RUSSIAN HILL NEIGHBORS ANNUAL REPORT 2021-2022
Although the pandemic limited our social and in-person indoor events, RHN had an active and successful year. Individual Committee reports follow, but here are some brief highlights from our fiscal year that ended April 30, 2022. Thank you for your membership, support and participation without which these would not have been possible.
The long awaited and celebrated opening of Francisco Park on the site of the historic reservoir took place on a gloriously clear and sunny April 27 (see photos at rhnsf.org). RHN was involved in the early plans for this amazing new addition to our neighborhood and the City as it went from dream to reality. We should all take pride in seeing RHN listed as one of the important donors with a cumulative gift of $25,000 for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Words cannot adequately express our thanks to the successive District Two Supervisors (Per-Alioto, Farrell and Stefani) and their staffs without whom the park would not have been possible. Additional thanks go to the many individuals whose determined efforts and generosity nurtured the vision and brought the project to completion.
RHN joined its peer organizations of District 3 in the recently concluded redistricting process that set the boundaries for supervisorial elections and representation for the next ten years. Activities included Zoom and written educational opportunities for Russian Hill residents to learn about and participate in the process, as well as the RHN’s Board written and spoken testimony to the Redistricting Task Force over many months.
Finally, recognizing the financial impact of the pandemic on key nonprofit organizations that serve our neighborhood, the RHN Board approved donations to the Aquatic Park Senior Center, League of Women Voters, National Night Out (SFPD), Next Village, North Beach Citizens, the SF Friends of the Library, SF Parks Alliance, Tel High Neighborhood Center and Yick Wo School. We sponsored a Zoom meeting with newly appointed City Attorney David Chiu and co-sponsored the North Beach Farmer’s Market and several candidate debates.
COMMUNICATIONS COMMITTEE – Alice Alioto, 2021-22 Chair; Susan Ford, 2022-23 Chair
The Communications Committee produced a monthly newsletter with information about RHN and community activities, as well as periodic eblasts with late breaking news and calls to action. The committee was particularly active in providing information about the Supervisorial Redistricting process. The newsletter goes to 1347 separate email addresses, of which 53% are rated “highly engaged” based on their opening and click rates. The committee also maintains the website at rhnsf.org. Efforts are being made to have a larger presence on social media sites as appropriate. The deadline for newsletter submissions, which must be camera ready, is the 18th of each month and should be submitted to email@example.com.
DZLU COMMITTEE – Bob Bluhm, Chair
During the pandemic we continued to meet monthly via Zoom to maintain our camaraderie and momentum, including a fun exercise to update our committee’s logo. We provided advocacy for projects impacting Russian Hill—most notably the burned-out Verdi building at 659 Union (at Columbus), meeting with the developer and providing a support letter. Committee members attended Pre-Application meetings on projects of interest, including several proposed cannabis outlets, to inform neighbors about their scope and to share feedback both pro and con. Through RHN’s website, we kept membership informed about the status of significant planning policies, such as proposals to modify the zoning of single-family parcels to increase density, the City’s “Housing Element” and a potential ballot measure for a residential vacancy tax. Lastly, we updated RHN’s Land Use and Development Principles, first written in 2017, offering a framework for reviewing projects.
FAMILIES COMMITTEE – Moe Jamil & Annie Yang, Co-Chairs
The Family Committee continues to brainstorm ideas for improving the quality of life for family life in Russian Hill. We played a key role in advocating for Russian Hill to be unified in District 3 to align with the attendance area boundaries of Yick Woo Elementary School. We are planning some fun events over the next year including for Halloween and the Winter Holidays. We also welcome the opening of Francisco Park.
HISTORY COMMITTEE – Al Greening, Chair
Long-time member Al Greening maintains an archive of RHN materials and continues to document our activities and scenes of Russian Hill photographically that are regularly posted to the RHN website. Have a question about Russian Hill history? Al can likely answer it. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LOCAL BUSINESS COMMITTEE – Lauren Bohlin, 2021-22 Chair; Teddy Kramer, 2022-23 Chair
Over the past year, the Local Business Committee completed a membership push to get our local business membership back to pre-pandemic levels. We are fortunate enough that we now have over 30 local business members, a 60% increase from where we were during the pandemic. We have also focused on collaborating with other RHN committees including membership, parks, and Design Zoning and Land Use. Finally, we were focused on highlighting our local business members via word of mouth marketing and introductions to other local neighborhood groups to increase their exposure to Russian Hill and other neighboring communities. A list of RHN’s local business members can be found on the RHN website. We encourage your patronage of these local businesses that support our work.
MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE – 2022-23 Chair Position currently open
We have 500 members, which is slightly down from the previous year. This is not surprising as people moved out of the city during COVID. Our under-65 and merchant memberships increased over the previous fiscal year. Unfortunately we lost some of our over-65 members due to deaths as well as having moved permanently out of SF. Last year we started having quarterly New Member zoom calls with the membership committee to get to know the new members and to introduce them to other new members. We plan to continue these and move them to in-person get-to-know-you gatherings. We also held public service zoom events that were open to members and non-members. Going forward we will be focusing on member events.
The membership committee is active again and is looking for additional people to help as well as a membership chair. We are working with social on in person member-only events. Our annual picnic will be August 13 and we are re-starting cheers events starting in July.
NEIGHBORHOOD ENHANCEMENT COMMITTEE – Phoebe Douglass, 2021-22 Chair; Susan Gage and Barbara Bella, 2022-23 Co-Chairs
- Scheduled street/sidewalk cleanup mornings. Between 12 and 25 people participated in one or more of these attempts to make our neighborhood look better and more attractive. Susan Gage and Barbara Bella were enthusiastic participants and will be taking over the organization of these fun and productive volunteer events.
- Responded to queries and complaints of trash and repair problems for which the City should be held accountable. Stressed the use of the 311 app for individuals solving many of these problems themselves.
- Added 5 streets to Russian Hill’s mechanical street sweeping schedule. Many thanks were given to volunteers who helped with the petition process for accomplishing this.
- Worked with the Department of Public Works on its “Neighborhood Beautification Day” program. The next morning we are hoping for RHN volunteers to participate will be July 9. Please sign up!
PARKS COMMITTEE – Peter Kindel, 2021-22 Chair; Susan Karasoff, 2022-23 Chair
The Parks Committee organized a monthly open space enhancement and clean-up day throughout the year attended by an enthusiastic group of members and non-members who trimmed, weeded and enjoyed making a difference in our neighborhood. The locations included Ina Coolbrith Park, the Green Street Steps, Sterling Park, Greenwich Steps and Vallejo Stairway Garden. Tools and gloves are provided.
SAFETY COMMITTEE – Jennifer Parkes, 2021-2023 Chair
Safety continues to be an important issue among RHN members. We were pleased to welcome Julian Ng as the new Captain at Central Station, and Captain Derrick Jackson to Northern Station. RHN President Carol Ann Rogers sits on Captain Ng’s CPAB (Community Police Advisory Board) and Chair Parkes attends Captain Ng and Captain Jackson’s monthly community meetings.
SOCIAL COMMITTEE – Pamela Meyers, Chair
The pandemic continued to challenge RHN and its Social Committee but two very successful events were organized. A summer reception was hosted by one of our newest local business members, Studio Patria, at the corner of Green and Hyde. We had to forego once again our popular holiday party, but offered an RHN night at the Club Fugazi’s popular “Dear San Francisco.”
TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE – Steve Taber, Chair
Two transportation projects supported by RHN have made substantial progress during the past year.
- The Van Ness Avenue bus rapid transit has opened for service. This project involved major capital infrastructure and reconfiguration of Van Ness Avenue to allow buses to travel on an exclusive right of way, stopping at stations in the middle of Van Ness Avenue. The effect has been to greatly improve travel time and reliability by eliminating automobile congestion. A further enhancement, allowing drivers to override traffic signals, is expected to be implemented soon and should reduce travel times even more.
- Phase I of the Central Subway is nearly complete and is expected to open in the next few months, with the closest station to Russian Hill being at Stockton and Washington streets. Meanwhile, planning for an extension of the subway to North Beach (with a station at Washington Square) and Fisherman’s Wharf has been designated as a future project in the city’s “Connect SF” plan and is currently being subject to an “alternatives analysis,” which is the first step in the planning and development of the extension.
Treasurer’s Report – RHN Financials with Last and Current Fiscal Year Comparison
|May ’21 – Apr 22||May ’20 – Apr 21|
|Donations to RHN||5,634||9,889|