City and County of San FranciscoSan Francisco Arts Commission

September 12, 2012

Street Artists Committee - September 12, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012
2:30 p.m.

25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70
San Francisco, CA 94102


Commissioner Chew, Chair, called the meeting to order at 2:35 p.m.

1. Roll Call
Commissioners Present:

Greg Chew, Chair
John Calloway
Jessica Silverman

Commissioners Absent: Amy Chuang

Staff present: Arts Commission Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny, Street Artists Program Director Howard Lazar, Street Artists Program Assistant Alyssa Licouris

Commissioner Chew welcomed the Commissioners and Police Officer Robinson acting as the sergeant-at-arms.

3. Action. Hearing and possible motion to approve concept of a voluntary pilot program at Hallidie Plaza submitted by Union Square Business Improvement District for street artists to display their wares in uniform display booths furnished by the Union Square Business Improvement District.

Program Director Lazar described the proposal from the Union Square Business Improvement District (“BID”) about the Hallidie Plaza street artist spaces. He reported that a study was done by the BID’s Streetscapes Committee whose members are interested in improving public spaces. He stated that the Committee wants to help upgrade the plaza to be a more inviting place for people to gather. He reported that he, Union Square BID, MJM Management team, Program Assistant Licouris and a few street artists joined together to design a uniform street artist booth which would hopefully help attract customers and improve the business of the artists. He reported that the proposal would require the Hallidie Plaza spaces to be exempted by the Board of Supervisors from the 3’x4’x5’ display size regulations because the proposed display would be 3’x5’x7’. He stated that the proposal would call for a 1 year pilot program which would be voluntary for the artists and not enforceable.

Commissioner Calloway asked about the relationship between MJM Management and Union Square Live (formerly Jewels in the Square) to see if he had a conflict of interest.

Ms. Donna Ficarotta of the BID said that MJM Management is contracted by the BID. She said that the BID is a sponsor of Union Square Live.

Director DeCaigny was not certain if it was a conflict of interest. He recommended that the Street Artists Committee meeting go forward with the presentation and asked Ms. Ficarotta to explain their relationship with Union Square Live. He stated that if there is a conflict, that the Commissioners could still continue with the presentation and table the motion to the full Arts Commission’s October meeting. He said he did not see a problem for the Commission since the cost of the proposal’s uniform displays would be free to the Arts Commission and no Commission funds would be granted.

Ms. Ficarotta and Mr. Stephan Ciulla, architect and member of Streetscapes Committee and of the Office of Stephan Ciulla Architecture, presented the proposal. Ms. Ficarotta stated that the Union Square BID was the first in the city when it was formed 10 years ago. She explained that the BID was created by property owners to provide extra services. She stated that the BID contracts with MJM Management as a service provider and that Union Square Live and MJM Management have a relationship together while the BID is a sponsor of Union Square Live.

Ms. Ficarotta explained that Hallidie Plaza is the “gateway to Union Square” since it is a central transportation hub and houses the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau. Ms. Ficarotta reported that the BID was successful at widening Powell Street and turning it into a promenade area. She stated that the BID wants to improve Hallidie Plaza since it’s the first place visitors see. She said that they are aiming to base the design on Times Square and the High Line in New York City to help mark the area more clearly, add programming, and improve landscaping and seating to activate the area for lunchtime activities such as film festivals and America’s Cup events.

Ms. Ficarotta explained that the street artists are part of the Hallidie Plaza vision. She explained that the proposal is to have a street artist display that is beautiful, adaptable, and lightweight which could be flexible for the different artists and their art. She explained that the BID would store the displays for artists to check them out on a daily basis. She asked for the Commissioners’ support for the pilot program and explained that the BID would fund 2 to 3 displays to see how artists use them and respond to the pilot program.

Mr. Ciulla explained that the displays would help all artists, regardless of their craft, to build cohesion of the group and hopefully elevate the status of the artists. He explained that some of the artists had expressed their needs regarding issues with weather, space, and backdrop area. He stated that the design is based on the idea that it must be flexible so it can meet the needs of any artist. He explained in detail the different qualities of the display.

Ms. Mary McCue of MJM Management said that the artists at Hallidie Plaza were obscure and that her main interest was to help the artists become sustainable. She explained that, as a partner of the city, she felt that the City was not doing a good enough job to help the artists in the Hallidie Plaza area. She stated that other activity at the Plaza hinders the artists’ activity, and she wanted to help the artists to be seen and attract the public to their displays. She referred to Justin Herman Plaza as an example of a group of artists clearly demarcated. She stated that she wanted the artists to gain more respect.

Program Director Lazar reiterated that the pilot program would not be enforceable and that neither the Arts Commission nor the Street Artists Program is paying for the program.

Commissioner Chew agreed that he thought New York’s High Line was very successful. He urged the Union Square BID staff to get street artists’ opinions and added input about the display design.

In answer to a question by Director DeCaigny about the pilot program logistics, Program Director Lazar answered that the street artists would still need to be part of the lottery space-assignment system and that they would pick up the uniform displays from an adjacent storage site based on the lottery’s ranking order.

Ms. Ficarotta said that they were still working out the details of the logistics, but Ms. McCue verified that MJM Management would be open at all hours to accommodate the artists using and returning the displays.

Mr. Ciulla submitted a scale model of the proposed display and noted that the displays would be collapsible with threaded connections.

Commissioner Calloway asked about the details of the Hallidie Plaza uniform display. Program Director Lazar replied that the artists would still be subject to the Street Artists Ordinance and staff monitoring. Commissioner Calloway posed a question about how the surrounding environment will be affected.
Ms. Ficarotta responded by noting that she wants the space to be activated and believes that if more people are at the Plaza doing positive things, then that would help to discourage unwanted behavior.

Commissioner Chew commented that he again would like to get street artists’ opinion.

Ms. McCue stated she was hoping the pilot program could be used so feedback about the artists’ likes and dislikes could be received.

Mr. Ciulla explained that good, positive feedback had been received from street artists John Ndoli and Enrique Perez about the model display.

Program Director Lazar responded in the positive to a request by Ms. McCue on whether the Program is able to forward e-mails from MJM Management to the street artists.

Director DeCaigny asked that the motion be tabled to the full Arts Commission’s meeting in October although he said he didn’t feel that there was a conflict of interest with respect to Commissioner Calloway and the BID.

Public Comment:

Street Artist Tad Sky proposed that the proposed display have wheels. He said he had just visited Hallidie Plaza and found that many of the artists were in opposition to the display but he also noted that if it is larger, it should be popular among the artists. He reported that Hallidie Plaza is a tough area to work in and that the artists are scared of the dancers because they steal and are loud. He said that the pilot program could become popular among the artists already at the Plaza. He applauded the efforts of the BID people and thanked them.

Program Director Lazar noted that the artists at the end of the day would not have to dismantle the new displays and take them home and that this would benefit them.

Street Artist Maria Hillius commented that a visitor at Hallidie Plaza wouldn’t know which person is a street artist and which is an illegal vendor. She stated that she thought that the proposed uniform displays would help distinguish the group of street artists and make the illegal vendors leave the area since they would not fit in anymore.

Street Artist Kathy Hallinan seconded Tad Sky’s comments. She thanked the Union Square BID. She said that the artists contribute to the community, and said that although she won’t sell at Hallidie Plaza, artists will become interested in the idea.

Street Artist John Tunui stated that this proposal is a great opportunity for the street artists to work with their neighbors. He appreciated the business community reaching out to the street artists. He stated that he was grateful for the help to improve the artists’ markets and their ability to sell. He stated that the idea of free table displays will become popular. He stated that the proposal was a good start and thanked the Union Square BID for reaching out.

Program Director Lazar noted that John Tunui is the artists’ elected Market Manager at Justin Herman Plaza and Tad Sky is the former Market Manager.

Commissioner Calloway stated it was a positive idea for the plaza.

Commissioner Chew stated that the motion would be tabled as Program Director Lazar had said it would be put on the October full Arts Commission agenda.

Director DeCaigny recommended combining item #3 and #4 into one item for the Arts Commission agenda.

Program Director Lazar stated that the Board of Supervisors legislation would have to include an exemption of the spaces from the regulation of 5 feet between artists’ displays since the displays would be wider and would diminish the space between them.

4. Action. Hearing and possible motion to authorize Program Director to request Board of Supervisors to issue a temporary one-year exemption of Hallidie Plaza street artists spaces from regulations of Section 2405 (c) (3) & (4) which requires street artists spaces to be 3’ x 4’ x 5’.

This item was tabled for the full Arts Commission meeting in October and is to be combined with item #3.

5. Action. Hearing and possible motion to approve text recommended by William J. Clark and Robert J. Clark amending minutes of Street Artists Committee meeting of January 12, 2011 to include information not previously recorded due to audio recording failure.

Program Director Lazar explained that there was an interchange of conversation between Robert Clark and former Director of Cultural Affairs Luis Cancel that did not get recorded on the audio tape. Program Director Lazar stated that the Program staff were not aware the recorder failed to record; furthermore, the interchange did not occur when he flipped the tape to the unrecorded side. Mr. Clark and Mr. Clark submitted recommended text for the possible amended minutes which Program Director Lazar reviewed with the City Attorney. Program Director Lazar recommended that the motion be approved to amend the minutes.

In answer to Commissioner Chew’s question, Program Director Lazar responded that the text would be a further amendment to the minutes of January 2011.

Motion: Motion to approve text recommended by William J. Clark and Robert J. Clark amending minutes of Street Artists Committee meeting of January 12, 2011 to include information not previously recorded due to audio recording failure.
Moved: Silverman, Calloway.

Commissioner Chew called for public comment. There was no public comment.

The motion was unanimously approved.

2. Discussion. Street Artists Program Director’s Report.

Program Director Lazar reported on the following:

Letter from Paula Datesh: Program Director Lazar received a letter from former street artist Paula Datesh which she wanted read at the meeting. He stated that he contacted Ms. Datesh that he was submitting copies of her letter to the Commissioners and putting a copy in the public file available at the meeting and that he would mention her letter at the meeting.

Kathy Hallinan saves Jefferson Street trees: Program Director Lazar applauded street artist Kathleen Hallinan’s efforts to save trees on Jefferson Street from the street’s reconstruction plan. He stated that the plan included the destruction of 25 trees, but with the help of the Sierra Club and a scientist, Ms. Hallinan saved 21 trees. Program Director Lazar reported that she singlehandedly worked towards her goal and always kept Program Director Lazar in the loop. He commended her for her success and her gentility and graciousness while working with the City departments.

Street Artist Kathy Hallinan said she wanted to thank the Port and DPW. She also formed a coalition with the Sierra Club, SF Forest Alliance, and a butterfly lepidopterist. She said he hopes to arrange a meeting with the Port to educate their tenants about the unique butterfly habitat in the trees they have on Jefferson Street. She also stated she met with an arborist. Ms. Hallinan said saving the trees was not only important for the species’ habitat but also for the cleansing of environment for artists.

Port thank you: Program Director Lazar said he was grateful to work with Port Property Manager Rip Malloy and thanked him for coming to the meeting. He said he’s exploring locations to relocate artists during the reconstruction of Jefferson Street. He explained that the street artists’ 9 spaces are the best spaces at the Wharf and he would be grateful for any help that Mr. Malloy can give the Program. Program Director Lazar reported that Mr. Malloy said he’d be contacting him and that he would keep the Commissioners informed of the situation.

Public Comment:

Street Artist Tad Sky stated that he hopes to work with the Port on this project. As a Justin Herman Plaza artist when there had been reconstitution of the Plaza, he and the other artists worked with the main building inspector and accommodated the areas that were under construction by moving around so they didn’t lose any selling days. He stated that since pedestrians need to walk along Jefferson Street, too, there shouldn’t be a problem to find temporary locations for the street artists. Mr. Sky noted that the artists add value and ambiance for the visitors. He said that he would hate to lose the spaces after 40 years. He thanked Mr. Malloy for considering the artists.

Street Artist Kathy Hallinan seconded Mr. Sky’s words. She said that she worked with the Port previously in 1994 to get 2 extra spaces. She stated that the staff were welcoming and invited them to work together in the future. She stated that everything on her table is handmade and it shows that the artists have something to offer. She said she was looking forward to working with the Port and that the street artists will accommodate the Port since a resolution states the rules that must be abided by the street artists. She said that they have the tools available to them to work with Program Director Lazar to ensure that the street artists will accommodate the Port. She stated that the street artists have a lot to offer and she looks forward to working with the surrounding communities.

Program Director Lazar clarified that Ms. Hallinan was referring to the Port Resolution of 1995 which stipulated conditions for street artists, maps of the locations and a provision for Port staff to revisit street artists sites at any time.

Mr. Rip Malloy, Port Property Manager, said he was sent to today’s meeting by the Port to make sure everyone was “on the same page”. He stated that their main concern is the safety of all while the reconstruction project occurs. He noted that the project was headed by DPW even though it is on Port property. He agreed that the project can be phased in different parts since stores in the Wharf need to remain open during construction. He explained the “blue” line at the Wharf; the side of the street with the Anchorage is private property while the other side is Port property. He said it is unreasonable to say that everything must be removed during construction since many documents and contracts have not been completed yet. He said that a lot of elements make this project very difficult but that he wants to find a location for the street artists. He commented on the tree situation that Kathy Hallinan worked on. He said the artist who made a rendering of the street for DPW did not include the trees in his rendering and they were then considered by the project manager to be slated for removal. Mr. Malloy described a possible scenario of creating a “parklet” area by the tank wall which the Port would like to remove. He said it’s important for everyone to get along in case the “parklet” does get created. He requested to have one contact person with whom he could communicate at the Arts Commission to be either Program Director Lazar or Program Assistant Licouris. He said the Port wants to find a solution and does not want to jeopardize the project that DPW has graciously offered to support.

Program Director Lazar replied that his office is always open to Mr. Malloy. He said it would be an honor to work with him and the Port staff. He stated that he’s worked successfully with the Port and other departments in the past.

Mr. Malloy and Program Director Lazar exchanged comments about working together in the future and possibly using the idea of the Hallidie Plaza displays for the Wharf artists. They agreed that they want to make the western end of the Wharf a “destination point”.

Street Artist John Tunui stated that the street artists value their presence on Port property. Mr. Tunui urged others to relay conversation through Program Director Lazar stating that the street artists want to be good neighbors with the Port. He stated that he collected names of artists who feel the same way. He stated that the Street Artists Program has some “lose cannons” in its group of artists, but they all value their jobs.

Street Artist Maria Hillius said she and Kathy Hallinan worked together in 1995 with the Port to get spaces. She suggested that Program Director Lazar allow street artists to give him ideas regarding the Port.

Street Artist Kathy Hallinan explained the situation regarding the artist spray painters at the Wharf. She stated it was due to her efforts that the Port studied the spray painters’ fumes and how they affected the public. Now, she said, these artists all have to have enclosed glass displays to help protect the public.

6. Discussion. Public Comment.

Street Artist Tad Sky asked the Committee and Arts Commission staff to give a statement about the Civil Grand Jury report regarding the findings of the Street Artists Program.

Commissioner Chew commented that he was confused with the Grand Jury’s point that the Arts Commission has a lack of interest in the program, since the 40th anniversary celebration just recently occurred. He also noted that it didn’t seem to him that there were facts to substantiate the allegations that were made.

Director of Cultural Affairs DeCaigny said that the Grand Jury report was issued in July. He explained that the Arts Commission has 60 days to officially respond and that this week the Arts Commission’s draft responses will be sent to the Mayor’s office for consolidation of all of the responses of the City partners that were asked to respond. He continued to explain the method that the Arts Commission is allowed for its response and said that Program Director Lazar has been working closely with Deputy Director Rebekah Krell to draft responses to the Street Artists Program section of the report. He said that the Grand Jury report took on a number of investigations in-depth and that some of the issues are already being worked on while a number of them related to limited resources and staff. He also explained that there was some misinformation in the report and that the response will address any unsubstantiated misinformation. He reported that the full response will be issued on September 24 and that the full Arts Commission will speak about it at one of its upcoming meetings.

Street Artist Maria Hillius commented about the Grand Jury report. She did not favor the recommendation that the Street Artists Program be disconnected from the Arts Commission. She reported that about two years ago over 200 artists signed a petition saying they wanted to remain with the Arts Commission. [At the Street Artists Committee meeting of May 6, 2009, Ms. Hillius presented a petition of 217 artists.]

There was no further public comment.

7. Discussion. New Business and Announcements.

Street Artist Maria Hillius asked that a committee be created to help Program Director Lazar with investigating temporary locations for the artists during the Jefferson Street reconstruction project.

There was no further new business or announcements.

There was no public comment.

8. Action. Adjournment.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:50 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by:
Alyssa Licouris, Street Artists Program Assistant

Minutes approved by:
Howard Lazar, Street Artists Program Director

ADL 9/25/12

Additional Explanatory documents submitted by the public at the meeting: Item #3 and #4: Updated Diagram of Proposed Street Artists Display submitted by Stephan Ciulla; Item #2: Letter from Paula Datesh.

An audio recording of this meeting is available online at the following address: