Supervisor Eric Mar: March community updates

Report on the Richmond Public Safety Forum
On Wednesday, March 28, a standing-room-only crowd of District 1 residents and merchants attended my Public Safety Forum at the Richmond Public Library. Panelists included commissioners Jocelyn Kane, Glendon Hyde and Audrey Joseph from the SF Entertain­ment Commission; Irina Chatsova, program director for San Francisco SAFE; Jane Gong from the San Francisco Office of Small Business; Lt. Espinda and officer Moore from the Richmond Police Station; and me. In attendance were Nick Belloni, from the Planning Association for the Richmond; David Heller, president of the Greater Geary Boulevard Merchants Association; and Jesse Fink, from the Clement Street Merchants Association.

Among the topics covered were: the rash of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) related lawsuits targeting our small businesses; the role of the Entertainment Commission in managing the neighborhood's nightlife; the Richmond Police Station's plan for dealing with increasing nightlife activity; and how SAFE can help our residents improve the safety of our homes and neighborhood.

Highlights included the announcements that SAFE is forming a neighborhood watch and that the Richmond Police Station is systematically working to improve communication between nightlife establishments and the community. The owners of The Rockit Room and Jack In The Box were among the attendees and heard directly from community members how they could be more responsive to the neighborhood.

It was a very successful night that created a strong framework for a safer community. Thanks to all of you that participated!

Helping PTAs raise money
Many of our Richmond District Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) have utilized a novel fundraising strategy in recent years: opening their parking lots for use by the public during large events at Golden Gate Park. This allows our schools to creatively address funding shortfalls while also helping to alleviate one of the most aggravating problems that are generated by these events. Unfortunately, under the existing Business and Tax Regulations Code, these funds are subject to a city tax that significantly cuts into the revenue generated by these events.

Last year, I was approached by one of the parents and asked to develop a solution. In conjunction with Mayor Edwin Lee, I am developing legislation, to be introduced in April, which will exempt PTAs from this tax and allow schools to retain the full benefit of their fundraising.

I salute the tenacity of our local PTAs in providing for the needs of our schools and their children and hope that this legislation will help bolster our efforts.

Curbing spread of big banks
Over the past few years we have seen an explosion in the number of big national bank branch offices throughout San Francisco. Though they are overrepresented in certain neighborhoods, and compete with local businesses for commercial spaces, neighborhoods are powerless to object to their proliferation because the SF Planning Code allows these businesses to come in without any kind of hearing.

In February, I introduced legislation to address this problem. My ordinance amends the Planning Code to include "financial services" within the categories of uses that are subject to formula retail controls and require a Conditional Use Permit.

The ordinance is straightforward and simply brings financial services under the same requirements that voters approved in 2007 when they passed Proposition G.

At this time, banks and other financial institutions do not fall within the definition of "formula retail." It brings financial services within the definition, making banks, credit unions and savings and loans that have 11 or more branches subject to the conditional use requirement.

It is not a ban and gives formula retail financial service institutions a chance to move into areas where there is community support for their presence. By the same token, if an area, such as Hayes Valley, has an already existing ban on formula retail uses, then financial services would also be captured by that ban.

Neighborhoods will have a greater say in the way their commercial corridors are developed and it provides an additional measure of protection to small businesses that feel threatened by the proliferation of formula retailers. It also allows the Planning Commission to assess whether a proposed bank, savings and loan or credit union is necessary or desirable in the community and, in particular, whether there is an overconcentration of banks within that community.

In March, the city's Small Business Commission approved it unanimously. Next, it will be heard before the SF Planning Commission on Thursday, April 12, at 1 p.m. I encourage your participation.

Visitor Center to open
After years of planning and community input, including from myself, the beautiful new Lands End Visitor Center will open on Saturday, April 28. The ribbon cutting will happen at 11 a.m. Please join me for the open house and guided walks.

Save the date: Richmond District Health Festival
This year's event will be held at the Richmond Recreation Center (251 18th Ave.), on Saturday, May 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Attendees can benefit from a variety of health screenings, medication review, and access to various community-based organizations. There will also be activities for the entire family, including live entertainment, fun activities for the kids, free healthy foods, free prizes and more. I hope to see you all there.

Coffee Hour with Eric April 19

My next coffee hour is scheduled on Thursday, April 19, at the Zephyr Cafe, 3643 Balboa St., at 37th Avenue, at 10 a.m. If you need my attention before then, please feel free to contact my office at (415) 554-7410 or e-mail me at [email protected].

Bike through Richmond day
Please join me and a merry group of bikers on Thursday, April 19, and bike through our great district together. We will leave from the Velo Rouge Cafe, 798 Arguello Blvd., at 8 a.m. and head west towards the Zephyr Cafe. Rain cancels this event.

San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar represents District 1.