Dot-Colonization 2:


root - Posted on 31 December 1969

Hundreds of San Francisco residents rally against gentrification at the Planning Commission

by Kaponda

The fury and strength of the passionate crowd was matched only by the intensity of the sun's torrid rays at midday. A cross section of artists, activists, representatives from community organizations, small business merchants, and residents of the Mission District and other neighborhoods came to City Hall to express disapproval of the runaway tactics used by members of the San Francisco Planning Commission in making decisions. The outraged had been building since the approval of a proposed high-tech office complex by the Planning Commission. The Bryant Square project, the name by which it is known, was sanctioned by the Board of Supervisors on June 26, 2000.

There have been many meetings since that Monday in June when the policy-making body of San Francisco gave SKS Investments a license to destroy the cultural and social fabric of the Mission District. There have also been two major protests by both those people who will immediately feel the adverse economic effect of the new development and those people whom it will impact subsequently.

The site of the first event was Horrace Mann Middle School on Wednesday, June 28th. Members of the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors member, Tom Ammiano, listened as a boisterous cadre of protesters forecasted the dire consequences that would result from decision- and policy-makers having approved and sanctioned the SKS Investments' venomous project.

The second protest occurred on Thursday, July 13, 2000. There were in excess of 500 people, both on the steps of City Hall and in the streets, present at the event. They were there to emphasize to the entire Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission that their decision to give an amoral complex permission to develop in the Mission District will displace an entire community of small businesses, artists and residents.

The protest was deliberately scheduled to coincide with the Planning Commission's meeting at City Hall. Mission Anti-displacement Coalition (MAC) coordinated the protest, the strategy of which included a contingent of supporters marching to notable sites in the displacement struggle, and a delegation expressing its discontent at the Planning Commission meeting.

A member of the MAC organization, Sam Luiz, of Bernal Heights, echoed the sentiments of residents throughout the Bay Area who are directly affected by decisions authorizing development of high-tech industries in their communities; and, specifically, those people who will be affected by the approval of the Bryant Square project in the Mission District.

"It really is a beautiful feeling to see so many people representing so many segments of our community. The colors that are here should definitely move anyone inside of City Hall, particularly, this afternoon...." Sam Luiz began his moving speech," This afternoon we are here to remind the San Francisco City Planning Department and the San Francisco City Planning Commission that when they came to the Mission two weeks ago, many people stated clearly and openly that, 'We can't take it anymore. and that the displacement of working class families in our community must stop! Achieving progress in our community must be a goal, but it must be a common goal, and it must be inclusive and respect the contributions made by low-income working families, small businesses, the artistic community, nonprofits, and all who are indigenous to the community and are being affected by displacement. Genocide is a crime -- morally and legally. And what our families -- our low-income, poor working families are experiencing today, and have been experiencing for years, is a form of genocide -- it is economic genocide. It is the responsibility of the San Planning Commission and the Planning Department to ensure that the livelihood of the environment -- the cultural aspect of our community -- is preserved. We make it clear to the Planning Department and the City Administration that it is our intent to welcome the Dot.Com industry into our community, but only if they adhere to an inclusive planning process that includes us. We are the ones that are most affected by this industry, and it is us who needs to be heard. And only we can provide them with the input and necessary understanding of long-term solutions for our community....Our community is in a crisis that is no longer a crisis that is limited to color. It is no longer about Latino families. Its about white families, its about African-American families, its about Asian families, its about the working class.'"

After the throng of people had been thoroughly whipped into a frenzy by the speakers outside of City Hall, a group went into the proceedings inside being held by the Planning Commission. The nine commissioners were on the edge of their seats with their hands on their mouths as my editor, Lisa Gray-Garcia, apprised them of the tension brewing in communities in the different communities.

"You are systematically approving projects that are pushing people out of this city. You [commissioners] are parties to this Dot.Com gentrification. You stated at the outset that you do not want to hear any outbursts, or we will be escorted out of this room. Well, as a community, if we are not heard soon, then you will put us in a position where we have no other choice but to have what you call 'outbursts.' The outbursts will get larger as people become more desperate."

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