When we initially began to drill down on the Freeway Commemoration project back in early July we could not predict we would be embarking on a campaign for a rectification of a flawed process. Each attempt to gather information via conversations or meeting attendance has contributed to the handful of summaries we’ve posted on our blog; without the collective effort of HVSafe members none of this would have been possible. If you haven’t read our prior posts we encourage you to do so…there’s a lot to this story to unpack.
In a day and age where transparency in process is often lacking or seemingly purposefully opaque to discourage civic engagement, we find the unraveling of this story to be a disheartening dismantling of community participation: an attribute that this neighborhood has prided itself on for decades.
Considering how a pandemic unwittingly isolated community members during a period when human connections were sought out, we’re feeling positive about our role in having cast light on this project’s troubling process, which in turn has activated interest by community members.
What happened in a nutshell
In our view the agenda for this project has been dictated by a select few; many of whom have conflicts of interests. This project has exceeded past its intended purpose and has morphed into something rather grandiose. There has been a level of impropriety in regards to both the committee and jury panel selection overseeing this project. Community outreach and input has been dismal when it should have been front and center.
The current voting process is deeply flawed (please see our post here on specifics) and must be considered null and void. If it is to be considered for any future consideration, disclosure of all data collected on the project’s (byebyefreeway) website must be made available.
Disparity between 2 proposals
The RFP outlines a project fee range of $250,000- $1,000,000. The disparity between the 2 proposals on the table is alarming. Right now we have a proposal by Mark (who is a family member of the committee lead Gail Baugh) which exceeds the RFP scope and budget with a starting cost of $5,658,625! The other team’s proposal (IDE0) pales in comparison both in scale and cost but is well within the scope of the RFP. This outcome begs the question why one proposal was allowed to go out of bounds of the RFP and why it is even in contention!
Another question that has gone unanswered: why the process at this juncture has dwindled down to only 2 proposals?
As of this week the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association (HVNA) continues to market this project as an “Octavia improvement project” as seen here in their latest email newsletter. Should the neighborhood seek to embark on a boulevard improvement plan it should be acknowledged as such and be subject to a proper vetting and approval process.
Where do we go from here? It’s time to hit the reset button.
It’s time to get REAL; and it’s time to separate a vision from reality. The intent of the RFP was to memorialize the removal of the freeway, not to arrive at a plan for an urban renewal of Octavia.
We’re seeking fair and just oversight of this project with open participation by all those seeking to be included. A new committee should be formed by representatives of the neighborhood from various walks: not limited to artists. The jury/selection panel should be replaced with a transparent democratic voting process overseen by the community. New and additional design teams should be allowed to participate in this process. Proposals must be approved and certified to be in accordance to RFP specifications.
We need to go back to the drawing board.
Any diversion away from the many improprieties that have played out here is simply a red herring.
What can you do? How can YOU get involved in getting this project on track?
*We encourage you to read all our posts on this subject as we’ve tried our best to encapsulate as much digestible information on this matter. If you have any questions and want to be kept in the loop on next steps, please reach out to us.