San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton announced a resolution this week to create a new Pacific Islander Cultural District spanning the Visitacion Valley and Sunnydale neighborhoods.
Before announcing the resolution at the board meeting Tuesday, Walton said at a press conference at City Hall that the new district will recognize the contributions from the Pacific Islander community in The City:
“It is very important that we promote the contributions, the leadership, the work of the Pacific Islander community here in San Francisco. It has always given me great honor to work with the very diverse cultures that we have here.”
Walton said establishing the cultural district would make a statement of continued support for the Pacific Islander community, and ensure they receive resources and support from The City.
The proposed heritage district is bounded roughly by Mansell Avenue through McLaren Park to Visitacion Boulevard, Bayshore Boulevard, Geneva Boulevard, then along Moscow, France and LaGrange Streets. The proposal includes Crocker Amazon playground and soccer fields, plus a portion of McLaren Park. Most of the district would be located in District 10, represented by Walton, with its southwest portion extending into District 11, represented by Ahsha Safai. District 1 Supervisor Connie Chan, representing the Richmond District, co-sponsored the resolution.
U.S. Census data shows that 0.4 percent of the population in The City identified solely as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. A report from the Regional Pacific Islander Taskforce showed the Pacific Islander population grew by 27 percent from 2000 to 2017 in California.
Walton’s office said the Pacific Islander community has been in The City for over 100 years, settling mostly in the Visitacion Valley and Sunnydale neighborhoods. After World War II, many Pacific Islanders migrated from American Samoa to San Francisco for job opportunities, including working in the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.
The influx of Pacific Islanders from the 1950s through the 1980s was also attributed to the Mormon Church, who recruited and sponsored them for missionary work, Walton’s office said.
Ponipate Rokolekutu, professor of Pacific Islander Studies at San Francisco State University, said this was a pivotal moment for the Pacific Islander community:
“This initiative is a fight against the erasure of our culture to ensure that there is visibility to uplift the community.”
Faauuga Moliga, former San Francisco Board of Education member, said he used to get calls from parents about why Pacific Islander kids were not showing up for school, but said that kids are now feeling seen. Moliga said Leola Havard Early Education, a Samoan preschool in the Bayview, has the highest attendance and is unable to accept more kids:
“They feel seen and when you see people whether they’re black, Latin, Native American, Pacific Islander, they’re gonna show up. They’re gonna show up because they believe that you care about them.”
District 1 Supervisor Connie Chan, representing the Richmond District, is a co-sponsor of the resolution. If passed by the board, the Pacific Islander Cultural District would become the 10th cultural district in The City.