore near Pine was shattered in the early morning hours and the shelves were cleaned of expensive skin creams. In the summer, thieves smashed the glass front door of Dino and Santino’s restaurant at Fillmore and California and carted off the cash register.

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Cathedral Hill tower pushes height limits

Rendering of ADCO's proposed tower at 1481 Post Street.

A rendering of ADCO’s proposed tower at 1481 Post Street.

By FRAN MORELAND JOHNS

It may be a sleek luxury high-rise condominium bringing new life to Cathedral Hill. Or it may be a code-violating, too-tall tower adding traffic, wind, noise, parking and shadow nightmares — and opening the door for more spot zoning across the city.

New York developer ADCO Group’s plan to build a 36-story residential tower at 1481 Post Street is drawing mounting concern and opposition from nearby residents. The project is expected to come before the Planning Commission in late September.

The building would replace an above-ground parking structure, fitness center and tennis courts that adjoin Cathedral Hill Plaza apartments at Post and Gough, which ADCO also owns and plans to remodel. The new tower would rise to 416 feet, requiring an exception to the 240-foot height limit the city planning code sets for the site.

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