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Friday, January 21, 2011

Hisashi Sugaya, SF Planning Commissioner, Offends Tenderloin Residents With Drug Joke

Posted By on Fri, Jan 21, 2011 at 12:22 PM

Chris Daly wannabe
  • Chris Daly wannabe

Planning Commissioner Hisashi "Bill" Sugaya

is well on his way to becoming as notoriously offensive as former Supervisor Chris Daly. While he isn't dropping F-bombs and accusing the mayor of having a cocaine habit, Sugaya's offenses are ticking people off just the same.

Last month, former Supervisor Michela

Alioto-Pier demanded the planning commissioner apologize after he made remarks stereotyping Sicilians during a hearing about an Italian

restaurant.  Now, the Tenderloin community is riled up about Sugaya's drug comment he made during a Thursday night hearing.

Last night, the commission was debating whether to allow a market on Turk Street to sell beer and wine on a limited basis. Community members packed the room in opposition, claiming the neighborhood already has too many liquor stores catering to the nearby drunks.

After hearing from the public, Sugaya began his comments by saying: "I guess he could sell drugs or something."

Members in the audience were perplexed and baffled, saying the comment

was completely out of context and offensive to the Tenderloin community,

a hot spot of drug activity and crime. The city's first homicide of the

year happened on the same block where the market under debate is


"It was wildly inappropriate," said Jeff Buckley, executive director for the Central City SRO Collaborative. "He should respect the issues of the neighborhood. A lot of people are trying to make the Tenderloin a safer, better place."

Sugaya, who was reappointed to the commission last year, already got into trouble with the Italian American community during a commission hearing over a North Beach Italian restaurant. The commissioner said:  "I'm supportive, but I was kind of waiting for my brown paper envelopes

to come from the Sicilians. But I never got anything so, you know, I may

vote against it."

Alioto-Pier, an Italian-American of Sicilian descent, later introduced a resolution condemning the remarks.

Sugaya didn't respond to SF Weekly on Friday, but last night he seemed well aware that his comment would not be well-received -- again.

"I suppose that will come to me through the supervisor, too," Sugaya said.

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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