Yee Announces Chinatown Revitalization Plan

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in Culture, News, Politics

Published on August 13, 2011 with 3 Comments

Flanked by merchants and community leaders, Senator and mayoral candidate Leland Yee unveiled a 28-point plan Friday to revitalize Chinatown in San Francisco. Photos by Luke Thomas.

By Luke Thomas

August 13, 2011

Senator and mayoral candidate Leland Yee announced Friday a 28-point plan to revitalize and promote the popular Chinatown enclave of San Francisco.

“This plan is open for discussion,” Yee stated during a campaign event held at the Imperial Palace Restaurant, “but I at least wanted to begin the discussion about how is it that we can improve Chinatown in terms of its qualify of life.”

The subtext of Yee’s move is viewed as an unsaid challenge to Chinatown powerbroker Rose Pak’s grip on the Chinese-American community in an attempt to weaken her base of support and to garner Asian-American votes for his mayoral bid.

Pak, who is known for her colorful language and directness, told a flock of reporters in January, “Anybody but Leland Yee,” when asked who she is supporting for mayor.

Pak’s proxy in the mayor’s race is interim Mayor Ed Lee who, at the urging of Pak and former Mayor Willie Brown and others, reneged on a promise Monday not to exploit his “caretaker” appointment by the Board to run for a full-term.  Lee’s subsequent appearances at mayoral debates have been met with disapproving boos, hisses and air-horns.

Yee, who grew up in Chinatown in a one-bedroom flat with his mother, father and sister, said one of his aims is to bring back the Chinatown night market “not so much as a commercial venture but also as a cultural venture, so that we have an opportunity to showcase the different artists, both performing and visual artists, and other kinds of artists to talk about Chinese culture, Chinese language – those are things I think will be very helpful.”

Yee discuss his Chinatown revitalization plan.

As many as 70 residents and supporters attended the announcement event.

In addition, Yee’s plan includes maximizing the commercial viability of Chinatown’s many alleyways, expanding Chinese film festival events, promoting Chinatown as a tourist destination as well as connecting Chinatown to the tens of thousands of visitors expected during the America’s Cup in 2013.

“Leland Yee’s plan is exactly what we need in Chinatown,” said CC Yu, President of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (also known as the Chinese Six Companies). “Bringing back the night market and utilizing our alleyways would be a huge boost for our neighborhood and our city’s economy.”

As mayor, Yee said he would increase public safety in Chinatown via the deployment of foot patrols (community policing), improve pedestrian safety as well as crackdown on graffiti.  He would also make it easier for businesses to obtain operating permits.

A supporter of the Central Subway Project that will link CalTrain at 4th and Townsend streets to Chinatown via Downtown San Francisco, Yee said he would work to ensure the $1.6 billion project is completed on time by 2016.  To further improve Chinatown accessibility, Yee’s plan calls for park and ride options and the lowering of nighttime parking rates.

“As someone who relies on public transit, I am thrilled that Leland will improve our transportation options and will make public safety a priority as Mayor,” said Chinatown community leader Anne Chan Yuey.

Not limited to the concerns and desires of Chinatown residents, Yee said he also supports rent control and will support an affordable housing bond if elected.

“Finally a mayoral candidate is talking about Chinatown – providing real solutions to rejuvenate our neighborhood and improve the image of Chinatown,” said Imperial Palace Restaurant proprietor Tim Lee.  “Leland Yee understands our needs and will keep his promise to our community.”

More details of Yee’s revitalization plan are available at his campaign website.

In a further attempt to neutralize Pak’s influence, Lee dismissed the notion that international politics may play a role in the outcome of the mayor’s race, stating he maintains good relations with the Chinese government.

“I have a strong relationship with the Chinese government for the last several years,” Yee, who was born in Taishan, Guangdong, China, told FCJ.  “I’ve been in discussions with the Chinese government on Chinese medicine, so I am well-versed with that government and its people.”

Leland Yee.

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:


Comments for Yee Announces Chinatown Revitalization Plan are now closed.

  1. To Harold Brown,

    You have written before that Leland Yee changed his vote more than 100 times at the Assembly. I am a supporter of Yee, but if this is true, I might change my mind, too. Would you please list the bills on which he changed his vote, and the dates? I am expecting you to list at least 101, since you said he changed his vote “more than 100 times.” Since you repeat this number, you surely must have the facts to back it up.



  2. Harold Brown


    He was one of 3 votes in a 37-3 vote against putting a dump into a San Diego neighborhood. It probably had nothing to do with the fact that he took around $9,000 from the company wanting to befoul the suburban neighborhood. Then, the Sierra Club endorsed him?

    Did you like it when he even lied about where his children lived in order to get them into a better public school? While he was a member of the friggin’ School Board?

    How about when he sat for hours with bottles of ‘White-out’ changing CCDC records to improve their chances of receiving government grants?

    Did you know that he changed his vote after-the-fact more than 100 times at Assembly to make it appear he was a Progressive Environmentalist? You go ahead and push this guy, Annie. You may know everything about Rawanda but you don’t know squat about what’s happening in your own back yard.

    I prefer Lord Valdemort. At least he’s up front about being evil.

    Giants against Braves 4:15pm with Madbum on hill.


  3. Wonder if this stirred up any more passion in Chinatown than it did in the pages of FCJ, where it looks like I may leave the only comment. I’ll probably give Yee one of three IRV votes, even if he is using his state senate campaign funds to run for mayor. I can think of worse sins.

    I think he was the lone vote in the state senate, or maybe one of two, against S.B. 792, the Candlestick parkland giveaway to Lennar.