Category Archives: Quality of Life

The Proposed Mission Dolores GBD

Many of our EVNA members who live on the East side of Castro street but not within  the boundaries of the Castro/Upper market Community  Benefit District (Castro CBD) will have an opportunity to participate in the process for the formation of a new proposed Mission Dolores Green Benefit District (MDGBD).  

Conan McHugh and Tom Shaub of the MDGBD formation committee briefed the EVNA Board of Directors about proposed GBD and the general concepts involved in making the GBD a reality.  The Board concurred with the GBD  Formation Committee on the process of engaging neighbors to evaluate the needs and benefits a GBD could bring to the neighborhood. The EVNA Board has taken no position on the property owner election to establish the GBD and is eager to provide a forum for our members to engage in meaningful discussion on the pros and cons of a GBD as proposed.

For more information about the proposed GBD, you can visit the MDGBD website at http://www.doloresgbd.org

EVNA Members are invited to join a meaningful discussion below.  You must be a member in good standing (i.e., dues up to date) to participate.  Being a subscriber to our newsletter is not membership.  If you live within the boundaries of the ENVA, please join us to join the conversation.

Castro Welcome pack kick off this week

The long awaited Castro Welcome Pack campaign is ready for delivery! We've got our backs packed (so to speak!), we have about 100 addresses, and now all we need is our volunteers to pick 'em up and get 'em delivered!

You've been hearing for several months now that the EVNA is launching a quarterly program to welcome all new residents to the neighborhood with a "Hello!" and a wine tote gift bag that includes information about EVNA and also promotes our local businesses with coupons and specials. I can't think of a better way to make sure those moving into the neighborhood feel connected and cared for from the start!

The delivery process goes something like this: you and a friend pick up about 10-15 of the pre-assembled, pre-addressed gift bags, and get them delivered before the end of April- anytime that works for you and your side-kick (we recommend teams of 2 people). The idea is to meet new residents face to face, say hello and welcome to the neighborhood, share a little bit about yourself, the Castro, and invite them to check out EVNA and to stop in the shops and restaurants with these specials included in the gift bag. Sounds pretty fun and easy! We've got a conversation guide if you need it, and a system to deal with recipients who might not be home the first time.

Volunteers had a great time putting all the bags together, and it's going to be a lot of fun getting them delivered. I know from experience, that the more I invest my time in helping others to feel connected, I somehow walk away with the same gift- it's a great feeling. If you'd like to help with delivery of the Castro Welcome Packs, email me and I'll get you connected!

mark.mchale@evna.org

Collingwood park: past, present, and a better future?

Although officially known as the Eureka Valley Recreation Center (EVRC) which includes the indoor facilities, dog run, playground, baseball diamond, and tennis court, many longtime residents and visitors still refer to the outdoor area Between Collingwood and Diamond along 19th street as Collingwood Park.  A quick web search (and a conversation with anyone who has lived in the neighborhood more than a few years) will tell you that Collingwood Park has been a prime cruising destination for years.  While Corona Park, Kite Hill, and Dolores Park are each about ½ mile walk from the Eureka Valley Rec Center, the proximity of the EVRC to the commercial corridor on Castro makes it the most accessible green space for local residents and visitors alike.  The mixed history of the park and oversized fences surrounding it have made the park more of an afterthought than a central gathering and recreation space for Castro residents. The playground/children’s indoor playroom and the dog run are undoubtedly the most heavily used portions of the complex in recent years - let’s look into the history of the park and how it came to be the way it is today.

Collingwood Park was purchased by the City of San Francisco in the early 1950s.  A recent historic context statement detailing the past of Eureka Valley/Castro neighborhood reveals how the park came to be: “In 1939, the city began planning for a park in the center of the Eureka Valley district for the first time, authorizing purchases of property on the south end of the block bounded by 18th, Collingwood,  Diamond, and 19th streets, though World War II and lack of funds and materials delayed action for more than a decade. In 1947, San Francisco voters passed a $12 million bond measure for new playgrounds and recreation spaces. With these funds, Eureka Valley finally got its own recreation area: the Eureka Valley Playground. The city acquired the last necessary property on the block in 1950 and broke ground  on the new playground facility in June 1951. . . . The original building, designed by the architecture firm Appleton & Wolford, contained a gymnasium, auditorium, and activity rooms. The city completed a $4 million renovation and addition project on the recreation center in 2006 that included a new 1,000‐square‐foot building and 2,100 square foot expansion, new playground area, and new fencing.”

The very first Hunky Jesus Contest and Children’s Easter egg roll hosted by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were held in the early nineties in the park. The last major renovation of the park was over 13 years ago according to the SF Parks Alliance website. Over the years many bushes and trees surrounding the park have been removed to deter cruising and unwanted activity from people using the park overnight.  Residents have complained that the park does not contain anywhere to sit on a sunny day, and the baseball field and tennis court are often sitting empty. The dog run is in need of major renovation, despite consistent efforts from Collingwood Dog Park Friends, an organization that hosts cleanup and maintenance days for the dog run.  In October 2018, EVNA activated the space by hosting the first Movie Night in the Park on the baseball diamond.

An informal survey of neighbors who live on Collingwood Street or use the children’s playground reveals that on windy days the urine-soaked dust from the dog park blows into their homes and onto the playground where children are playing.  There is no way to enter any part of the park from 19th street, and in order to access the grassy field one must walk through a gate on Diamond or Collingwood street and then another gate to enter the park itself which often appears locked.  The concrete bleachers along Diamond street are the only place to sit that are not a part of the playground or dog run, and are often littered with used syringes, discarded clothing, and food waste.

Six years ago, longtime Castro resident and EVNA board member Rob Anderson wrote in the Eureka “The redesign that occurred ten years ago was a decent attempt to allocate space and placate the needs of interested groups, however as you walk around the outside, the result is more reminiscent of a prison yard than an inviting green space. The densely fenced in areas create a feeling of restriction and barriers in a city and neighborhood that tries so hard to be welcoming and inclusive.”  I would argue not much has changed since that time aside from another six years of aging and wear-and-tear.

Efforts have been proposed to reimagine the public space.  In 2012, the group Friends of Collingwood Park formed and drafted a proposal to decrease the scale of fencing as well as add additional entrances to the park.  In 2017 an EVNA member submitted a participatory budgeting proposal to improve the dog run and replant missing trees from the perimeter of the park, which was not funded by the City.

Inspired by other nearby parks that have had substantial improvements in recent years, renewed efforts are underway to make Collingwood Park an accessible and user-friendly community recreation space in line with the SF Recreation and Park Department’s mission “to provide enriching recreational activities, maintain beautiful parks and preserve the environment for the well-being of everyone in our diverse community.”

Some neighbors have suggested removing or lowering fences, constructing a perimeter walking/running path around the park, adding trees and picnic tables in or near the grassy area, and redesigning the dog run with improved furniture, materials, and greenscaping.  Looking at the history of parks around the city that have seen major improvements - most notably Dolores Park and Duboce Park - those changes were prompted by neighbors and residents who advocated for change, working with the City and the Parks Alliance to gather community input and obtain funding for the changes they sought.

Any change to the park must be carefully considered in the context of current quality-of-life issues that confront the Castro today.  How do we create a welcoming space that doesn’t encourage people to leave trash, camp out, or cruise for sex in our newly redesigned public space?  How can we provide a place for a retiree to eat a sandwich or read a newspaper on a sunny afternoon without encroaching on the little league teams that battle it out on Saturday mornings?  Where will our canine friends be allowed to roam free if not in a safe, fenced area? If you have ideas for how we can answer these questions, or think you know how we can improve Collingwood Park/Eureka Valley Rec Center for our human and canine friends and neighbors, we look forward to hearing from you at our next meeting!

Housing Conservatorships Program


Alex Lemberg, EVNA Vice-President

District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, together with Mayor London Breed and Supervisors Vallie Brown and Catherine Stefani, introduced an ordinancein November 2018 to implement the new Housing Conservatorship program passed by the California Legislature in last year’s Senate Bill 1045 by Senator Scott Wiener. This controversial measure faces opposition from civil rights proponents such as the Coalition on Homelessness because of its potential impingement on human rights and civil liberties. I sought to analyze the potential impacts of this ordinance.

As a housing rights and eviction defense attorney in the Bayview/Hunters Point neighborhood, I work with clients who have mental illnesses and addiction problems every day. Years ago, I, too, experienced homelessness and drug addiction in San Francisco. Between these experiences, I am very sensitive to laws, regulations, and law enforcement that may cause constitutional or human rights violations. I admit that I was highly reticent to increase conservatorships in any way.

Conservatorships are one of the touchiest areas of the law. The U.S. and California Constitutions guarantee all people that their life, liberty, and property may not be abridged by the government without due process of law. Adults in this country are presumed capable of making major life decisions regarding their health, finances, and familial autonomy. Because the concept of conservatorship touches all three of these constitutional guarantees, extreme scrutiny must be applied to any law that alters these rights.

The new Housing Conservatorship program that would be implemented and operated by Supervisor Mandelman’s ordinance essentially adds two major components to the set of tools available to social workers, city housing staff, and other networks that provide support to homeless people. First, it expands the City of San Francisco’s ability to treat people who suffer from severe drug addiction and mental health disorders. Possibly the only identifiable code section number that has made an impact on popular culture, Section 5150 of the California Welfare & Institutions Code, curiously permits the conservatorship of individuals with mental health disorders co-occurring with alcoholism, but not drug addiction. Supervisor Mandelman’s ordinance permits services providers with the ability to conserve people with drug addiction, fixing an odd loophole. Second, for the very few individuals this new type of conservatorship would affect, the new ordinance adds a new requirement: providing permanent supportive housing.

My biggest concern with this ordinance was the potential for abuse. I imagined scenarios in which police targeted the autonomy of homeless people who exhibited criminal behaviors. I imagined sweeps of homeless encampments resulting in serious human rights violations. While San Francisco is not free from these abuses, this ordinance neither encourages nor permits these types of untenable situations. For example, the new ordinance adopts S.B. 1045’s requirement that a person must be put under a 72-hour psychiatric hold eight times in a twelve-month period in order to be eligible for a Housing Conservatorship. This high bar ensures that only people who really need these conservatorships will receive them. Additionally, the ordinance creates a governing working group to oversee the Housing Conservatorship program that includes disability rights advocates, homeless services providers, members of the Department of Public Health, and addiction experts, among many others. This ensures public accountability.

Supervisor Mandelman’s ordinance is thoughtfully crafted, considerate of the dignity of homeless individuals, and would create an avenue for some of the neediest and most vulnerable people in our City to obtain supportive housing, which is proven to be the best model for housing longevity of homeless people who have serious mental illnesses. I fully expected that given my beliefs I would be fully against this measure, but even a skeptic such as I cannot find any grave flaws with this ordinance.

In its current iteration, this ordinance would create a smart, thoughtful program that I believe may significantly increase the housing and health outcomes for some of San Francisco’s most troubled residents. Please consider supporting this ordinance so it can become law and begin helping people.

9/26 Membership Meeting

President's Update:

Our September general meeting focused on Quality of Life issues. Though we had some last minute changes to the presenters list, we managed to put on a very informative meeting.

Thanks to Vietnam Nguyen from the George Gascon's DA's office (who I hear is NOT going to be running for re-election!). Vietnam discussed attempts by his office to reach out to communities across the city to improve communications, crime reporting, and statistics.

The Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza crew provided us with an update on the project with new renderings and a video fly-through of the space allowing us to "see and feel" what was in mind for the site. Members got very excited when Ray Connolly spoke about their efforts to create a world-class memorial to Harvey Milk and give tribute to his impact on so many people across generations and continents. Mr. Connolly has joined in the fundraising efforts about to launch.

A special thanks to our very own Supervisor Rafael Mandelman for making time to join us. Rafael is making good progress with his own comprehensive study and taking steps to unravel the puzzle behind the increase in the extreme conditions we're experiencing on our streets in the Castro. Since his election in June, he's brought together the people involved, spearheaded key legislation, and working closely with police and service providers to get solutions in place (both temporary and long term). Be sure to follow him here on his FB feed..

We had a great turnout  with over 65 people in attendance. For the past several  meetings, more Eureka Valley residents are showing up and taking part. It's been really fun to see so many members and so many new faces in the seats. I did have some good feedback from a long-standing member who felt that the Q&A time (which I kept to 4 minutes after each speaker), was too short and he didn't get to ask his questions- As a result, I think it best to slim down the agenda (it's been pretty packed), allowing more time for attendees to interact, take questions and make comments. Appreciate the advice!

Please mark your calendars for the next Board of Directors meetings: October 9 and then November 13th, 2018 at 7:00pm in the community room at the Chance Bank on Sanchez/15th and Market Streets. You're welcome to attend, observe, and make comments.

Candidates wishing to stand for election to the Board must have their names submitted by October 31st. You must have a paid EVNA membership, live within the boundaries laid out in the newly adopted Bylaws (under the "About" tab), and be confirmed by the Board before elections at our General Meeting on 11/28. Email me with your questions. Open positions include: Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, and up to 5 Board Members at Large.

Our next General Meeting meeting is Nov 28th, 2018 in the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy cafeteria from 7-8:30 (doors open at 6:40ish). We'll have EVNA elections at this meeting, and then focused our attention on our theme: "Good Neighbor."  We'll take a well deserved look at those among us who volunteer for service and give of themselves and their resources to make our neighborhood closer and more caring. There's a LONG list to consider!

See you around the neighborhood!

 

 


 

The September Eureka! Newsletter and Our Next Membership Meeting

EVNA Members;

The September Eureka! is hot off the press, and it's our Quality of Life Edition. The challenges on our streets and in our neighborhood get top billing and some desperately needed attention from our QOL committee members, and our elected and government officials.

You've got the newsletter here first... lots of really good content that should be of interest to many of you.

Board Elections are soon upon us- we're looking for a few good souls to join us in our efforts to serve the community, now is the time to put your name in. Elections take place at our November meeting:

  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Board Member at Large (up to 5 positions)

Please mark your calendars now to join us Wednesday, September 26th, 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:40pm), at our next membership meeting at the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy on 19th Street at Collingwood.

Meeting Agenda!

  • Supervisor Rafael Mandelman
  • Assemblyman David Chiu
  • Mayor London Breed (not yet confirmed)
  • Call for EVNA Elections
  • EVNA's First Movie Night in October!
  • 2 Presentations:

Print copies come out this week, and we're looking forward to seeing everyone at the meeting!

Vote on Projects to Make Our Neighborhood Better!

District 8 Castro/Eureka Valley peeps- here's your chance to spend a little city money making our civic spaces a little nicer... vote for the projects you want most!
 
SAN FRANCISCO—At 12 PST, Wednesday, April 18th, 2018, voting for District 8 Participatory Budgeting Proposals went live. Participatory Budgeting is a democratic process that gives community members the opportunity to set budgeting priorities and make decisions on which community projects should be funded. District 8 residents will be able to help decide on how best to spend $250,000 for neighborhood enhancements, beautification, safety, open space and other improvements. All District 8 residents 16 and up can participate in the voting process. Non-U.S. Citizens, regardless of immigration status are also invited to participate in the voting process. Supervisor Sheehy, is the first District 8 Supervisor to initiate this process in our community. Sheehy said, “I am very proud to initiate District Eight’s first Participatory Budgeting process. We have set aside $250,000.00 in community funding initiatives and I encourage all of you to Vote!”
 

Castro Street Fair Organizers are having a community input session…

The Castro Street Fair has changed a lot over the years, from a celebratory event in the early years, to a Little Folsom Street Fair, to a more family friendly social event these more recent years.

If you have comments or suggestions on any aspect of the event that would help them do an even better than usual job on anything from set up to tear down, and everything in the middle and whatever is left over, join the rest of us at this event -

Make the Castro Street Fair Great Again!

Community Meeting for Harvey Milk Plaza Redesign- THIS Saturday

Are you ready for it?
The Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza and architects Perkins Eastman are ready to share the designs created in response to the community feedback gathered in the community meetings held in February and March! And YOU ARE INVITED to attend the unveiling at Community Meeting #3, to be held from 3:00-4:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 7, 2018, at Most Holy Redeemer Parish Hall at 100 Diamond Street in San Francisco.
 
You will have a chance to be among the first to see the design proposals, and interact with others to provide comment and feedback on each of the options. Your input is so very important, especially at this stage, where the actual design is taking shape. Don't miss your chance to be part of the process!
 
If you were unable to attend the meeting on March 3rd, please contribute your input regarding the topics covered here. The 4th meeting is still TBA, but is planned to be an Open House format. You will receive meeting details, including date and location, once confirmed.
Also, we invite you to stay connected with the Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza online at www.friendsofharveymilkplaza.org
 
Finally, a huge THANK YOU from us for the time and enthusiasm you are bringing to this effort to #HonorHarveyMilk in the plaza that bears his name. The forward momentum will continue with the input gathered from these community meetings and through online engagement. We are so grateful that you share our desire to honor Harvey’s contribution to our neighborhood and to our community.
 
We look forward too seeing you on April 7th! Tell your friends and neighbors too!
 
Kindly,
Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza
www.friendsofharveymilkplaza.org

President’s Update

Mark D McHale
2018 February

Have you ever walked down your street, strolled through the Castro, or taken a hike over to Tank Hill and caught yourself falling in love again with where you live? Simple sights like a spray of spring cherry blossoms, the coffee clutch gathered in front of Spikes Coffee every morning, or the sun coming up near the Mission High School tower- how wonderful a surprise. A smile comes over my face, recalling how lucky I am to live here, in this wonderful neighborhood we call home.

That’s why I’m excited to serve as president of the EVNA; it’s all about bringing people together and making a stronger community. The board members and committee heads are spinning up their own plans to bring our mission to life. I am so proud to tell you that we know have 6 fully staffed committees: Quality of Life, Social, Newsletter, Training and Education, Membership and Planning), and we’re floating the idea of a new one: Transit- this committee will engage with other stakeholders to engage and educate us on topics ranging from bike lanes, pedestrian safety, infrastructure updates, and more. If you are interested in transit planning, raise your hand and volunteer!

Since our last public meeting, we have about a dozen new members who’ve joined. We’ve also had 5 volunteers join a committee. We’re growing fast!

The board is working on some exciting projects that I can’t wait to share with you. The big event this spring is the Mayoral Debate scheduled for March 19th at the Castro Theater. We’re working with the sponsors to provide EVNA volunteers to help with ushering and crowd control- no better way to experience the event first hand- what an event to see all those candidates in one place: Alioto, Breed, Bravo, Greenberg, Kim, Leno, Weiss, and Zhou.

We’re also leading the conversation on vacancies in the Castro. In the spotlight is Veritas, the company that bought the buildings at 2099 and 2103 Market Street. You may have noticed many of the businesses have closed or moved over the last year, and we’re in contact with Veritas to keep the sidewalks out front clean and safe and get viable businesses in those spaces quickly.

Staying on the subject of politics, at our next public meeting, Rafael Mendelman, candidate for District 8 Supervisor, will present his positions on issues that affect our neighborhood. He’s got some interesting ideas to address serious homelessness and chronic addiction on our streets, the high rate of vacancies, and on other important issues. Come see him at our next public meeting on March 28th, at 7pm at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy.

Behind the scenes, the board is working on our own infrastructures and systems. We’re reviewing our governance documents, migrating our records to G-Suite for archiving and document sharing, and working on getting the website pages updated with the new leadership photos and bios. Never a wasted moment for this gang. So fortunate to work with such passionate people.

See you at the next EVNA meeting;

Wednesday, March 28th
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm (come early, stay late)
Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy Cafeteria
19th Street at Collingwood