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Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council
Elements of Effective Community Policing of the Haight-Ashbury
“Police strategies and tactics must be driven by accurate, timely and reliable information supplied by current and emerging technologies and supported by the Department's systematic engagement of all of San Francisco's diverse neighborhoods.” (The SFPD Vision Statement)
The Haight-Ashbury is a residential neighborhood of more than 20,000 people. The overwhelming majority neither shop nor live on Haight Street. While Haight Street draws some 10,000 visitors a day in summer, is host to the second largest street fair in San Francisco and is also a regional destination of specialty retail shops , it itself has more residential uses than commercial. Indeed, often times events occurring off Haight street itself, in Golden Gate Park, for example, effect conditions on Haight Street. Any attempt to define the neighborhood’s primary policing needs as being determined by Haight Street misses the needs of the residents of the neighborhood and would therefore be doomed to be an expensive failure in the allocation of scarce public resources contradicting the stated mission of the SFPD to manage “our resources in a careful, efficient and effective manner” ( SFPD Mission Statement).
Elements of Effective Community Policing in the Haight-Ashbury
It is the policy of the SFPD to establish “Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving (COPPS) as an integral part of district station policing” ( Department General Order, 3.11). Applying this policy to the Haight-Ashbury would have to place the policing of Haight Street in the context of the community policing needs of the entire neighborhood.
Below is a list of four primary elements that would make up an effective and comprehensive “community policing” effort in the Haight-Ashbury in the opinion of the Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council. The order of presentation of these elements does not indicate primacy of subject as all four, combined, must be part of any successful effort.
What happens on Haight Street rarely stays on Haight Street, and oftentimes doesn’t even start on Haight Street.
The need is for constant, predictable, visible and persistent patrols on Haight Street, Page Street and Waller Street from Stanyan to Baker. Additionally, the Panhandle must be viewed as an integral part of the policing of Haight Street as the two are linked by both residents and visitors. Foot patrols should be maximized on Haight Street while regular bicycle patrols should be the primary means used in the Panhandle. Regular car patrols can be used to supplement foot patrols for Page and Waller streets.
Care should be taken by the SFPD to pay particular attention to the area around Park Station itself, especially the area around the intersection of Haight and Stanyan, as it is a heavily used pedestrian, transit and automobile corridor with major retailers – McDonald’s, Amoeba and the proposed Whole Foods - joining the Alvord Lake, Children Playground, and Golden Gate Park pedestrian entrance creating a complex mix of tourist, visitor, shopper and resident users. Community attempts to smooth out these complex interactions through more police presence and various traffic calming proposals should be supported by Park Station.
GOLDEN GATE PARK
No neighborhood is more directly linked to activities in Golden Gate Park (GGP) than is the Haight-Ashbury. The eastern end of GGP is the location of several large public events from the Aids Walk and Bay to Breakers to Opera in the Park; Kezar Stadium and Pavilion host both school and professional sporting events, including major cross town high school rivalries and the AAA Turkey Day Championship. These events impact the neighborhood and add to the complex mix on Haight Street. All too often co-ordination between Park Station, Recreation and Parks Department, event sponsors, and the neighborhood are poor to barely adequate.
An effective community policing program in the Haight-Ashbury must emphasize participation and planning between police, event sponsors , Recreation and Parks and SFMTA to manage and minimize neighborhood impacts of major events in GGP.
The Haight-Ashbury has an incredible array of social, health and service institutions located in the neighborhood. From UCSF and St Mary’s, to USF, the Urban School, the French American School, John Adams Community College, three SFUSD primary schools, scores of residential social services, three childcare facilities and several board and care facilities the Haight Ashbury has a daytime population of staff and visitors to these intuitions that more than doubles the size of the neighborhood on work days. This huge community institutional base creates both special needs and special challenges for the institutions themselves, police and the neighborhood.
For example there needs to be police presence at pick up and drop off times at the neighborhood’s schools with particular attention paid pedestrian and parking issues at day care and primary schools.
Any successful community policing program in the Haight-Ashbury must have Park Station “at the table” with these intuitions in an ongoing and predictable manner. Park Station should view these neighborhood based institutions as potential resources in dealing with the special needs of certain populations. The old saying that “when you need a friend it is too late to make a friend” obtains here. Park station should be leaning forward in making friends of these community institutions and their neighbors.
The Haight-Ashbury, given its location next to GGP, its concentration of major hospitals its large numbers of schools and social services and its possible large number of tourists (depending on the time of year) will have a particularly difficult set of challenges unlike many residential neighborhoods in the event of a major earthquake. GGP is a major Citywide resource as a place to temporarily house homeless earthquake victims. St Mary’s and UCSF will have special demands placed upon them. The neighborhood’s schools and residential social services may well have populations with special needs unable to be met in place. The official plan of San Francisco is that we are all to be on “our own” for “the first 72 hours”.
While the SFFD is the official “lead agency” in an earthquake, Park Station must have a plan and that plan should involve residents, merchants and our “community institutions”. Park Station along with the SFFD should take the lead in letting its community partners know what its capability and needs are in an earthquake. The sooner we know the sooner we will be able to plan a neighborhood emergency response plan which includes Park Station and a realistic appraisal of our needs for the first 72 hours during which we will be on our own.
These four elements of an effective community policing plan can address the general needs of our neighborhood and also, if augmented by additional discussions and suggestions from the community, guide the very special needs of any block in our neighborhood. HANC calls upon Park Station to begin the “systematic engagement” of the neighbored in the creation of the Haight Ashbury Comprehensive Community Policing Plan based upon these, or other, community suggestions.
HANC will address the issue of parking at its Dec. 10th General Meeting. It’s not as simple as it
appears and, perhaps, should be.
The complexity around the issue starts with the fact that two local agencies—the SFMTA and the SFCTA—have a joint interest in the subject, though for different reasons. The matter is made
even more complex in that each agency has recently completed detailed studies of the issue that are often confused with each other.
HANC will attempt to get to the heart of the matter by inviting representatives of both agencies to the December meeting: Jesse Koehler of the SFCTA and Jay Primus of SFMTA.
The new SFUSD school year has now begun, and that means that the public school kids in our neighborhood are back to being students again. So what better time to have an event to showcase the public schools in our neighborhood? The “Back to School Night” General Meeting sponsored by HANC will take place on Thursday, September 10, at 7 PM, at the Park Branch Library (1833 Page Street between Cole and Shrader Streets).
At this meeting you will have the opportunity to hear and have exchanges with representatives from the following schools: Grattan; New Traditions; McKinley; and the brand new Chinese Immersion School at DeAvila. Topics will include: general school overviews; special features about the schools; Green Learning; and possible volunteer opportunities for neighborhood residents.
In addition, a representative from the SFUSD Admissions Office will discuss enrollment issues. And, of course, there will be Q&A.
The mosaics are inspired by conversations between youth in Uganda, Africa and youth at the Boys and Girls Club. Words were chosen from these conversations and used as a start point for the designs. Youth and Staff at the Boys and Girls Club have been making ceramic tiles for the mural with Artist, Sharon Virtue. The project was funded by the San Francisco Arts Commission.
The murals are installed on the large walls outside the Clubhouse on the Page Street facade.
or call 415 861 3851
Update on Cala Site
By Calvin Welch, HANC Board
It has been about two months since the public hearing on the Environmental Impact Report on the proposed condo and Whole Foods development proposal at 690 Stanyan, the site of the old CALA store at Stanyan and Haight Streets. The massive seven floor (including the three floors of underground parking for 176 cars), 205,000 s/f development will be nine times the total size of the previous CALA with nearly four times the off-street parking space of the existing use.
The overwhelming size of the proposed development, its covering of nearly the entire surface site of two lots, its continuation of the Frankenstein design used by the owner at his Haight and Cole Streets property, and the estimated 2,000 car trips a day it will generate, was the subject of a full EIR and also the subject of HANC’s and neighbors testimony about the failure of the EIR to adequately and completely discuss the projects impacts, especially its horrid design and its traffic and parking impacts on public transit, Golden Gate Park and the immediate neighbors, seven of whom provided testimony, along with HANC, opposing these impacts and asking the developer (and the Planning Commission) to change the design and reduce the size of the project.
The approval process for the project requires the approval of a “final” EIR, then the approval of the project and then the approval of a demolition permit for the existing CALA building. For the “draft” EIR that was heard on February 28th to be made “final” all of the comments submitted at the hearing and/or in writing must be answered by the project sponsor.
According to the Planning Department, they have yet to receive these “responses” to the public “comments”. They cannot process the EIR until the developer “responses” have been received. In addition, Ms. Jones of the Planning Department has said that “additional analysis necessary to respond to some of the comments” has also been requested by the department and the developer’s consultants have yet to provide this analysis. The progress on the EIR is thus somewhat stalled, with no time certain as to when the developer will provide the required information.
The question of the project’s design also seems to be in flux with two Planning Commissioners and a senior Planner telling the Voice that the design has been the subject of continued discussion between the department and the developer and that changes can be expected.