- Buchanan is one of four properties the city aims to buy by the end of 2021 to create 368 permanent supportive housing units, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The other three locations are in SoMa, the Mission and the Excelsior.
- KHP Capital Partners, a private equity firm that invests in boutique and independent hotels, has owned Buchanan since 2014. In June 2020, KHP entered into an agreement with the city to lease the hotel as an emergency facility for the homeless.
- With COVID-19 taking lives and crippling businesses, the local community initially welcomed the agreement. However, it did not take long before the new neighbors allegedly started causing problems.
- “Initially, I thought that’s a great idea. The problem was that in reality, when it happened, there was an immediate change in the physical environment,” Cathay Inamasu, who runs a preschool next to the hotel, told the Nichi Bei Weekly. “Our staff constantly have to deal with the people sitting or laying in our walkways … Sometimes they’ll move politely, others will be aggressive and confrontational.”
- Inamasu said there’s been “more garbage and trash, needles, feces, so we end up having to clean up all this stuff.” Ricky and Bobby Okamura, who own a confectionery across the street, reportedly complained about hearing loud music and people coming and going at two in the morning.
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- Tanaka said the city was deliberately silencing critics on the matter. They said they received a letter from the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH) on Aug. 20, which gave them less than a week to prepare for a meeting on Aug. 26 — the only time they would be given a chance to speak up.
- “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,” Tanaka wrote. “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 marginalizing us?”
- Tanaka stressed that the permanent housing will impact Japantown forever. The neighborhood, they said, was built by their ancestors who were returning “from their unjust incarceration” during World War II.
- The hotel reportedly generates more than $2.7 million for the local economy. Paul Osaki, executive director of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California — and a Japantown resident for 60 years — said they are concerned about the housing’s impact on local businesses.
- “When you start taking away those economic resources, it will choke the community,” Osaki told the SF Chronicle. He also said supervisors “can’t sacrifice and break their promise to one community to serve another.”