SAN FRANCISCO — An online petition has been launched on Change.org to stop the City of San Francisco from selling the Hotel Buchanan in Japantown.

Authored by Zee Tanaka, the petition reads as follows:

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We are being silenced by the city on a proposed plan that will have irreparable harm on the S.F. Japantown neighborhood, one of only three Japantowns left in the nation. We must speak up.

Japantown and our neighbors were blindsided by news from the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing announcing their plan to purchase the Hotel Buchanan in Japantown and transition it to 131 permanent units for the unhoused.

Many received our letters on Aug. 20 which gave us LESS THAN ONE WEEK before they scheduled a meeting for Aug. 26 to learn the details. THEN we were told this would be the ONE and ONLY meeting where Japantown and surrounding neighborhood residents, small businesses, churches and the public could ask questions and air our concerns.  

ONE week’s notice and ONE meeting are attempts to minimize our voices, ram this through and push us to the sidelines. Who is dictating to us that there shall only be one meeting? Who is dictating the future of Japantown and these areas of the Western Addition and Lower Pacific Heights neighborhoods? Who is marginalizing us?

Because this shall be permanent housing, this plan shall impact the destiny of Japantown and the area forever. Our ancestors rebuilt Japantown after returning from their unjust incarceration during WWII. They rebuilt this area at great human sacrifice. All of us who now live, work, have businesses and worship in this Japantown/Western Addition/Lower Pac Heights neighborhood want to have decision-making in any plan that impacts the area and our lives.

We want our place at the table.

This online petition was created to send a clear message to San Francisco Mayor London Breed, the Board of Supervisors and the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing to pull the Hotel Buchanan from the purchase plan. The Japantown/Western Addition/Lower PacHeights neighborhood wants the input and respect denied to us, so there can be a collective and inclusive process.

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As of Thursday evening, more than 2,600 people have signed. The goal is 5,000.

The Zoom meeting was held on Thursday evening as planned, and several leaders in the Japantown community expressed opposition to the plan. The hotel has already been used as temporary housing during the pandemic. Local business owners and representatives of Nihonmachi Little Friends, which is next door to the hotel, reported run-ins with unruly residents.

Many speakers pointed out that the hotel — located at Sutter and Buchanan and formerly known as Kyoto Inn, Miyako Inn and Hotel Tomo — is one of only two hotels in Japantown that cater to tourists, the other being Hotel Kabuki on Post and Laguna. Some compared the city’s actions to the redevelopment period of the 1960s and ’70s, during which several residents and businesses were evicted from the neighborhood through eminent domain.

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