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  #41  
Old Posted Apr 29, 2010, 1:48 AM
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Downtown L.A.: The Future of San Francisco's Tenderloin?


April 20, 2010

John Buntin

Read More: http://13thfloor.governing.com/2010/...enderloin.html

Quote:
I recently "put to bed" (as we say in the magazine biz) a story about San Francisco Police Chief George Gascon's efforts to clean up the Tenderloin — a neighborhood of 20,000 souls, known for its SROs (single-room occupancy — basically a residential hotel), its social services, and some serious behavioral problems, such as open air drug dealing - without changing its character. It'll be appearing soon in our May issue. But while the story is about San Francisco (and a new police chief's struggle to change the way things are done there), the backstory is really about L.A.

As attentive readers of Governing know, I have a thing for Los Angeles. But L.A.'s experiences seemed particularly relevant for several reasons. First, Chief Gascon is an LAPD veteran who started out in Hollywood Division. Back in the late 70s, Hollywood was known mainly for decrepit grandeur, run-away teens, and streetwalkers — streetwalkers by the hundreds. Today, it's one of the most popular parts of the city, a neighborhood that was recently called out by the New York Times as "one of 31 places to visit in 2009." The similarities between Hollywood in the 70s and 80s and the Tenderloin today are, as Chief Gascon noted in our conversation, striking. Indeed, the Chief told me, Hollywood's transformation is one of the things that gives him hope for the Tenderloin.

There's another striking Los Angeles parallel too — downtown. Like the Tenderloin, Los Angeles's Spring Street corridor was once a neighborhood of SROs pressing up against Skid Row. Today, despite the economic downtown, downtown Los Angeles is home to an interesting mix of affordable "micro-lofts" like the Alexandria (left), service providers, book stores, barber shorts, art galleries, cafes, and home to about 40,000 residents, many of them new to downtown living.

Here, though, the similarities end. Hollywood and, to a lesser extent, downtown L.A., have thrived by embracing development, including an element of gentrification. By contrast, most of the Tenderloin's stakeholders are adamantly opposed to gentrification. Instead, they want to improve conditions on the ground without changing the character of the neighborhood. Could such a strategy work? That's the jumping off point for my upcoming piece. Look for it in the May issue of Governing!
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  #42  
Old Posted Apr 29, 2010, 6:34 PM
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Sounds like an interesting article. A few quick thoughts:

The LA analogy if rather weak since Hollywood had enormous institutional and brand recognition and DT had the ability to draw on cultural, sports, economic and governmental institutions that could commit not only their money but could instill a sense that the project was going to be pushed through to completion. You can look at the average or even the seediest parts of DT and state with confidence that it is going to be better in 10 years. (This is really the main role of government, to give the individual or business the confidence that it will allow people to prosper and do the right thing over the long term.)

I think a closer analogy would be the East Village or SoHo areas, where there was nothing particularly attractive about the area except that the areas around it were in high demand. Once the prices were allowed to play out, development was explosive in SoHo and strong and steady in the East Village. The middle class and wealthy moved in. The same will happen in the Tenderloin if market forces prevail. If they do not, then progress will be slowed.

Physical plant can be greatly improved; people much less so. In general, substantial improvement of the neighborhood means they need to be replaced, either by their children, or by new residents. An insistence on keeping the down and out in the Tenderloin only hurts the Tenderloin; the people who would have moved there go somewhere else instead. You can only hope that their children develop their talents more fully and chose to remain in the area.
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  #43  
Old Posted Apr 29, 2010, 7:12 PM
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I don't see the analogy--the differences are greater than the similarities.

Empty buildings and empty lots aren't issues in the built-out Tenderloin the way they plagued Hollywood and big chunks of downtown LA in the '80s. Any attempt at clean-slate, mass redevelopment like what turned around Hollywood isn't possible in the Tenderloin without tearing down many beautiful, fully-occupied beaux-arts midrises. And you can't just refurbish and then reoccupy wholly abandoned blocks in the Tenderloin as they did in downtown LA, because the TL never faced that kind of widespread abandonment or severe underutilization in the first place.

Also, the Tenderloin is by no means static. Non-profit developers have added more Tenderloin housing units over the last decade than all of Chinatown, North Beach, Nob and Russian Hills combined. Only Soma and the Mission can boast the kind of continuous high-density infill that continues to rise in the Tenderloin.
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  #44  
Old Posted Apr 29, 2010, 7:31 PM
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is the new infill stuff market rate?
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  #45  
Old Posted Jun 17, 2010, 3:36 PM
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Uptown Tenderloin Momentum Continues


Jun. 17‚ 2010

By Randy Shaw

Read More: http://www.beyondchron.org/articles/...nues_8231.html

Tenderloin Website: http://uptowntl.org/

Quote:
The revival of San Francisco’s historic Uptown Tenderloin neighborhood continued this week with four developments designed to boost the area’s positive identity. First, banners are now flying highlighting the neighborhood’s over 400 historic buildings and the Uptown Tenderloin’s longtime status as the “heart of the city.” Second, a large poster is being distributed to businesses across the city identifying the area as a place where people should come to “Walk, Dine, Enjoy.” Third, a graphic presentation has been installed at the Cadillac Hotel announcing the “Future Site of the Uptown Tenderloin Museum.” And last but not least, the Uptown Tenderloin has a new website that will keep people updated on activities of interest in the neighborhood. These and other efforts reflect a public-private partnership among the North of Market/Tenderloin Community Benefits District (CBD), Academy of Art University, the Mayor’s Office and other groups to support the Uptown Tenderloin’s revival.

In 2008, I got a call from Elisa Stephens, President of the Academy of Art University saying she had heard the Uptown Tenderloin was becoming a national historic district and asking if her school could provide any help. She soon agreed to a class project where students “rebranded” the neighborhood by designing posters, banners, bus shelter signs, t-shirts, stationary etc. Under the guidance of Professor Tom McNulty, the students did a remarkable job. The most popular creations were a poster by Colby Long, and a banner by Kayla Jones. Long’s 60’s style, modernistic Uptown Tenderloin poster is now being distributed across the city (McNulty got us a bargain on production) and Jones’ “409 historic buildings: Yeah, We’re Proud” banner is hanging throughout the community. Under the guidance of Professor Tom McNulty, the students did a remarkable job. The most popular creations were a poster by Colby Long, and a banner by Kayla Jones. Long’s 60’s style, modernistic Uptown Tenderloin poster is now being distributed across the city (McNulty got us a bargain on production) and Jones’ “409 historic buildings: Yeah, We’re Proud” banner is hanging throughout the community.

Long, who worked as a Mission District bartender while attending school, got ideas for his design by talking to his customers about the Uptown Tenderloin. He discovered that most knew little about the neighborhood, and became interested once Long began discussing its history. This led us to realize that if people saw a poster about the Uptown Tenderloin, and liked its gritty, urban imagery, that it could attract San Franciscans to visit our historic buildings and patronize neighborhood restaurants and bars. McNulty’s class treated us like we were paying clients, and the outstanding results reflect the Academy’s commitment to this project.
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  #46  
Old Posted Jun 17, 2010, 5:11 PM
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"Uptown Tenderloin" is new to me--have its creators announced which existing areas are to be included within its fictional borders?
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  #47  
Old Posted Jun 17, 2010, 5:29 PM
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I have to say, I walked through this neighborhood on a tourist visit to San Francisco during the daytime, perhaps 10 years ago, and I did not have a clue that it was a "bad" neighborhood.
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  #48  
Old Posted Jun 17, 2010, 7:56 PM
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Originally Posted by 10023 View Post
I have to say, I walked through this neighborhood on a tourist visit to San Francisco during the daytime, perhaps 10 years ago, and I did not have a clue that it was a "bad" neighborhood.
Haha. That's what I've been saying through this thread. If your frame of reference is suburban Atlanta, it's "bad" and you'll notice. But if your frame is NYC or some other really big city, it's not especially bad at all and definitely has only a few blocks that might cause you a raised eyebrow. the surprising thing to me is how the professed "urbanists" and "grit lovers" of SSP seem to find it so bad. I really thought they'd worship it.

With regard to the "Uptown Tenderloin", I never heard of it before either but I was in a place at Larkin and Turk (Larkin/Turk Deli) for lunch the other day and some guy came in and was telling the owner about new signs and posters going up in the 'hood (maybe analogous to the ones that announce other "historic" neighborhoods). This might be something the merchants are doing.

I saw a snarky remark on CurbedSF today about a property claiming to be on Nob Hill that "actually is on Nob Hill" because, as most San Franciscans know, it's pretty easy to blur the border between the southern slope of Nob Hill and the upslope reaches of the Tenderloin. Maybe that's what's going on with the "Uptown Tenderloin".
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  #49  
Old Posted Jun 17, 2010, 11:12 PM
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^ Yep. Then again I was about 8 or 9 years old the first time I saw a dead junkie (needle still in his arm) in a Paris metro station so I'm not really shocked by most Americans' definition of "grit".
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  #50  
Old Posted Jun 18, 2010, 5:46 PM
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I am pretty sure you guys had an identical conversation about the term "Uptown Tenderloin" a couple weeks ago.
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  #51  
Old Posted Jun 18, 2010, 6:12 PM
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I think oftentimes when people judge certain neighborhoods, they're not particularly judging the neighborhood but the types of people living in the neighborhood. When you say "The Mission is so cool!" it's not like you love the street, you love the vibrancy and distinct character assigned to it by its residents and businesses. Much like you can't separate Castro from the homosexual population or Pacific Heights from its old money wealth, you can't separate Tenderloin for its relatively large SRO population.

I think we all have to remember that we might be talking about the Tenderloin as visitors or 3rd party observers, but that the Tenderloin is full of real people. People that you or I on an internet board don't know, and don't interact with, but people who are trying to get by just like all of us. Whether or not it's the 6 person newly immigrated Vietnamese family in a 1 bedroom SRO, or the recovering drug addict, or the yuppie in the micro-condo loft, or whoever, we're all trying to get by. I think the initial discomfort comes from the fact that most of us (people with internet who participate on message boards and read blogs) don't live in a type of place where real struggle occurs in front of your face every single day, so seeing it makes us uncomfortable. But it's reality, and we've probably all been sheltered so long that we don't truly understand or empathize what it's like to struggle.
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  #52  
Old Posted Jul 18, 2010, 2:56 AM
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The Tenderloin is one of my favorite parts of San Francisco. It houses several of my favorite bars and restaurants and the whole area has a kind of faded elegance that the Mission can never hope to have.

If I see tourists walking towards the Tenderloin, especially ones with kids, I'll stop them and ask if they need directions. It isn't that I think they'll be mugged or shot, but the place is simply too... colorful for your average tourist.

Now, if a tourist knows exactly what they're getting into, I see no reason not to hold tours as long as their liability insurance is fully paid up.
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