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Japantown May Get Some Nice Things

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Japantown's streetgrid hasn't gotten much love since the 1960s, when cars were king and the city was busy removing pedestrian areas. But the Planning Department is pushing for major upgrades: more parks, less freeway; more groundfloor retail, fewer blank walls. Japantown's pretty, but its car-friendly, human-antagonistic design has turned it into a bit of a deadzone. The Planning Dept.'s remedy calls for about $41 million in upgrades, raised from local taxes and developer fees.

The regular anxieties are popping up around the plan: some folks are afraid that fewer cars means fewer customers. Fortunately, that's simply not the case: as merchants are learning in Times Square, newly installed pedestrian amenities mean more customers hanging around, rather than motoring through. Other concerns are harder to pin down with specifics: there's the regular OH NOES THINGS MIGHT CHANGE chatter, and then there's a claim that this is a battle between those who want to "preserve the community versus those who want to have economic development." Seems like a false dichotomy to us.
· Big changes urged for Japantown [An Examiner]
· Economic Lights Burn Bright In Times Square [NY1]
· The Gentrification of San Francisco’s Japantown [Nichi Bei Times]
· What to do with Japantown [Curbed SF]
· Jtown Conundrum: Love it or Fix it [Curbed SF]