United Playaz celebrates new home in SoMa
The motto of the United Playaz is “It takes the hood to save the hood.”
Over the past year the antiviolence youth organization has demonstrated that when your home is high-flying South of Market it takes a lot of friends — not to mention money — to buy a piece of the hood.
On Wednesday, United Playaz celebrated the $1.4 million acquisition of 1038 Howard St., its single-story clubhouse that draws hundreds of at-risk kids from Bessie Carmichael Elementary School as well as from the residential hotels around the corner on Sixth Street.
Starting with $400,000 from the SoMa Stabilization Fund, a pool of community impact fees collected from Rincon Hill developers, the organization raised another $800,000 from private groups like Polaris Pacific, Strada Investment Group, Trumark Urban, Forest City, Platinum Advisors and Millennium Partners.
At the celebration, Mayor Ed Lee said that the stabilization fund, which was set up by former Supervisor Chris Daly, was an acknowledgment that small community groups like United Playaz could easily become victims in a rapidly rising real estate market.
“We realized that change was coming about, and if the neighborhood nonprofits were going to prevent themselves from being victimized by the market they would have to figure this out quickly,” Lee said.
At the celebration, United Playaz Executive Director Rudy Corpuz , who was in and out of prison before turning his life around two decades ago, introduced UP staff members who had served long prison sentences before “finding redemption” through working with inner-city kids.
“You want to find solutions to curbing the violence? These brothers right here, working with SFPD and working right here with the kids, that’s the answer,” he said. “It’s about caring. It’s about compassion. And it’s about love. That is what this center is about.”
— J.K. Dineen
Palace plan: The word “iconic” is thrown around far too frequently, but in the case of the Palace of Fine Arts, it’s justified.
The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department has issued a request for concept proposals “for the long-term lease of the iconic Palace of Fine Arts building,” which Rec and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg accurately describes as “a unique business opportunity in one of San Francisco’s most iconic properties.”
“Approaching the centennial of the Palace, the city welcomes ideas on how to partner with us in preserving the Palace and to reimagine the building that can be enjoyed by San Franciscans for generations to come,” Ginsburg said.
Designed by architect Bernard Maybeck for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, the Palace for years was home to the Exploratorium. The building is 140,000 square feet but could be increased to 175,000 “without exterior additions.”
The building could be repurposed for “recreational use,” a category that permits a wide variety of uses that would generate revenue to offset the selected tenant’s investment costs. Groups taking a look at the building include the Academy of Art University, Orton Development, the Bay Club, Bladium Sports and Fitness Club, Ellis Partners and David Koch Theater of New York.
“It’s going to be an expensive project to pull off, but I still think it should be a public use,” said Rich Hillis, who heads up Fort Mason. “It shouldn’t be turned over to an office user.”
— J.K. Dineen
Children have long been sent to the bench during recess, punished for chewing gum, sassing the teacher, running in the hallway or failing to do their homework.
Now, the San Francisco Unified School District’s new wellness policy, passed unanimously by the school board this week, calls for a long list of practices aimed at increasing students’ health and wellness. They include: “District staff shall use restorative approaches to support positive student behaviors and will not withhold recess or other physical activity or physical education as a form of punishment.”
While a ban on benching might be cheered by the kids, there were some points in the wellness policy likely to draw pouts, including a kibosh on celebratory cookies and cakes.
The new wellness policy isn’t an absolute requirement, but it will be highly encouraged: “School administrators and staff shall actively participate in ensuring their school is in compliance with the policy and establishing a school climate that encourages and does not stigmatize healthy eating and physical activity,” it states
— Jill Tucker
No parking: If it has to do with parking, you can be sure San Franciscans will argue. As mentioned in our Monday story on residential parking permits, the 39-year-old city program is pitting neighbor against neighbor.
Since that story ran, we’ve heard from a lot of folks upset about the program, which allows neighborhoods to create zones in which residents can buy stickers for their cars that let them ignore parking time limits. Odd as it may seem, some folks don’t like that advantage.
Municipal Transportation Agency officials had said that no neighborhoods have ever had buyer’s remorse and acted to have their zones rescinded. But some deeper digging by MTA staffers found that two zones have been eliminated, and two short stretches of street have been removed from zone, at the behest of neighbors who decided they didn’t like the program after all.
The original Area Q in the Bayview (a new Area Q was just created in Alamo Square) was rescinded in its entirety by the MTA board in 2001 and temporary Area AA, which had been created on Lombard Street between Hyde and Leavenworth streets to accommodate residents during the reconstruction of the crooked stretch of street, was eliminated sometime in the 1990s after the work was completed.
Faxon Avenue between Elmwood Way and Wildwood Way was eliminated from Area V in 2014, and Rockwood Court between Rockaway Avenue and Ulloa Street was removed from Area T in 2011. And about 110 feet of the west side of Laguna Honda Boulevard near Merced Avenue left Area T when parking was removed to become part of a bike lane.
— Michael Cabanatuan
J.K. Dineen, Jill Tucker and Michael Cabanatuan