Public Comment

Antisocial Bullying for Some is not Hospitality for All 0n North Shattuck ((An Open Letter)

By Jennifer Mary Pearson
Friday April 05, 2013 - 06:17:00 PM

Dear Ms. Dana Ellsworth of the Board of Directors of the North Shattuck Association Business Improvement District:,

Yesterday I received this disturbing quote:

"Heather has been sending around street cleaners who are attempting to bully musicians and panhandler out of the area which she has no authority to do, arousing indignation at the French Hotel."

People are told this is from the City yet the 'cleaners' do not show City I.D. Have you voted on the NSA/BID Board for the Executive Director to commit resources for this antisocial bullying? A few of us have called your Executive Director Hensley--we learned she knows nothing about this? Enraged citizens are photographing evidence of this illegal and cruel 'cleansing of the poor' that is underway on the Rose to Cedar blocks of Shattuck Avenue.

Today I spoke with a nice polite elderly man who panhandles by the Bank of America. This morning around 10 he was threatened by 'ambassadors' that they would call the police and have him arrested if he didn't move off. That Bank's armed security guard (who often chats with him} said he could stay as did the management person at the bank and re-assigned him a spot. In a sense he 'backs up' the security guard with watching the flow--important because that bank has been held up several times per year. Imagine how his blood pressure went dangerously up! Many of us who everyday look out for each other in this shopping district are angered (again). For milennia our religious practices advocate for giving alms to the poor on the public street. To deny such is another violation of our Constitution, isn't it?

Do you know anything about 'ambassadors' hired by the BID to harasses and threaten good people who are NOT blocking the right of way? Instead, why is no one improving the path of travel for pedestrians, wheelchairs and baby carriages by the pizza shop line?Please visit and see for yourself. 

For lunch and dinner times the sidewalk is often blocked by 3 or more patrons abreast in the pizza line--milling about oblivious to our path of travel--we have to say loudly" "excuse me..let me pass"... Add 2 to 4 solicitors accosting us to collect signatures and 'donations.'. Boisterous young people in that line DO bump into us walking by--if we are elderly and have common balance deficits, we fall down. It is the panhandlers with 'Street Spirit' newspapers who pick us up! We have learned they watch out for us and at times have served to warn us of the presence of robbers intending to snatch purses and cell phones. 

Have you voted on the NSA/BID Board for the Executive Director to commit resources for this antisocial bullying? What more is to come? There are so many of us who have had been told by employees and business owners they are angered by Ms. Hensley's manner of coming into their shops and telling them what to do--yet not listening to their suggestions for district-wide 'improvements.' Nor, were they noticed that this cleansing/ bullying would take place. Similarly, they often are not noticed of street closings for Hensley's 'events.'  

How does the Board handle ACCOUNTABILITY of the Executive Director? You and other property owners are paying a levy for the management of the BID. Is there any effort to work up a performance audit? As a business person what is the business model that is the basis for operating this BID? 

Business people DO know about the ebbs and flows of business in their neighborhoods. Some grasp their slowing down of sales has to do with business cycles, less spending in times of recession, etc.. Now Safeway is reopened, no one says parking is scarce. There is ALWAYS metered parking available--even in the dinner hours when the Farmers' Market uses up many spots.(We have Thursday evening photos). 

In conclusion, we have been documenting these North Shattuck Shopping District contradictions with photos, researching the "Tactical Urbanism" planners playbook of tools such as 'increments', 'semi-permanent' projects that are intended to prove themselves by existing over time and more.  

Especially worrisome is the UNREASONABLE Discrimination (of elderly, disabled and differently-abled) by designing hazardous diagonal parking on a hill. We will no longer be ACCOMMODATED to parallel park to comfortably walk a short distance to shop at Healthy Nutrition, leave cleaning at Bing Wong's or meet for brunch at Bel Forno cafe..willl drive elsewhere. If this was a good idea, an improvement for business, it would have widespread stakeholder support of businesses, employees, customers and adjacent community--instead it is hidden by 'stealth planning' strategies. We hope you will address the troubling discrimination, bullying and hiding associated with this BID for the benefit of all. 

If you like, we can meet with you to answer your questions and share information.