City eyes coalition to clean up Civic Center

A massive cleanup of the Civic Center neighborhood — including power cleaning the streets, tackling crime and curbing homelessness — could soon get under way with funding from surrounding businesses.

The first step toward creating a community benefit district — in which businesses pay into a fund that is then spent on improvements — was taken when Mayor Gavin Newsom introduced legislation asking The City to weigh in on its properties.

In order to create a benefit district, 30 percent of the businesses in the area need to give approval. San Francisco, however, owns roughly one-third of the properties in the Civic Center. The Board of Supervisors would need to vote on whether it would want city and county properties to be assessed as part of the benefit district.

The assessments along with grants would generate more than $700,000 annually for the district. The money would go toward extra street cleaning, social and arts programs as well as security for the neighborhood, which is a mix of arts centers, government buildings and small business.

“When we moved from the Sunset district to the Civic Center it was a huge, huge culture shock because being here was more urban,” said Alexander Brose, associate vice president for advancement at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. “The CBD, we hope, will really put a lot of parents and students and staff and faculty at ease about the neighborhood.”

The Community Benefit District would also have uniformed volunteers assisting tourists who come through the Civic Center, officials said.

Overall, it would make the neighborhood a more organized, inviting place, said Lisa Pagan, project manager for the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

“Property owners of residential buildings that want their residents to feel safe when they are walking their dog at night and performing arts venues want their patrons to come on the weekend and feel safe and feel that that it’s a vibrant district,” Pagan said.

esherbert@sfexaminer.com

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