Making Amends With San Francisco's Japanese American Community
You've seen the big Peace Pagoda when visiting or driving by Japantown. A complete redesign and renovation of the surrounding plaza is planned, thanks to San Francisco's 2020 voter-approved Health and Recovery Bond. But unexpected costs threaten to impact the project.
This week, I announced $6 million in state funding to make sure the work gets done as envisioned. As Assembly Budget Chair, I was determined to fight for this allocation in Sacramento because the state should be a partner in such efforts to make things right.
This isn't just about modernizing a public space. It's also about making amends to Japanese Americans who were kicked out of Japantown not once, but twice. During World War II, Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from their homes and sent to internment camps. While many came back after the war to rebuild their shattered lives, the City evicted residents and businesses during the mid-1960's and 1970's - this time in the name of redevelopment. Japantown's Peace Plaza was built during this period.
After decades of neglect, the Peace Plaza will finally see improvements, which will also help revitalize the area by attracting visitors to support small businesses and fostering cultural relations. Community members see this investment of local and state funds as restitution and a long overdue chance to heal.
Last year, I secured $5 million to update the adjacent Buchanan Mall near Torii Gate, which is also in dire need of renovations that will include the repair of the iconic Ruth Asawa fountains. When both projects are done, Japantown will finally have an open space that represents the character and culture of the community.
Assemblymember, 19th District