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MINUTES OF THE
SOUTHEAST COMMUNITY FACILITY COMMISSION
MEETING THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2009 – 6:00 PM
ALEX L. PITCHER, JR. COMMUNITY ROOM,1800 OAKDALE AVENUE
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94124
1.0 CALL TO ORDER
Commission President Willie B. Kennedy called the Thursday, February 12, 2009 meeting to order at 6:12 p.m. in the Alex L. Pitcher Community Room at 1800 Oakdale Avenue. Commissioner Kennedy read the Sunshine Ordinance.
1.1 ROLL CALL
6:14 p.m. Commission Secretary – Carla Vaughn
Commissioners Present: Kennedy, Brown, Sampson, Churchwell, Chung, Yang
Commissioners Excused: Jones
Staff Present: Toye Moses, Executive Director
Ella Empleo, Management Assistant
Carla Vaughn, Commission Secretary
1.2 CONSENT CALENDAR
Commission President Willie B. Kennedy announced the Consent Calendar.
Commissioner Churchwell moved to accept the consent calendar and the minutes of the Thursday, January 8, 2009 Commission meeting. The minutes of the Wednesday, January 28, 2009 Commission meeting were moved forward to the calendar of the next meeting. Commissioner Brown seconded the motion. The consent calendar was accepted.
2.0 PUBLIC COMMENT
Sam Murray, Communications Manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission thanked the Commissioners for coming out twice a month and working with the community.
Mr. Murray stated the Digester Task Force had their first meeting last week, things were going well, and the first tour for the task force members would be on February 20 to learn about the sites and the future plans. He said with Commissioner Jones not being available the Commission needed to suggest another Commissioner for the task force. The task force meets once a month on the first Wednesday of the month at 6 pm. He requested another Commissioner be appointed.
Mr. Murray said the SFPUC would be involved with the Southeast Commission Annual Health Fair. He said the SFPUC was looking forward to getting involved.
Chair Kennedy asked Commissioner Yang if she was available to work with the Digester Task Force.
Commissioner Yang said she was available.
Chair Kennedy appointed Commissioner Yang to be a part of the Digester Task Force.
Carla Vaughn, Commission Secretary announced the following:
a) Press Release: Mayor Gavin Newsom Announces Appointments And New Department Heads.
b) Press Release: Mayor Gavin Newsom Asks Private Sector To Partner With San Francisco On Clean Energy Loan Program.
c) Press Release: Mayor Newsom, SFUSD, And SFSU Honor The First 6th Grade Classes Guaranteed A Spot At San Francisco State University As Part Of “SF Promise”.
d) Statement: Mayor Gavin Newsom’s Statement On Decision By State Supreme Court To Hear Prop 8 Case.
e) Press Release: SF Lands $1.2M In State And Federal Grants For New “Brown Grease” Biodiesel Plant And Development Of “How-To” Manual For Cities Across Nation.
f) Invitation: Coalition Of Asian American Government Employees Invites You To The 2009 Lunar New Years Luncheon, Friday, February 13, 2009.
g) Email Regarding “Opportunities For Black Males Who Want To Become Teachers”.
h) Press Release: Mayor Gavin Newsom Announces Expansion Of San Francisco’s Universal Healthcare Program.
i) Press Release: Mayor Gavin Newsom Announces San Francisco’s Local Economic Stimulus Package.
j) Updated Strategy For Supporting San Francisco’s Economy
k) Executive Summary.
Chair Kennedy introduced and welcomed Mr. Zane Blaney, Executive Director, ACCESSF Community Media.
Director Moses said staff met with Mr. Blaney two weeks ago and received a tour of the ACCESSF facility.
Mr. Blaney thanked Dr. Moses for touring the ACCESSF facility and said he sometimes meets with community groups and asks them to raise their hand if they own a TV station. He said no one will raise their hand and he tells them the next time someone asks that question please raise your hand because you do, in fact, own a television station in San Francisco, and that’s San Francisco’s Public Access Television Station. There is also a government access television station. That is the station we see the gavel to gavel coverage of the Board of Supervisors meetings, and there is an education access channel that is controlled by the Unified School District and City College. These channels are known as the Public Education and Government or PEG channels.
Mr. Blaney said Public Access has a long history in San Francisco going back over 30 years and we have President Willie Kennedy to thank. He stated when Chair Kennedy was one of San Francisco’s most distinguished supervisors she took the lead in advocating and supporting public access TV during her tenure at the Board Of Supervisors.
Mr. Blaney told the Commissioners Public Access has training facilities and production facilities at 1720 Market Street at Valencia. Anyone from the community can come in without any television experience whatsoever and we will teach them how to make their own television show using the control room, the studio, the edit suites, and the field equipment. They can submit a program, or they can make a program at home and bring that tape in and we’ll play that tape.
Mr. Blaney said by regulation no content control is exercised whatsoever. The program is not viewed beforehand, and as along as the speech is legal it is part of a true free speech forum.
Mr. Blaney reported that over the years in San Francisco we have also developed other infrastructure for the use of these PEG channels and part of that infrastructure was recently installed in this building. There is a small device about the size of a VCR and into that device the cable company has been required to bring in a fiber connection, which is linked to city hall and then linked to the public access television stations, the government access television stations, and the education access stations. The ultimate reason for this was that over ten years ago as the city began to explore these possibilities, the city identified eleven locations in San Francisco where the Board of Supervisors could come and have meetings, or where performances and other events could take place and be televised on these channels. The four city owned community centers are the African-American Art and Culture Complex, the SOMA Arts Complex, the Mission Complex, and the Southeast Community Facility complex.
Mr. Blaney said there is an opportunity with this technology to bring cameras into this room. Microphones connect to the audio using the expertise which already exists in the community of videographers and others to cablecast this meeting live, as well as other kinds of meetings that may take place in this room. We look in the audience tonight and we see that a number of people have come into the Commission meeting tonight to hear you, but you could have the opportunity of reaching 600,000 viewers of cable systems in San Francisco, plus, the signals are streamed on the Internet so you don’t have to have cable, but if you happen to have a computer with a high speed connection you could be viewing these meetings, but it is not just the meetings that happen here, it is really what happens in the community.
Mr. Blaney said he was sure there were community events, performances, and meetings that could be televised. He said since City College was located here and there were people in the community that over the years had learned the skills of video broadcasting, they know how to operate cameras and audio. These people could now help us to connect cameras to the infrastructure to utilize not just the staff of public access television station, but using people in the community that have the skills to bring this programming to the community. He said we could be teaching our youth, members of the community, how to do this, so we don’t have other professionals coming in. Mr. Blaney noted that when youth come to the television station on Market Street it becomes a transformational moment for them. Their eyes light up and they start thinking about their message, their life, and what they could be doing with their story.
Mr. Blaney told the Commission there was one young man who one morning was asked to sell drugs and that same day someone else came in and asked him if he would rather make a video on public access TV. He chose to make a video at public access TV. We know that it is a transformational process.
Mr. Blaney told the Commission there are the other elements in the community, the social organizations, the health organizations, the immigration organizations, and the struggling businesses. We have an opportunity to convince the Board of Supervisors to change a policy about these channels to allow them to be commercialized or monetized. That is kind of a dirty word, commercials on public access TV, who wants to do that? As Mr. Blaney finished his comments he said public access TV specifically is deeply threatened at the moment with a significant budget cut. Public access TV is not a city agency, but simply a non-profit that has a contract with the city to manage public access, but because of cable franchises expiring that contained operational moneys in them, and new statewide video franchising laws that prohibit the use of money for operations, by July of this year public access could be closed, locked up. The city is offering $120,000 a year to operate this facility which now takes about $900,000. So, that $120,000 is enough to turn on the lights and the air conditioning, but there is no staff at that level. One of the things that could be done, and is allowed by state law, is to run commercials. What does that mean? We’re not talking about Ford car commercials, but out of all of the businesses in the BayView Hunter’s Point and around the community that are small and struggling for $10 you could have ten little ads on TV that would talk about your business, maybe an interview show, maybe a jobs fair, maybe an event where the businesses come to this facility and we talk about their businesses, or we talk about what their struggles are, we talk about what they need in the community. All of these things could in fact be put on public access TV. It has tremendous potential. We would love to be able to come here and connect and broadcast your meetings and other events.
In conclusion Mr. Blaney asked for support and help from the Commission in this struggle. He said many city agencies were taking deep and significant cuts and although they were not a city agency they formed a coalition called the SOS coalition (Save Our Station). London Breed, of the African-American Art and Culture Complex, has joined that coalition. On Monday, February 23rd at 10 am before the City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee a resolution that Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi has introduced, to reform the way PEG channels are funded, will be discussed as well as there will be an opportunity to discuss the funding crisis for public access TV. We would certainly invite and encourage anyone from the Commission that might be able to come to that hearing and speak, and least of all perhaps would be even a letter of support for public access and for the potential that I described being used here at this Commission.
Mr. Blaney thanked the Commission and asked if there were any questions.
Chair Kennedy had questions regarding the potential for use at the Southeast Community Facility Commission.
Mr. Blaney said cameras needed to be brought into the facility to test the infrastructure and the signal. He said there were probably people in the community that would volunteer cameras.
Commissioner Kennedy noted that KPOO had used the equipment to broadcast the CAC meetings, but only for their own use. She suggested asking staff to do a letter of support.
Jeffrey Betcher addressed the Commission and said public access tv was on the precipice and the community was at risk to lose a precious asset. He said they fill a gap that no one else does. He said whatever could be done collectively to support public access he was in support of and would commit a letter of support from his organization, The Quesada Gardens Initiative and BayView Footprints Collaboration. Mr. Betcher said they were talking about wanting to do some sort of a field operation in terms of their communications work. He said they were doing oral histories telling a balanced story of the neighborhood that doesn’t usually make it to the press. He said they would be happy to collaborate in support of public access TV and co-fund raise because some people would love to be paid. He said it was a natural fit for the work they were engaged in on the resident’s side and the Southeast Community Facility.
Mr. James Ross, student Ambassador of City College, co-founder of The Quesada Gardens Initiative, and co-founder of the Blue Dolphin Swim Team said access TV has been very good to him. He has his own show called “Life On The Block”. Eleven shows have been completed and teachers from City College will be on the show. He offered support for public access TV.
Commissioner Brown said she thought it was a great opportunity for BayView residents.
Chair Kennedy asked what stations were broadcasting public access TV.
Mr. Blaney responded public access was on three different cable systems. Astound channels 29 and 30, AT&T channel 99 and Comcast channels 29 and 76.
Commissioner Churchwell asked if this was just for BayView Hunter’s Point and Mr. Blaney responded it was citywide.
Chair Kennedy asked staff to draft a letter to the Board of Supervisors and Mayor Newsom stating the support of the Southeast Community Facility Commission for public access TV.
Mr. Blaney asked a representative from the Commission to attend the city hall meeting in support of public access TV.
5.0 REPORT OF THE PRESIDENT
6.0 HEALTH AND HOUSING AD-HOC COMMITTEE REPORT
8.0 NEW AND ON-GOING BUSINESS
Chair Kennedy suggested taking time out to plan a Commission Retreat to discuss short/long term goals and accomplishments. She asked if anyone had an idea about when they would like to have the retreat. She said the best day of the week would be a Saturday starting around 9 or 10 am and ending around 2 or 3 pm.
Director Moses said he had a long discussion with the President and they thought it might be a good idea to have a retreat so they could talk about the short and long term goals away from the facility.
Director Moses said the Citizens Advisory Group was set up almost two years ago to talk about the ordinance that created this Commission and the Deputy City Attorney made a fine presentation about three meetings ago, so we thought it might be a good idea that we just talk about it and come out with a realistic goal.
Dr. Moses said he talked to the Assistant General Manager, Tommy Moala to see if he can give us some money for a facilitator. Mr. Moala said that is no problem and to talk to Tony Flores, our manager for Wastewater Enterprise. We will devote a whole day to talk about issues in a very relaxed atmosphere. Dr. Moses said we are trying to get the involvement of Ed Lee, Chief Administrative Officer for the City and he is willing to help.
Commissioner Churchwell asked when was the last time the Commission had a retreat.
Director Moses responded, never.
The Commissioners agreed one was needed.
Director Moses said the staff could put something together and suggest a couple of dates and a place.
Chair Kennedy said she participated in one at the YMCA.
Commissioner Churchwell requested the information be provided at the next meeting.
Dr. Moses said he would be out of town next week and staff could provide the requested information at the next Commission meeting.
Commissioner Churchwell asked how many hours they would be expected to meet because to cut it short
might not be good.
Chair Kennedy asked for a motion. It was moved by Commissioner Sampson and passed unanimously.
9.0 INTRODUCTION OF NEW BUSINESS BY COMMISSIONERS
Commissioner Sampson said there was meeting of the Park and Recreation
Department to close Coleman Park and he asked they be invited to address the
Commission and explain why this was being done.
Carla Vaughn, Commission Secretary said Chris Iglesias, Director of the Human
Rights Commission was scheduled to present at the next Commission meeting.
Director Moses suggested inviting David Chiu, the newly elected President of
the Board of Supervisors to address the Commission.
Chair Kennedy announced Mike Farrah, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services was approximately 10 minutes away. She announced he was coming to address the Commission on goals, activities, and how the BayView Hunter’s Point residents benefit from the programs that are offered by the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services.
Chair Kennedy opened the floor for discussion regarding outreach into the community.
Dr. Moses responded that it was Commissioner Sampson’s committee.
Commissioner Sampson said the committee met several times and gave several recommendations. At the last meeting they voted for staff to start working on the banner and the other recommendations that were there according to their priority.
Commissioner Kennedy said, “And we’ve heard no more from them?”
Commissioner Sampson responded there had not been another meeting.
Dr. Moses said it was in progress.
Commissioner Kennedy said she knew something had been done in trying to increase the attendance here for the various meetings. She said it was unknown as to which suggestions would be made but she remembered some.
Chair Kennedy said something needed to be done and if the ACCESSF station was available we would not need to worry so much about people attending because they could still be reached on the various cable stations.
Chair Kennedy welcomed Mr. Mike Farrah, Director, Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, who addressed the Commission.
Mr. Farrah has been with the Mayor for twelve years and said he was with Chair Kennedy when she was a Supervisor with the Board of Supervisors. At the time he was an aide to Supervisor Gavin Newsom. He said he loves public service and is dedicated to this part of the City having grown up on Bacon Street and now lives in Bernal Heights, which is not too far away from the BayView neighborhood. Mr. Farrah is the Mayor’s senior advisor and now runs the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services where every type of constituent you may think of is taken.
Mr. Farrah advised the Commission of his morning schedule which included 25 people in his office trying to get municipal ID cards. His office tried to make sure they knew how to do that. He said the overflow of people were taken to get appointments on-line so they could get their ID cards. He reported people were protesting in front of their office this morning because today was the fifth anniversary of gay marriage. Mr. Farrah said this was five years later and some people were getting married and some people were protesting that they couldn’t get married today in City Hall.
Mr. Farrah said he worked today briefly with a basketball tournament the Mayor is planning in the outer-Mission, OceanView/Merced/Ingleside area, called March Gladness. The Mayor has had a couple of those tournaments in the Southeast sector of San Francisco.
Mr. Farrah reported seeing a huge increase in the amount of caseloads coming through the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services. He said he’d never been involved in government where he has seen people so full of hope and despair at the same time.
Mr. Farrah told the Commission people are really struggling and if you talk to them one minute they will tell you about the hopes and dreams that they have for this country, and in another moment they will tell you how scared they are about losing their jobs.
Mr. Farrah talked about the broader prospect regarding what the city is facing. The city is facing a $575 million dollar deficit for next fiscal year 09/10. The number we believe is actually worse. The six month report was just received and shows some of the worse case scenarios seen with the revenue are actually worse than expected. A second round of cuts is being worked on and will be announced shortly.
Mr. Farrah said the city has already experienced over 400 layoffs and it’s not looking any better. At the city’s peak revenue from the San Francisco transfer tax was at about $144 million dollars and we’re expecting somewhere between $25 to $32 million dollars next year. There is just not the economic activity we are use to seeing. We are solely focused right now. Both the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, the Mayor’s Budget Office and the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services are trying to create legislation and a situation where we can continue to hold jobs in San Francisco. That means looking at our tax structure a little bit differently. It does mean a little bit less revenue for the City and County of San Francisco, but hopefully the best social program you could possibly have is a job and that is what this facility was built on and hopefully government can try and facilitate that as we go forward.
Mr. Farrah said we’re talking about multiple tax rebates for an investment in jobs that are targeted. We’re talking about small business loan programs that will be worked on through HUD and the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development.
Mr. Farrah reported his department was still diligently working with lobbyists in the federal government to try and figure out how much of the stimulus package is going to come to the Bay Area. He said it’s an exciting and challenging time to be working at City Hall and so far the relationship with the new Board of Supervisors has been good. Most people realize the relationship between the Mayor and the Board is blown way out of proportion. The largest policy document produced by the City and County every year is the budget and traditionally that is voted on and it’s usually 10 to 1 or 11 to 0 almost every single time it goes to the full Board. We look forward to working with the Board.
Mr. Farrah thanked the Commission for inviting him and offered to answer any questions.
Chair Kennedy had questions regarding the layoffs and asked if the number was 700.
Mr. Farrah responded there were 700 positional eliminations with about 400 layoffs.
Chair Kennedy said some of those jobs will not be filled and asked if they were counted into the 700.
Mr. Farrah responded 400 human beings were laid off with 300 additional positions eliminated from the budget. He said there were new hires in some areas and they were trying to find ways to balance.
Mr. Farrah reported sitting down with labor extensively at the table. Currently there’s $90 million dollars worth of raises that are taking effect and we’re trying to hold that off and renegotiate with labor to be patient with those. There are talks about new tax measures that could go forward either in June, possibly in September, possibly in November and it’s felt in the Mayor’s office that there wasn’t time to put together a coalition that would pass this tax for June. We would have needed two thirds of the voters in San Francisco to be able to pass that and we just don’t feel we could build a coalition to pass that in June. Not to mention the fact that if you passed the tax measure in June and we have to submit the budget in June there would not be enough time.
Chair Kennedy said she understood him to say he had layoffs effective February 20th, and the second round would be February 27th. She asked if that was the 700 or were more than that expected to be laid off?
Mr. Farrah responded the 700 would be effective February 20th and a new round would be announced February 27th. He said the people would be given a period of time to prepare once they’re given notice.
Chair Kennedy asked if it was correct that notices given on February 27th would become effective May 1st?
Mr. Farrah said that was correct.
Chair Kennedy said her concern was why San Francisco did not consider asking employees to take time off without pay as other counties had done.
Mr. Farrah said it was considered and some unions agreed, and others did not. He said the laborers helped in the negotiations and so did Local 21.
Mr. Farrah felt they were productive in the conversation about what they are going to do to try and make sure that services are not cut and the city is prepared to do what they have to. He said we’re not quite there yet, but it is a step in the right direction.
Mr. Farrah said in San Francisco we have seen 13 or 14 hundred foreclosures and if you are talking Alameda or Contra Costa you are probably talking somewhere north of 25,000 foreclosures, so comparatively we are doing better than other counties. We’re not having a discussion about bankruptcy here in San Francisco and yet that is a conversation that is happening in other counties.
Commissioner Chung had a question regarding the property transfer tax. She asked when real property is sold will property transfer tax be charged?
Mr. Farrah said the property transfer tax was just raised on properties valued over 5 million dollars so the rate of revenue brought in when a property is transferred now has increased. Almost ¾ of downtown property transferred hands in the last five years and roughly $6.5 billion dollars worth of transactions happened.
Commissioner Churchwell had questions regarding the revenue raised from the taxes and yet so many people were being laid off.
Mr. Farrah said the state was considering a point and ½ sales tax so if you went up a point and ½ in San Francisco the sales tax would be over 10%, so you are looking at something that would change people’s decisions on whether they would bring a convention to San Francisco. When Oracle does their convention in San Francisco it generates $60 million dollars in economic activity, however some companies are going to Las Vegas where the facilities are more updated and in order to remain competitive San Francisco needs to generate more revenue.
Dr. Moses thanked Mr. Farrah for addressing the Commission and said an office had been set aside for the Mayor in the Southeast facility. He wondered if anyone was available to staff the office to address the issues of community members who might not be able to go downtown. He also requested the Mayor’s office consider bringing Black History Month activities to the BayView.
Mr. Farrah said Mayor Newsom wanted to move Black History Month activities to the neighborhood but the event planners wanted the events to take place at City Hall.
Mr. Farrah said it was a great idea to use the neighborhood office provided at Southeast and he had two staffers available and would see if some time could be spent at the Southeast facility.
Mr. Farrah said the Mayor was meeting regularly with neighborhood clergy and usually met at local restaurants which also helped promote local business.
Mr. Farrah thanked the Commissioners for their public service and tireless efforts.
10 PUBLIC COMMENT
The meeting was adjourned at 7:45 pm.
Carla Vaughn, Commission Secretary