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Friday, August 8, 2008

Updates: Japantown Festivals and Muni Transfer Coupons

Here are some new updates to past postings on Akit's Complaint Department.

First of all, Japantown being threatened by a condo association and developer:
  • I'm generating a lot of heat (the good kind) by spreading the word around where I can. I've received a few e-mails from community leaders and members of the public, and received wide exposure through Yelp's "Talk" pages (click here to view).
  • It is becoming a consensus around the Yelp area that although the festivals may be the same, the food might not be the world's best (although I argue that it is good food for a good cause (the J-town community organizations)), it is an annual tradition to hold two festivals in Japantown. There is also the argument going around about the letters written by the president and developer of 1600 Webster saying that they went a little too far in their letter. In my opinion, I think they are trying to bully an event that started 35 years ago to bring the community together, and now they want to rip us apart. It is much more respectful to write a kinder letter while still making your requests (not demands), and not going off topic about the look of our malls, the food, the gifts, etc.

As for Muni, or what I like to call it, "the dumbest system on earth:"
Then on the ride back, it was the start of the 9th inning and the Dodgers was whipping our butts bad, and one metro train just left, and about 200 people were on the platform for the next train. The train did not arrive for about 10 to 15 minutes after the most recent train left, and people were leaving the game and waiting for the next vehicle. The wait got so long, that I confronted a Muni official who was on the track level (I was on the platform) arguing that it should not take like 15 minutes for a train to come by and pickup people from a GIANTS GAME. Then the guy wanted to confront me, demanding me to show my face. I sure did show my face in bravery showing that I don't take shit from Muni and their lousy officials. The guy told me to go take a cab, it was just down the block. I demanded his employee ID number when I threatened to call SF's 311, and the guy never gave it to me, and walked away. OOOOH... you don't walk away from me. I yelled at him that he was a disgrace to being a government employee.

Do you ever wonder? If a Muni operator causes an accident, injuries, or even kills someone, the chances are good that their union will keep them on the job. Hey Muni union, you better remember that the local taxpayers RULE YOU and we can find a way to make you wipe your own ass instead of the taxpayers doing that right now. And we have the basic right to treat you like shit if you treat us like shit.

I've thrown Muni to a brand new low when I caught them breaking a promise and capturing it on video. Now, this happens and I should have caught it on video too. Damn, I had my camera on me.

Lastly, there was also a fistfight on the Muni metro platform at Embarcadero. Some lady on the same train I was on, accused a guy behind her of hitting her (or maybe just an accidental shove), then they exit the train. I'm walking to the opposite escallator when I hear screaming and I turn around and say "holy shit" and see two people fighting each other. They go up past the fare gates, and I'm talking to the booth lady to get the cops. So BART police arrive, turns out that they think that the fight happened on the BART platform and stops all the trains going in and out, delaying everyone for at least five to ten minutes when the damn incident happened on Muni's platform and the confrontation continued on the faregate platform!

Dang, what a day.

Correction: "Muni to BART" transfer ticket, not "BART to Muni"


Whole Wheat Toast said...

That Irwin Lum has got to be the dumbest piece 0f shit to run a union. Pardon my language, but, you know, has to come out.

www.Japanese-City.com said...


Real estate broker reaches out to JAs for potential buyers of Uyeda building in Little Tokyo.
By Todd Kushigemachi, Special to the Pacific Citizen
Published August 5, 2008

The Japanese American community has expressed concern, ranging from passive disappointment to utter rage, about the sales of Little Tokyo property to investors without ties to the community. In the eyes of many, Japantown is at risk of no longer being Japanese.

Now, the community has a chance to do something about it.

The former Uyeda building located at the intersection of First Street and San Pedro in Los Angeles is for sale, and the real estate broker has reached out to find potential buyers who are either JA or sensitive to local interests. Nikkei investors now have an opportunity to keep the building in the community.

As of mid-July, there were only two offers on the former Uyeda property, both from investors with no ties to the community. However, Jonathan Kaji, president of Kaji and Associates, said he is now considering buying the building.

"It's my belief that Little Tokyo is strategically located to benefit from future development in downtown Los Angeles," he said.

An Opportunity Arises
Kay Sasatomi, real estate broker with Colliers International, said she read a Los Angeles Times article about apprehension amongst community members that the Little Tokyo Shopping Center would be turned into a Korean-themed spa by its new owners. She was moved to contact Bill Watanabe, executive director of the Little Tokyo Service Center, to find possible JA buyers for the Uyeda building, which went on sale July 5.

"I'm from Japan, and I want to respect the history and the cultural authenticity of the area," Sasatomi said. "I [wanted] to make sure the people in the community knew it was on sale, so if they want to make an offer on it they can, in the interest of keeping ownership in the community."

She has taken the time to attend community meetings and is planning to run advertisements in local JA publications to increase awareness of the sale. Sasatomi's efforts in the community have not gone unnoticed.

"I think that's a very positive sign," Kaji said of Sasatomi's outreach. "In the past, wherever significant properties have come available, the real estate broker community has tended to steer these properties around Little Tokyo and Japanese American investors."

According to Sasatomi, there is no official sale date, and she said she could not disclose details about current offers or the owner of the building, who is non-Nikkei. Sasatomi said, however, that there is a lot of interest in the property.

Although nothing has been made official, Kaji told the Pacific Citizen that he is considering buying the property. Kaji, who expressed interest in purchasing the Little Tokyo Shopping Center when it was for sale, has also partnered with the Little Tokyo Service Center in an effort to develop the Mangrove property, located at First and Alameda Streets.

Kaji said his family has been active in Little Tokyo for three generations. His uncle Taul Watanabe was the owner of the property at First and San Pedro before the Uyeda family, and his grandfather Kikuwo Tashiro had his medical practice in the building. Under the ownership of Watanabe, the building was referred to as the Taul building.

Significance to Community
There has been a recent trend of investors without ties to the community buying property in Little Tokyo, threatening the cultural significance of the buildings. Recent business dealings include the secretive sales of the New Otani Hotel and Weller Court to 3D Investments and the purchase of the Little Tokyo Shopping Center by Korean American owners.

Alan Kumamoto, vice chair of the Little Tokyo Community Council, said he thinks strong economic interest in property from investors without ties to the community will adversely affect the potential JA character of the former Uyeda building.

"Will that building somehow retain a Japanese flavor? I don't think so," he said. "If it's an ethnically-purchased building, the likelihood is that they'll try to acquire people of their own ethnicity there."

Ernest Hida of American Holiday Travel, a tenant of the building, said he did not know about the sale until he was notified by e-mail last week. Although Hida said he does not think ownership will affect his business, he said, "It's a good idea to give [Nikkei] the opportunity to invest in the community."

In the past, the building served a dual purpose, as both a social and business entity, according to Kumamoto. In addition to the different businesses based in the building, he said the basement used to be a pool hall where people drank and gambled.

The former building was damaged during the 1987 Whittier earthquake. Instead of making repairs, the Uyeda family, a longtime merchant family in Little Tokyo, decided to demolish the damaged building and build the current building in the early 1990s, according to Satoru Uyeda, a family member and businessman.

The bank took the building back from the Uyeda family in the mid-1990s, and there have been at least two owners before the current non-Nikkei owner, Uyeda said. The family now operates S. K. Uyeda Store on First Street.

To many, the intersection of First and San Pedro where the building is located was once a key center of the Little Tokyo community.

"If at one point or another, if you wanted to say where the heart of Little Tokyo was, that might be one of the spots," Kumamoto said.

Bill Watanabe, who encouraged Kaji to make an offer on the property, said ownership of the former Uyeda building could strongly affect the role of the building in the community in the years to come.

"As long as we try to find some owners who are from the community, I think that will help position that building, that location in the years to come to be a little more of a center of the community," Watanabe said.

The Pacific Citizen Web site gives you a sampling of the stories currently in the print edition of the P.C. Click here to subscribe and get two months free!

Akit said...

I hear ya whole wheat toast. Lum is one bozo. Put me as mayor, and his butt is gone in a flash.