Community Benefit Districts (CBD) are an important resource throughout San Francisco. Numerous commercial areas and mixed-use neighborhoods in the city have elected to form CBD’s, which places a special assessment on property owners to fund improvements within a designated area. The CBD’s help to improve the quality of life within a targeted neighborhood by implementing a variety of services, which typically include cleanliness, safety and advocacy as well as district identity, marketing and special events.
Central Market is home to three incredibly active CBD’s each lead by an equally dedicated executive director. Daniel Hurtado leads the Central Market CBD (CMCBD); the Civic Center CBD (CCCBD) is run by Donald Savoie, and at the helm of the North of Market Tenderloin CBD (NOM-TLCBD), is Dina Hilliard.
Each district works towards creating cleaner, safer and more vibrant communities while advocating for the needs of each neighborhood’s businesses, residents and visitors. Based on the needs and unique characteristics of each neighborhood, the CBD’s have implemented innovative programs and services that help to improve and contribute to the revitalization of the community.
The Central Market CBD’s have successfully implemented highly visible clean and safe programs that are tailored to the needs of each neighborhood. Additionally, they serve as advocates for the business community, collaborate with social service agencies to mitigate challenges around homelessness and crime and they are actively involved in the revitalization of Central Market.
This is the first of a three-part article featuring the benefit districts within Central Market. The first focuses on the North of Market Tenderloin Community Benefit District.
North of Market Tenderloin Community Benefit District
The North of Market-Tenderloin Community Benefit District was established in 2005 and has a different history and perspective than most CBD’s. It seeks above all to create a safer more vibrant and more beautiful Tenderloin by keeping its 29 blocks clean while developing programs that promote the identity of the neighborhood and provide employment opportunities to the lowest income individuals.
In the North of Market and Tenderloin neighborhoods, the primary focus of the CBD is on cleanliness. The NOM-TLCBD provides a comprehensive cleaning program through a partnership with San Francisco Clean City.
Dina Hilliard, Executive Director of the North of Market Tenderloin CBD explains that 76% of the district’s budget goes towards beautification and cleaning programs. The cleaning programs are the flagship efforts of the district’s efforts to beautify the historic Tenderloin neighborhood.
Throughout the neighborhood’s 29 blocks sidewalks and gutters are swept twice a day, Monday through Friday. Properties throughout the area are cleaned twice a month, sidewalks are steam cleaned on a monthly basis and targeted “hot spots” receive regular steam cleaning. Additionally, graffiti, needle and waste removal programs occur on a regular basis.
Collectively these efforts have resulted in over 17,000 bags of litter being swept off the sidewalks and out of gutters on an annual basis and 140 Tenderloin residents found temporary employment with SF Clean City. The neighborhood as a whole continues to become a more attractive place to live.
“Since implementing the program in 2006,” Hilliard says, “one of the most noticeable improvements is that the sidewalks are cleaner.” She further explains, “When looking from one side of the street to the other, you can see the difference.”
Benefits of Collaboration
The beautification efforts were the first collaborative effort of the NOM-TLCBD, which brought together many community leaders. “It is the most significant initiative that the CBD has done,” says Hilliard.
Prior to the formation of the District there was a lot of strife between organizations and expectations about how services should be funded. Much of the opposition related to fear around gentrification, homelessness and expectations that the city should pay for services related to cleanliness.
As the District was forming, Hilliard explains that there was a need to do a great deal of outreach throughout the community. “We conducted a lot of outreach, both printed and personal, to help educate property owners about the services the district would provide.”
These efforts helped to defray the opposition and build support for the formation of the benefit district. Those who once opposed the district are now supportive of its efforts.
“There was a time when some of the groups opposing the CBD would never sit at the table together,” says Hilliard, “now some sit on the Board of Directors and are partners in all that’s being done.”
The Tenderloin has a rich culture of street art and murals paintings that depict characteristics of the neighborhood. To help establish a stronger identity and create a sense of place, the CBD has commissioned local artists and organizations to paint murals in the neighborhood. They help artists locate areas to paint and compensate them for their time and talent. The murals portray a purposeful message and represent the voice of the neighborhood.
The installation of the murals has helped to deter crime. There is a noticeable reduction in the amount of loitering, public intoxication and other nuisance activities in and around the location of the murals.
“This has been the greatest success of the program,” says Hilliard.
’Windows Into The Future’, located at Golden Gate and Jones, was created by Mona Caron. It tells the story of the Tenderloin’s past, present and utopic future.
‘FearHead’, by artists from 1AM Gallery, is located on Golden Gate between Jones and Taylor. It depicts a three-headed monster, which feeds on the fearful emotions of the neighborhood.
The third mural commissioned by the CBD, ‘Humming With Life’, by Johanna Poethig, features a whimsical musical garden buzzing with hummingbirds. It can be found on the wall of an office building at 101 Hyde.
“The installation of the murals has been a very powerful experience for the neighborhood,” says Hilliard, “everyone has a response – whether or not they like them, they have been a tool for creating conversation and bringing people together.”
One of the projects the CBD is focusing on for the remainder of the year is to increase access to public restrooms. The project is very much in its early planning stages. They have recently received a grant to build a public restroom and are partnering with numerous community agencies to determine how such a program would be successful. Additionally, neighborhood groups have partnered to increase access to public restrooms. This effort has resulted in a twenty percent reduction in instances of public waste. The CBD and its partners feel hopeful that the program will be successful.
Additionally, Hilliard would like to change perceptions about the neighborhood. Many people don’t realize that the Tenderloin is a neighborhood of families with approximately 3,500 to 5,000 children living in the community. Most people, when thinking about the neighborhood, do not realize this.
Many of the CBD’s goals around neighborhood identity strive to change the perception of the neighborhood and support efforts to make it a safer place for families to live. The CBD partners with community groups to provide programs, such as Safe Passages, to ensure the safety of children walking through the neighborhood and has installed banners with thought provoking images that encourage people to re-think the community.
A 12-year old girl living in the Tenderloin designed one of the banner images installed in the neighborhood. It portrays an image of a young child with a backpack. This image helps to promote the fact that there are children and families living in the area.
Dina Hilliard, Executive Director of the North of Market Tenderloin CBD, has lived in the neighborhood for 13 years. Part of her passion for the job is that she gets to celebrate and promote her own neighborhood. She enjoys being a cheerleader for the community.
The boundaries of the North of Market Tenderloin CBD are generally between Market and O’Farrell, and Mason and Larkin Streets. More information is available at www.nom-tlcbd.org.