SAN FRANCISCO — Public hearings for the endorsement of the Japantown Cultural Heritage and Economic Sustainability Strategy (JCHESS) by the City and County of San Francisco have been set.

The pubic is invited to attend these hearings and give comments.

• Historic Preservation Commission on Wednesday, Sept. 18, beginning at 11:30 a.m. in City Hall Room 400. JCHESS is third on the regular calendar (Item #9b).

• Planning Commission on Thursday, Sept. 19, beginning at 12 p.m. in City Hall Room 400. JCHESS is first on the regular calendar (Item #7).

• Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Sept. 24, beginning at 2 p.m. at City Hall in the Supervisors’ Chambers. JCHESS will be introduced at this meeting and a vote on the resolutions will be held at a future meeting.

Written comments may be sent by email to Steve Wertheim of the Planning Department at

The latest drafts of the resolutions and the JCHESS document are available online by clicking here.

Color copies of the draft JCHESS are available at the Planning Department, 1650 Mission St., Suite 400, for $20 to cover the cost of printing.

JCHESS is a joint effort of the Japantown Organizing Committee — a collaborative group of community citizens and local business and property owners who came together to advise the Planning Department on the next revision of the Better Neighborhood Plan (BNP) — and the Planning Department, which engages citizens in an ongoing dialogue about San Francisco’s future and plays a central role in guiding the long-term development of the built and natural environment.

Members of the committee and the department explained the process:

“We are asking each of these bodies to pass a resolution in support of the JCHESS. These resolutions would state that the policy body endorses the JCHESS’ vision and strategy for Japantown and would adopt the JCHESS’ recommendations as city policy.

“As city policy, JCHESS describes the direction that the city should take when there is a discretionary action that affects Japantown. Examples of discretionary actions are approvals of a new real estate development, commercial uses, public improvements, etc.

“As you can imagine, we have a lot of city policies, including an entire General Plan and all the neighborhood plans, which is how JCHESS will be treated. That is, all city decisions affecting Japantown would be required to look to JCHESS as the policy guide. 

“As a city policy, the JCHESS would not itself be law or code. Enactment of any relevant law or code would occur as part of a subsequent action (e.g., the creation of a Japantown Neighborhood Commercial District). And, realistically, there could be exceptions made to the policies, which therefore behooves the community to stay active and involved in the implementation of JCHESS. That being said, any change to the JCHESS itself would require action by each of the commissions and the Board of Supervisors.

“We are at a historic point, where after 13 years of work (including four in this latest iteration), the neighborhood is about to have a strategy developed by the community become official city policy. Implementation of city policy then becomes the responsibility both of the relevant agencies and – in this case – the community.

“Fortunately, much of the implementation of the JCHESS is baked right into the work programs of agencies like the Planning Department and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, and is occurring seamlessly.

“Other aspects of implementation are strictly the bailiwick of the community – which makes it the city’s job to hold the community accountable. Other aspects require some capital funding (e.g., redesigning Peace Plaza and repairs to Buchanan Mall), which we’re already actively searching for money for.

“In sum, we have come a really long way, and we have excellent momentum to get the JCHESS to a place where it’s official city policy and implemented.”

“Thank you for your many comments and suggested changes and keep those emails and letters of support coming. We look forward to your attendance at the public hearings.”

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