Last month we informed you that Jen Laska, current president of HVNA (Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association) is concurrently on the payroll of GrowSF, a political action committee.
The HVNA’s involvement with a political action committee presents a serious conflict of interest and compromises its credibility as a community serving association. HVSafe believes representation at the community level is critical and must not be tainted by partisan politics or personal agendas.
The association has used its name to promote the agendas of its elite membership over three decades, thus subverting an average citizen’s right to be part of the civic process. The pandemic exposed the failure of HVNA leadership to conduct inclusive and broad community outreach for consensus/agreement while claiming to represent the Hayes Valley Community at large, which was intentionally excluded from the decision making process and engagement with City Agencies and City Hall. This approach has led to a myriad of problematic programs and policies in relation to transportation and development, parking, street closures, Formula Retail, permits, community access, and small business representation.
Jen Laska’s position as Head of Operations at GrowSF while remaining in a leadership position at HVNA leaves no firewall between the PAC and the neighborhood association. Her position as president of the HVNA can be advantageously exploited to support the political agenda and campaign of her employer. Whatever position or action the HVNA takes will be under a cloud of suspicion.
In fact, votes were still being counted from the election last week when GrowSF launched an acrid campaign against Supervisor Dean Preston. A day hadn’t even passed.
The HVNA Board should live up to its ethical obligation to be impartial and demand the immediate resignation of Jen Laska from her leadership role. Not doing so is an epic failure in leadership and judgment by the HVNA and does nothing in the service of bettering Hayes Valley.
Collaborating with any elected official presents challenges and Supervisor Dean Preston is no exception. However, HVSafe believes, irrespective of one’s political views, it is vital to maintain a constructive working relationship with our supervisor in order to tackle the many issues impacting Hayes Valley. We are taking this necessary step to share our position openly with our community and make clear HVSafe is an organization that advocates and organizes independently of HVNA.