March 9, 2016

Summary from March 9, 2016

7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Upper Noe Recreation Center, 295 Day Street

Neighborhood Associations Panel
Upper Noe Neighbors invites neighborhood associations to participate in a panel discussion about effective neighborhood activism.

The meeting was a nice event. Moderator Art Agnos gave a grand introduction, emphasizing the importance of neighborhood associations and the unique situation Upper Noe Neighbors created of bringing together adjacent associations into one forum. About 40 people attended. Art said that, except for times of crises, this was typical of these types of meetings where the vanguard of the community comes together to spotlight issues and to gather and exchange information to disseminate to their neighbors. Art went on at length about the power of neighborhood associations and the need for them to exercise that muscle to overcome the centralized power of City Hall. He championed neighborhoods with making the difference in the 8 Washington and Prop B (waterfront construction height limits) initiatives.

Eventually, Art turned to the panelists, GPA President Michael Rice, Friends of Noe Valley President Todd David, Diamond Heights Community Association President Betsy Eddy, and Upper Noe Neighbors President Marianne Hampton. He asked each to introduce themselves, tell how long they have lived in their neighborhoods, how they came to be involved in their neighborhood association and for how long. Each had an interesting story to share that illuminated their long and deep-seated connections to their communities and protracted histories of tackling neighborhood issues.

What type of organization?
GPA: Board, committees, writers. Diverse interests and project-based.
FNV: Board, directors-at-large. Focused on public event only. Leaves issues to the wide array of other local organizations.
DHCA: Board. Project-based.
UNN: Board, committees. Project-based.

What type of issues?
GPA: SFMTA – Bosworth disaster
FNV: public events only
DHCA: MUNI routes, water main breaks.
UNN: SFMTA – projects sprung upon the neighborhood without notice, shuttle buses, J-Church

How do you communicate/interact with your group?
GPA: website, blog and quarterly newspaper delivered to every doorstep
FNV: website, email, Noe Valley Voice
DHCA: email, NextDoor
UNN: website, email

Open to questions from the floor:
Someone mentioned the tech shuttles because SFMTA just announced that they plan to designate 2 whole blocks of Dolores Street near 28th Street as new tech shuttle stops, even though there is already a large stop at Dolores and San Jose Ave 2 blocks away. Ed Mason of UNN, an expert on the subject, spoke at length. In some neighborhoods, tech shuttles pass through at almost one per minute. In others, they sit idling, spewing diesel fumes. A study of the available records shows that less than 8500 people in San Francisco use tech shuttles. It was mentioned that the impact upon roads and neighborhoods is significant for service to such a small percentage of citizens. He proposed that Millbrae Station can easily accommodate a large number of buses and that workers can get there by taking BART.

Throughout the discussion, Art intervened with advice about how to approach problems with SFMTA and other City agencies. He stressed the need to identify the source of the irritation within an agency and approaching the Board of Supervisors to cut funding for that part of the agency until the irritation stops. This specifically addressed the current shell game that SFMTA is playing with tech shuttle stops.

Ron Halbert of the new Fairmount Heights Association asked the panelists how they stimulate participation. Ron mentioned that since forming the group last summer, monthly attendance steadily dropped as the initial excitement waned. All of the panelists agreed that maintaining active member participation is a perennial struggle, and that a small, core group generally serves to maintain the association. All agreed however that neighborhood associations are important community assets. The panelist also voiced sentiments that bringing associations together in forums such as this is a great idea and that it should be repeated on a regular basis.

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