Interview

Sida Li on the Plan to Modernize, Beautify the Broad-Randolph Corridor

Photograph Courtesy of San Francisco Beautiful

Photograph Courtesy of San Francisco Beautiful

The non-profit San Francisco Beautiful and the city have teamed up to engage the community to improve the Broad-Randolph corridor. Over the past few months, several community meetings have been held to reach out to neighbors to find out what their hopes and desires are for the corridor.

Project leader Sida Li, a community designer with San Francisco Beautiful, is passionate about improving public space to enhance quality of life and promote social justice. She is also working on a similar project for Fillmore Street. This interview has been minimally edited for clarity.

How did San Francisco Beautiful get involved?

For more than 60 years San Francisco Beautiful has been working with neighborhood organizations in creating, enhancing and protecting the unique beauty and livability of San Francisco. Our current neighborhood projects include a neighborhood listening tour, UN Plaza activation and survey, Fillmore Street beautification and Broad/Randolph beautification.

Where did the idea for this project develop?

Our goal was to use our design and community outreach experience to help the community get the project that they want. So we started by asking the neighbors how they want to beautify the Broad/Randolph corridor. Over the course of a few months, we were able to talk to hundreds of residents and gathered 231 beautification ideas in total. Of those ideas, we have identified four beautification priorities: greening, art, seating and activities.

What are the mid-term and overarching goals?

We will implement a series of beautification projects by early next year while seeking other funding opportunities. The long-term goal would be to improve the Broad/Randolph streetscape, making it livelier and building its community to further the beautification work. Being Chinese myself, one of my personal goals is to encourage the Chinese population— which makes up around 50 percent of the neighborhood but are relatively quiet—to engage in the process.

What’s the timeline?

We are currently in the design phase. The final design presentation was on Oct. 16 at Minnie & Lovie Ward Recreation Center. We will finish the implementation of a series of projects by early next year. We hope to hear more ideas, feedback and comments on the design.

Who are the participants and participating organizations?

The Office of Economic and Workforce Development is the city agency that provided initial funding and helped us facilitate the project. Andrea Baker Consulting also helps facilitate communities meetings.

The Ocean View Branch Library and Minnie & Lovie Ward Recreation Center have offered a lot of support by providing space and volunteers. We have established a neighborhood group called Broad/Randolph Beautification Committee. They are the neighborhood leaders who help us to get the word out and will carry along the beautification effort in the future. We are hoping to get more people to join the committee.

How is it funded?

We have a grant of $34,000 from the city, but even with our community support and volunteers we can’t fully reach our goals. We need more volunteers and donations to directly increase our impact.

What has been learned from the outreach so far?

We are grateful that the community has been very enthusiastic and supportive. They really want to see a change and are being part of the change by being proactive. We tried our best to involve everyone in our outreach so we can make the best decisions that will benefit the most people. Local events are great opportunities for us to go out and talk with neighbors. We are grateful to work with local organizations.

Broad Street is a very unique neighborhood. It is very multi-cultural. As I mentioned, over 50 percent is Asian and a large portion of the residents don’t read or talk in English. So having Cantonese translators at events or meetings is highly necessary. By reaching shared goals of the community, we are really hoping to bring people of different backgrounds together through this project.

Do you have a website?

Yes, please read more here. My e-mail address is sida@sfbeautiful.org.

When is the next meeting?

We have monthly meetings on every third Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at Minnie & Lovie Ward Recreation Center. So the next one is Nov. 20, 2014. Before that however, we will hold a vote for the final design option that will kick off at the OMI Community Health Resource Fair on Saturday, Nov. 8. from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Catholic Charities Adult Day Services Facility, which is located at 50 Broad St.

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