Category Archives: History

History of Quesada Ave. speed humps

By Jeffrey Betcher

A neighbor asked me about how a recently installed speed hump on our Bayview block came to be. Like most resident-led civic improvements, it didn’t happen quickly.  And it didn’t happen because one person, on either the community side or the City side of the equation, tried to make it happen.

Truth is, NASCAR-like traffic on this single residential block has been an issue for residents even before the first record we have of asking the City for speed bumps (or speed humps, as we evolved). I’m going to age another year just by typing this, but that first request was in 2003!

>We caught a break when community-sensitive Nick Carr at SFMTA contacted me about a traffic calming planning process for an area of Bayview that included the Quesada Gardens’ block.  I inserted our request into that traffic calming plan, noting the history of our community’s request, a history that involved lots of others beside myself.

That speed hump slowed traffic for about a third of the block, but checkered flags were still waving on the rest of the block.  At the same time, work to improve life on the block had succeeded enough that there were many more pedestrians walking the sidewalks and crossing the street to enjoy the gardens and art projects. The risk of an accident was still high.

I kept in touch with Nick about it all, and he responded again!  Hydra, Wei Ming, Shane and others did a lot of footwork to get neighbors to vote for the second hump. Hydra contacted Nick to help keep things moving.

Here’s a bit of speed hump history …

2003: The first request for speed bumps is noted in Quesada Gardens’ first set of meeting notes.

2004: Sharon advocates for traffic calming through DPT. We organized a community meeting, and presented a petition to City reps asking for action.

2006: A Quesada Gardens meeting is devoted to the issue of traffic calming after Denise King‘s new car was totaled in a head on collision at the upper end of Quesada, but resulted in our being turned down for speed humps in favor of speed limit signs and the elimination a parking spot that made turns at the top of the hill dangerous.

Work to slow traffic continues on Quesada. More


Reader shares community food history

Many thanks to Susan Demattei Wendt who took time to share important history about our neighborhood and its agricultural heritage after seeing a story on Footprints about a garden on land that was once a family farm and an important part of San Francisco’s food shed.  The pictured tractor is a Footprints photo of one of the last remnants of the Demattei family farm.

“My grandfather was James Demattei who with his two brothers, Anthony and Louis started this farm. My grandfather “Nonno” would walk over to the ranch everyday and tend to produce. He would plant the vegetables by hand, a back straining job. But he never complained, this was his livelihood. This “truck” farm as they used to call it did support three families…..Known as the Demattei Bros. My grandmother would handle the books, taking orders etc. Their family home was on the corner of Neptune and Williams. We, as kids enjoyed going over to the ranch and visiting Nonno. He also had a barn across the street from ranch. He used his plow horse, “Dolly” to plow the fields. These were wonderful times for all is grandchildren. My father, Fred Demattei (James’s eldest son) used to get up early in the morning and take the produce to the produce market on Alemany Blvd. He did this in the summers while on school vacation. Louis Demattei had this job also. My grandfather was an Italian immigrant who along with his brothers started this business which prospered for many years. Hardwork and ambition does pay off. I miss those days, but have a lifetime of memories.”

Thank you, again, Susan!

Jon-028-1024x768More about the Demattei farm


Espanola Jackson passes, community loses champion

Espanola-Jackson2-adjustedJeffrey Betcher

My former neighbor Marie Harrison shared news of the passing of Espanola Jackson on Facebook, and I fell into a funk.  What a huge loss. But at the same time, What a life to celebrate and a spirit to remember!

You probably heard of Dr. Jackson one way or another before now, and may well have met her personally.  She was everywhere the Bayview Hunters Point community gathered, and everywhere our most vulnerable residents needed a voice.  And she was there, speaking out, decade after decade.

Dr. Espanola Jackson was a beloved elder and eternal youth.  She radiated strength and conviction with every step, and knew just how much sugar to sprinkle along the way. Condolences to Ms. Espanola’s huge family and circle of friends. And God bless Espanola Jackson!

Also see:

Dr. Jackson at a gathering of elders in Bayview

More fighters who helped make Bayview Hunters Point great

Woodrow Young passes, Quesada Gardens’ loses a co-founder

Woodrow Buck Young from Survival by Penny Young compressed resized
Woodrow Young and youngest sister Penny Young on the family farm in Alabama. Photo: “Survival: The Will and the Way” by Penny Young

Woodrow Young, a longtime Bayview resident, passed away last month at Tuskegee Hospital, three miles outside his family home in Union Springs, Alabama

Woodrow, who was know to family and friends as “Woody” or “Buck,” was 78 at the time of his passing.  According to his sister, Annette Young Smith, he had spent the final years of his life peacefully visiting with family, gardening and sitting on the porch watching traffic pass on “Highway Two-Nine” which ran by the family home.

Woody was a co-founder of Quesada Gardens Initiative, and was Quesada Avenue’s most outgoing neighbor for years.  He was the go-to guy for any questions about auto mechanics and home construction, and had every tool and piece of hardware imaginable (though he couldn’t always find them).

Woody was an avid fisherman who often pointed his camper to Clearlake, California where he would relax with friends and a dog or two.  He enjoyed cooking, and was generous with whatever he prepared.

Woodrow Liz Annette
Woody joking with Liz Lerma and sister Annette in 2002 when Quesada Gardens was just getting started. Photo: Jeffrey Betcher

His sister Annette, who with Karl Paige started what became an award-winning community building initiative by planting flowers and other plants around the 1700 block of Quesada Avenue, says her first inspiration to plant on the median strip was to fill in a hole Woody had left there after digging for fishing worms.

Jeffrey and Woody were friends and next door neighbors on Quesada Avenue. Photo: John McNamara
Jeffrey and Woody were friends and next door neighbors on Quesada Avenue. Photo: John McNamara

Before living at 1751 Quesada, Woody had lived one house up.  He sold that house and combined resources with his neighbor Martha to improve the house Martha owned at 1751 Quesada where they both lived until Martha’s passing in 2012.

Part of a sprawling family with roots both in Alabama and Bayview, Woody was the second of eleven children born  to Pleze and Laurae Young.  He supported himself and his own family with hard work that ranged from peanut and cotton farming to driving truck and working for a local door-hanging company.

Folks still stop by Quesada Gardens from time to time asking after Woody.  They usually have a story or two of some kindness or other, and talk about Woody as a big reason Bayview has always been such a beautiful place.

– Jeffrey Betcher

Apparel industry rediscovers Bayview as business, community reconnect

Jeffrey Betcher
Bayview entrepreneur works to connect industry and community.  Photo: Shaharil Abdul Makol
Bayview entrepreneur works to connect industry and community. Photo: Shaharil Abdul Makol

In a place some still call the “Industrial Triangle,” between Bayshore Boulevard and Industrial Avenue in San Francisco’s economically-challenged Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood, a street named “Apparel Way” marks a largely forgotten facet of neighborhood history.

The street would be just another haunting of the nation’s garment industry except for a couple of apparel businesses that remain lively where once there were enough to earn street signs. Apparel Way may also be a marker on the economic road ahead in what is a rapidly changing urban neighborhood.

San Francisco’s sewn products design and manufacturing industry was bursting at the seams twenty years ago, and included local luminaries such as Gap, Levi’s, Esprit and Jessica McClintock.

Today, both the number of industry workers employed in the City and the quantity of products being stitched here are pale reflections of the heyday. Smaller businesses were flattened by regulation, overseas competition and a bad economy, while larger ones moved production off-shore to survive.

That began to change when the value of the dollar declined (it’s bouncing back now) and local manufacturing became more economical. The resurgent “Maker” mentality and the trend toward revaluing of all things “local” spurred the change along.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that a neighborhood known for industry and scrappy entrepreneurs would host a stirring of apparel businesses. Blue Canoe (on Oakdale), West Coast Garments (on Elmira), Kamei Garment Company (on Newcomb), and Benchmark 44 (on Oakdale) have all relocated here recently. Advanced Technical Sewing (on Revere) is still active at Bayview Industrial Park, and professional contractors like Cynthia Carley at ApparelWiz have opened offices here.

On Apparel Way, in Bayview Hunters Point’s historic garment industry hub, one tenacious entrepreneur never left. Lynette Cason’s Cason Culinary Design still flourishes there.  Lynette hosted a PeopleWearSF trade mixer in January of 2012 that showed off new design and production space any business would envy.

SF apparel industry’s fertile ground

SF’s Southeast Sector may be a fertile crescent for this industry resurgence, and Bayview is particularly fertile soil. Industrial space is relatively inexpensive here, under $1 a square foot in many cases. Supportive institutions like City College and San Francisco State University are nearby.  The neighborhood breaths an atmosphere of innovation as the area is remade by public and private investment.

Transit via MUNI lines (9, 22, 24, and T-Third light rail) make getting workers to and from job sites about as good as it gets in San Francisco. Working families can more easily make a life here than elsewhere in the City.

As other San Francisco neighborhoods seem to take on uniformity like quadrants of a sprawling university campus, Bayview remains unique. The independent spirit crucial to any creative industry remains especially healthy here.

The time may have arrived for sewn products designers and manufacturers to set up shop here, and for entrepreneurs already based in SF’s southeast corner to roll up their sleeves.

Industry trends wending through the neighborhood where I live and work have clarified my own start-up apparel business plan.  YamStreet seemed forever on the drawing board as I focused on non-profit community change work. Connecting my vision of a for-profit business in a global industry with place-based work in Bayview seemed like a recipe for “brand confusion.” Now it seems natural, even essential.

YS SF TM label Nikosey 2015 horizontalNote: My apparel business, YamStreet, launched on Kickstarter early in 2015 where it quickly exceeded its goal.


Shifting values

When, years ago, the family-owned sporting goods store in the small Ohio town where I grew up spent it’s marketing budget to get its name on the Little League jerseys local kids wore by buying the kids their uniforms.  Sadly, community-based marketing and local economies were headed out of fashion. Decades later, in a forgotten working class San Francisco neighborhood, mixing business with community may be coming back again.

As an organizer, I believe that good community building finds opportunity in the midst of challenge, and strengthens the underlying capacity of people living in “place.” As an entrepreneur, I believe that good business building seeks opportunity and treats people as if they were neighbors even when that’s not literally true.

The values that guide my work in the community seem transferable and mutually-reinforcing alongside socially-responsible business development. The neighborhood-based network of support informally emerging around me shares a thread of belief that business can strengthen the neighborhood while drawing strength from it.

Some neighborhood businesses are survivors, like those on Apparel Way, and connect industrial history to future potential. Some entrepreneurs are just discovering that Apparel Way and opportunity in Bayview exist.  All share an air of determination and optimism that has been circulating in Bayview and the City’s southeast corner from the beginning.

Quesada Gardens Initiative builds community in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood. PeopleWear SF is the SF Bay Area’s apparel industry trade association.  YamStreet is a Bayview business making Urban Pajama Pants and accessories.

Library Commission’s unanimous vote

Linda Patronage of Library
Linda at a Bayview Footprints event. Photo: Heidi Hardin

After a year of organizing that included Bayview residents, library-lovers, public library workers and leaders, and the many others who knew and loved Linda Brooks-Burton … it’s official. Watch for signage in and on the building at 3rd Street and Revere that reads “Bayview/Linda Brooks-Burton Branch Library.”

“In response to a community-led proposal to rename the Bayview Branch Library by adding the name of Linda Brooks-Burton, longtime librarian, role model and branch manager of the Bayview Branch,” a library press release announced, “the Library Commission voted unanimously in favor of the proposal at its Sept. 18 regular meeting.”

Among the comments that moved commissioners:

“We need to remember her because she represents the power of literacy and education in a time of violence, uncertainty and community resilience.”

“Linda was a role model for us all, and we must keep her memory alive so she can continue to inspire the community she loved.”

After the Commission vote, Lydia Vincent wrote:

For those of you who do it… Praise God with Me… Hallelujah! WE DID IT!

A huge Thank You to each of you who signed petitions, wrote letters, attended dances, came to meetings, donated money, said a prayer or sent good vibes!!!

Thanks again everyone for whatever you did to help us make the dream of naming our library after the woman who deserves it most.

Beloved neighbor Tom Kennedy passes

Tom Kennedy in May of 2007 on a tour of Quesada Gardens that he organized.  Photo: Footprints
Tom Kennedy in May of 2007 on a tour of Quesada Gardens that he organized. Photo: Footprints

Tom Kennedy passed away in his sleep at his Bayview home Wednesday night, September 24, 2014 at age 69. His death was as unexpected as it was peaceful.

Tom was a Bayview Hunters Point resident who for many Bayview change-makers represented how quiet leadership, art and historic preservation, and small business can help transform a community.

Tom was a co-founder of the Bayview Footprints Network of Community Building Groups. He created the Bayview Footprints logo, with Malik Seneferu, and laid out the print editions of Bayview Footprints Local News, a project he suggested in 2008 that is now nearing its 140th edition.  Also in 2008, Tom co-founded the Bayview History Preservation Project along with Linda Brooks-Burton (who passed just over one year ago) and other historical preservationists who joined together to ensure that the African American migration to jobs at the Hunters Point Shipyard and other facets of neighborhood history would be remembered.product_thumbnail

Tom was involved with the Bayview Merchants’ Association, Bayview Renaissance, and Quesada Gardens Initiative. He was a talented graphic artist who created the visual brands and websites for local businesses like Southern Sweets by Yvonne. “163: The Story of San Francisco’s 16th Avenue Tiled Steps,” a book Tom crafted in 2008, remains a beautiful reminder of his skill and commitment to community.

Tom is especially missed by his longtime friend, Bayview neighbor and partner in the business ttdigital, Travis Jackson. Just the night before his passing, Tom had been cooking with Travis.  He had just purchased a new car, and was making plans for future travel and work-related projects.

49ers move to Santa Clara, ‘Stick moves to library

Candlestick historyLights Out at the Stick, a new exhibit at the SF Public Main Library, illuminates a cusp of change.  While Candlestick Park Stadium still stands in the southeast corner of Bayview, it is a relic with a short lifespan.  Slated to come down in a couple months, the ‘Stick sits on land that is already being developed.

Footprints has learned that portions of the library’s exhibit, which celebrates 50 years of activity at the stadium, will come to the Bayview Branch Library after its run at Civic Center. History is happening.

From a SFPL press release:

Candlestick Park Stadium, the City’s baseball and football stadium for over 50 years, will be torn down in late 2014 or early 2015. Lights Out at the ‘Stick is a newly opened exhibit located in the Grove Street lobby of the Main Library featuring a brief history and memorabilia. The exhibit, jointly presented by San Francisco Public Library and San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, will be on view until Oct. 9.

Opened on April 12, 1960 for the newly relocated San Francisco Giants, the stadium was designed by John S. Bolles. It was the first reinforced concrete stadium built for major league baseball. Affectionately dubbed The Stick by the fans who spent many cold days and nights there, the stadium was home to the Giants until they moved to the new Pacific Bell (now AT&T) Park and home to the San Francisco 49ers from 1971-2013. With the 49ers’ move to a new stadium in Santa Clara in 2014, the Stick is being retired and demolished.

Among the items on display are a San Francisco 49ers uniform and helmet, a Candlestick seat, reproduced tickets and program from the 1962 Giants v. Yankees World Series home game, a Giants uniform and more.

Candlestick Park holds many memories for locals, particularly on October 17, 1989, during Game 3 of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s, when the Loma Prieta earthquake struck the Bay Area. Despite widespread damage throughout the region, no one in the stadium was injured.

Candlestick was also home to other events. The Rolling Stones performed in 1961, Mass was led by Pope John Paul II in 1987, and The Beatles played their final concert at Candlestick on Aug. 29, 1966. Paul McCartney performed a final farewell concert at the stadium on August 14, 2014 before it disappeared forever.

For more information, call 557.4277.

Shipyard’s popular bus tours are back

HPNS Tour 8-2014


Click the image to register for this unique tour 

As a part of its continuing efforts to reach out to the community, the Navy invites you to participate in one of the bus tours of Hunters Point Naval Shipyard on August 23rd.

The Navy will lead two guided tours of its cleanup efforts on the former Shipyard and answer questions related to those activities. Prior to boarding the bus, participants will meet inside HPNS Building 101 where the Navy will provide information about the cleanup and sites on the tour.

See pictures and text from a previous tour, here on Bayview Footprints


Tour the Shipyard – June 28th

RSVP here before the tours fill up!

Shipyard Bus Tour

Last year’s shuttle tours of the Naval Shipyard at Hunters Point where so successful that the Navy is doing it again.  Two tours on Saturday, June 28th will fill up fast.  RSVP immediately!

See coverage of last year’s tour.  Hunters Point Naval Shipyard is the town-sized swath of prime waterfront real estate located below Islais Creek … and within sight of India Basin, Heron’s Head Park, and Hunters Point Hill … in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood.  It was once the economic driver for the southeast part of the City.  At its peak of activity, the Shipyard employed 30,000 people.

See a photo essay from last year’s Shipyard tour.

What should happen with Hunters Point Shipyard is hardly a new question.  A KPIX archival video that aired June 4th … 41 years ago … shows policymakers, including then-Mayor Joseph Allioto, discussing the possibility of keeping the Shipyard open for ship building, ship repair and other industrial uses that would create jobs.

Another 1973 interview with Mayor Aliota again focused in on the Shipyard and jobs.

Also in 1973, then-Assemblyman John L. Burton talked about retaining jobs in the event of the Shipyard closing.