“PUEBLOTE”-Transforming Underutilized Public Lots Into Public Benefits
People Organizing to Demand Environmental & Economic Rights (PODER) is a grassroots community organization of immigrant Latinos from the Mission, Excelsior and other southeast San Francisco neighborhoods. Since 1991, PODER has organized with Latino immigrant families to develop leadership skills and organize campaigns to achieve cleaner air, open-space and affordable housing for the community.
In 2009, PODER launched the PUEBLOTE Campaign: (Re)Claiming Lots for the People to reclaim and repurpose city-owned lands in the inner-city, and advance PODER’s vision of creating local solutions to the global climate crisis. In 2011, PODER had a major win by successfully advocating for the Public Utilities Commission to turn over an underutilized public lot at the intersection of 17th Street and Folsom in the Mission to the city to convert it into open space and affordable housing.
Currently, PODER is facilitating a community planning process for the 17th Street park design, and also advancing community demands to convert a second public lot at the Balboa Park BART Station, located in the Excelsior neighborhood, into a multi-use affordable housing project.
PODER is seeking funds to continue engaging residents in the ongoing process to convert the underutilized lots to community assets. Through door-to-door education, community forums, and youth-led bike tours, PODER leaders are paving the way to make the Mission, the Excelsior and other southeast San Francisco neighborhoods a climate resilient community for all neighbors.
PODER members are our greatest assets. In order to sustain our membership, PODER runs programs to engage adult, elder, and youth members and develop their skills. For example, members are involved in a community cooperative where they support one another through mutual exchanges of skills and services. The members also form Community Action Teams, which provide oversight and strategy development to PODER’s campaigns. Youth members have provided bike tours to educate residents about the environmental issues and the PUEBLOTE campaign. Youth also participate in service-learning projects and help maintain the community’s Secret Garden on 23rd Street and Harrison Street.
Through August 2012, PODER will:
• prepare members to participate in the Parks & Recreation hearing to finalize the design for the 17th St lot.
• prepare members to participate in the selection process with the Arts Commission to determine the artists who will help beautify the converted lot.
• PODER youth will complete service-learning projects and 10 bike tours of the community.
• support PODER’s community cooperative activities, such as, Community Gardening; Cooking; and Computer Literacy;
• organize with Action Team members to advocate to secure the commitment of the Municipal Transit Agency to transfer the Upper Yard/Balboa BART Station site to enable future affordable housing and community development;
• and, participate in PODER 21: Creating Grassroots Solutions for Healthy Neighborhoods & People-Powered Economies effort to celebrate PODER’s 21st anniversary.
why we’re doing it
Immigrant Latinos in San Francisco are being displaced by multiple waves of gentrification caused by the technology boom of the late 1990’s. These gentrification waves increase the disparities in the community because high cost lofts and condos have caused rents to skyrocket. The Mission is a mixed-zone community. PODER aims to increase the amount of affordable housing, open-space and good paying blue collar jobs available to low-income, immigrant families in the community.