The Myth On Market Street series: Who is behind the Myth?


root - Posted on 24 September 2001

Report from the Mid-Market PAC Meetings, a project of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency:

by Fiona Gow/PNN staff

Meetings by those interested in the massive recharacterization of the
Mid-Market Street have been going on for some time now. Considering the
number of people who make that area their home as well as the number of
small businesses that will surely be kicked out the moment wealthy
developers come in, it seemed only logical that these meetings would be a
volatile place. I was assigned to cover the Mid-Market PAC meeting on Monday
afternoon, in large part because Joe, a columnist at
POOR, had been one of the only representatives of the low-income community present at the meetings for the last several months.

The agenda alone was really all I needed to look at to know how the
meeting would proceed. The two main items on it were presentations by
Nordstrom's and AGI Capital, both of which want to create hundreds of new
parking spaces for shoppers to put their cars while they spend money in the
area. The Nordstrom's rep sold the idea of parking on the grounds that it
would reduce valet parking and since people would be parking their cars some
distance from the stores, there would be more pedestrian traffic and hence
more shopping.

Dee Gray, co-editor of POOR Magazine, asked the rep if he'd consulted the
people who actually live in the Mid-Market area to see what development they
would like to see. He admitted that no residents had been directly
consulted, but that there had been meetings with other coalitions similar to
the one meeting that afternoon. Looking at who was at this meeting, those
were not very inspiring words.

Dee asked if affordable housing wasn't the most necessary development,
to which the representative responded that the findings of numerous studies
would guide him in the right direction. Nordstrom's, as longtime investor in
San Francisco, would do what was best for the city. He said that the
community wasn't being ignored. A grocery store was being considered for
placement on the first floor and possibly some housing on the top floor.

The second presenter from AGI Capital wasn't much more enlightened. The
focus of the discourse was on how pleasant the walk down Stevenson Alley
could be for the people who parked their cars at the new structure on
Mission Street. In addition to parking, this structure would be a multi-use
one, meaning there would be offices, businesses and some housing, but
probably not low-income housing.

Both presenters said they would see what's most lucrative and what is
best for the city. No one is asking them to be benevolent, but when they say
they are considering what is best for the city, they should really clarify
whose city they are talking about. And when they say the studies show that
parking would be best, we need to ask what criteria is being used in those
studies. If developers and business people are the only attendees at these
meetings, surely the interests of low-income people already living in the
area will be ignored and displacement will be inevitable. According to other
attendees at the meeting, this was the first time that any acknowledgment
had been made of the fact that a huge number of low-income people live in
the mid-Market area. Surely those people deserve to be heard more than
anyone since, it is their lives that will be most affected by mega
developers brazenly moving in.

Joe needs more company at these meetings. If you are interested in
attending the next Mid-Market PAC Meeting, please call POOR Magazine at 863-6306.

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