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Archive for the ‘City politics’ Category

During the Gold Rush, San Francisco was known as a place of debauchery: greed, gambling, brothels and crime. An early Las Vegas, if you will. Today, San Francisco is known as a place of peace and love: cultural diversity, social acceptance, progressive ideals, and urban environmentalism. The most European of American cities, many call it.

The Republican right-wing would like to take us back 150 years, to the glory days. We’re soon to hear a vintage tune from the top of Capitol Hill, with the words “San Francisco Values” used as a disparaging term – you know, the ‘values’ of those ‘tree-huggers’, ‘gays’ and ‘sinners’.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported today that the Republican Spin Machine has already begun cycling the phrase into it’s talking points and daily jabber, in expectation that Nancy Pelosi is soon to be Speaker of the House. “Watch Out,” they warn. “She’s bringing with her her ‘San Francisco Values’, and you know what that means.” This is my favorite quote from the article, from the editorial pages of the Augusta Chronicle:

“Pelosi will be speaker and her far-left San Francisco values — gay marriage, cutting and running from Iraq, coddling terrorists, raising taxes, amnesty for illegals — will become the House agenda.”

Coddling terrorists? Oh, dear.

Clairblogience has an interesting take on this new slur. Read: “Hollywood Liberal Elite” Vs. “San Francisco Values”

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Arts Forum exists to lift arts and culture into the forefront of public policy. Recently, Arts Forum developed a survey for all San Francisco supervisors up for re-election, to gauge their commitment to the arts. Read the results here.

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Police Foot Patrols

Board of Supervisor’s Hearing today:

City Hall, Room 263
Monday, October 2, 2006

10:00 AM
Regular Meeting

Police Foot Patrols
Ordinance adopting Section 10A.1 of the San Francisco Administrative Code to establish a one-year pilot program requiring foot patrols in crime-impacted areas within the boundaries of Northern Park, Tenderloin, Mission and Ingelside Police District Stations, and require reporting and review on the effectiveness of the foot patrols.

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The Tenderloin

I’ve heard The Tenderloin of San Francisco described in many ways. Perhaps ‘excused’ is a better word. Many San Francisco residents accept it as an unchangeable part of the city’s terrain. It is what it is, and if you don’t like it, stay away. This attitude is so prevalent that it can be found even within the police department.

Early in his term, Mayor Newsom made a habit of jogging through the Tenderloin. He didn’t like what he saw. Police union boss Gary Delagnes had this response:

“With all due respect, Mr. Mayor, we could put a cop on every corner, and the drug dealers would just deal in between them,” Delagnes said. “But if you are really tired of seeing drug dealers, there is one solution I could suggest.”

“What’s that?” the mayor asked.

“Try jogging somewhere else.”

The Tenderloin is known for its street display of homelessness, overt drug deals and drug doing, prostitution, mental illness, and any imaginable unsightly act associated with the above. It is also home to a large portion of the city’s immigrants, as well as many low-income families, seniors, and disabled.

It sits squarely in the very center of the city, bordered on the North by Post Street, on the East by Taylor and 6th Streets, on the South by Mission Street and on the West by Van Ness and 9th Streets. The area contains some of the most historic structures in San Francisco. According to Wikipedia, the Tenderloin was born out of the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake, when hotels were erected in the area to house the displaced. Those that could moved on a few decades later. Those that couldn’t afford to go anywhere else stayed, and the near empty hotels were converted into low-income housing. This led to an extreme concentration of impoverished in the area, which led to causes typical of extreme poverty – crime and other illicit activities. The concentration of homeless residents increased as, over the next several decades, business and retail operations abandoned the area, and building owners began renting those spaces out to various social agencies that served the homeless community.

Due to the large population of children and families, there are several parks and recreation centers in The Tenderloin. Not surprisingly, they are neglected and in great need of care. Last week I went to a community meeting at Boeddeker Park and Recreation Center on Eddy and Jones streets. Many nearby residents are passionate about the future of the park, and want to see it become a clean, safe, and beautiful place for the community. As it is now, the entrance on Ellis Street remains locked, and the stretch of fence has become a backdrop to a sort of Skid Row of cardboard shelters. The main entry on the corner of Eddy and Jones is open for most of the day. During my walk-through, I saw a number of homeless men, and male drug-dealers. There were no women, and no children.

The park is mainly brick, with planted landscaping on brick platforms. There is a green lawn in the children’s play area, in which adults without children are not allowed. The play structure is in extreme disrepair and looks dangerous. There are large patches of dirt, lacking plants or landscaping of any kind. The recreation center is just as bleak. At a recent clean-up day, a volunteer found rat droppings in the kitchen. During the community meeting, there was a group of adults gambling real money at a nearby table.

Making Boeddeker Park a safe place for children and seniors is a real conundrum, and there are no simple answers. I see it as a symbol of the large problems in the Tenderloin. If anyone reading this is familiar with the park, and has any ideas for it, please share them here. Please also share any knowledge you have of the history of the Tenderloin and local politics regarding the area.

Boedekker Park

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