Lower Fillmore could become city community benefit district

Lower Fillmore’s identity is in the running for a makeover.

The Board of Supervisors will conduct a public hearing Tuesday on whether to establish a community benefit district for lower Fillmore Street —an area that gained notoriety in the 1940s and 1950s as a center for jazz music.

Establishing a community benefit district for this area, now known as the Fillmore Jazz district, would enact an annual tax for five years on property owners within the proscribed area, which would then be spent on such things as maintenance, security and promotion.

The Fillmore Jazz district includes the area around Fillmore Street between Steiner and Webster streets and between Golden Gate Avenue and Geary Street.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, whose district includes the lower Fillmore, wants to see the district formed, saying it is an effective way to revitalize the area.

“My absolute objective is to make [the Fillmore Jazz district] the cultural destination it used to be. We are going to use every tool in the box to make that happen,” he said.

In its first year, the district is expected to generate $327,488, which a committee, made up of the area’s business owners and residents, would spend according to a management plan.

Proponents of the plan say it creates a strong identity for the neighborhood and helps attract consumers.

“The image of the lower Fillmore is not as flowery as the upper Fillmore area,” said Agonafer Shiferaw, owner of Rasselas, a jazz club and restaurant in the district.

Affected property owners have until Tuesday to vote for or against the plan. If a majority favors it, the Board of Supervisors will then determine that same day whether to approve it.

The tax varies between $25 and $100,000 a year depending on a number of factors, including building and lot size. Shiferaw said he would be paying $1,400 a year.

There are currently six community benefit districts in San Francisco, including Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf.

The Fillmore Jazz district is seemingly on the rebound. The owners of the renowned Oakland-based jazz club Yoshi’s are constructing a new location at Eddy and Fillmore streets, along with 32 units of housing.

The club is expected to open in August 2007. There is also proposed development of 80 housing units on a lot at Turk and Fillmore streets.

Japantown Street Fair

The band Pulse, left, entertains a crowd at the 33rd Annual Nihonmachi Street Fair in Japantown on Sunday. Pierre the dog, below left, meets a lion dance puppet controlled by Tino Wong of San Francisco. The fair celebrates the bond between Asian Americans and their cultures. — All: Zachary Kaufman/Special to The Examiner

jsabatini@examiner.com

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