The Department of Public Works and Placelab met with a few residents in 2017 to discuss formation of a GBD (intentionally avoiding several established neighborhood associations with which the GBD would compete). A survey was started first on paper then on ipads, conducted by proponents one-on-one with whomever was in the park. This is known as a “push poll”—a marketing technique masquerading as a survey with intent to produce a given outcome. Not surprisingly, the initial results were favorable because “help for the parks” sounds good, no one wants to appear cheap, and, there was no one to voice the arguments against. But then the tide turned.
In May 2018 the first public GBD formation meeting was held—announced with oversize color postcards, hosted with wine and cheese, large color posters, all at taxpayer expense. Some residents, notably some members of HANC (Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Coalition) had already seen through it and distributed anti-GBD flyers (included in Library). Despite efforts to limit vocal opposition, several people did speak out at the meeting. For the organizers, the meeting backfired. A handful of neighbors, now outraged that the City was spending thousands of taxpayer dollars to convince us that we need another tax, came together to coordinate opposition. We distributed flyers door-to-door (included in Library) informing neighbors of the proposed tax and urging them to vote NO on the survey. They did. The GBD steering committee capitulated, halted the survey early, and acknowledged in September 2018 that “the No votes exceeded Yes votes by 100+,” then in November: “The GBD Steering Committee has decided not to proceed with the GBD concept due to the survey response.”
"It's not over untill..."
On January 8, 2019, proponents of the GBV GBD hosted a final public meeting at the Randall Museum at which they presented a biased and misleading summary of their survey. Although reaffirming the withdrawal of the GBD, the proponents nevertheless claimed that the process galvanized the community justifying new efforts on their part. They now propose to initiate independent fundraising meetings. Our position is that this is inappropriate. Fundraising has been effectively conducted by the Buena Vista Neighborhood Association, BVNA, for many years. We have asked the proponents of the GBV GBD to take down their website since the effort is finished. They have ignored this request. Our Google Group “Concerned GBV Citizens” remains intact, monitoring the situation and ready to inform neighbors about any new efforts. To join this group, write to GBV@noGBDtax.org Opponents to the GBV GBD have asked the steering committee, as well as City contractors SF Parks Alliance and Place Lab which manage the GBD process, to share the raw data from their survey, provide attendance sheets from all their public meetings and verbatim minutes of their meetings. These requests have been refused. Citizens have a right to see this publicly-funded information and we will seek to obtain it through a Public Records Act request. Stay tuned. Since the effort to form a GBV GBD was funded with our taxpayer dollars, we have asked proponents, as well as our District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, to give a full accounting of public moneys spent in this failed effort and we have asked that unexpended funds be returned to the City. These requests have gone unacknowledged.
What you can do
Contact District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman (with copies to the Mayor and all the other Supervisors). Point out that voting, imposing taxes and influencing governance are political activities which City departments are forbidden by law from engaging in. By funding and promoting GBDs, DPW and the Mayors Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) are improperly involved in political activities. There has been no public scrutiny of the GBD process since it began. Demand that Supervisor Mandelman call for full public hearings into this process.
Today’s Battle Fronts
Although we defeated the GBD in our neighborhood, thousands of dollars of City funds are still being spent to try to convince other neighborhoods to levy a new tax on themselves. (See Mission Dolores). Therefore, together with opposition leaders from other affected districts, we are taking the battle to the City level to challenge the GBD model and change or revoke the SF law. To join this effort, write to SF@noGBDtax.org. If your neighborhood is under attack, write to Team@noGBDtax.org