SF neighborhood suffers identity crisis

February 9, 2009 7:35:30 PM PST
San Francisco is a town of neighborhoods, each with a distinct flavor and name. but what if the residents call it one thing and the city has officially designated it something else? That's the issue that came before a supervisors committee today regarding the Richmond District.

Everyone in San Francisco knows the neighborhood north of Golden Gate Park and west of Arguello Boulevard.

"I've known it as the Richmond District. I've lived here all my life," said a Richmond District resident.

"I always call it the Richmond District. I always hear it called the Richmond District," said Richmond District resident Mimi. "It says Richmond District. Here it is, says it right here."

Actually, despite what the map says, or the signs throughout the neighborhood, this hasn't been the Richmond District in nearly 100 years.

It originally was named in 1890 after one of the earliest residents, an immigrant from Richmond, Australia, who lived in a house on 12th and Clement.

But in 1917, the Board of Supervisors changed the name to avoid confusion with the East Bay city of Richmond.

So for the past 92 years, its official designation is the Park Presidio District.

John Freeman is a historian and lifetime resident of the neighborhood. He's instrumental in a move to get the old name back.

"I think it starts to get under your skin when you realize 'wait a second' legally this is not the Richmond district. The Board of Supervisors changed it once and they never corrected something that never took," said Freeman.

He approached Eric Mar, the District's new supervisor. On Monday Mar introduced a measure to re-do the law.

"This is your first piece of legislation," said ABC7's Carolyn Tyler.

"Yeah and it's an important one to start on a good footing with historians and people who feel pride in our neighborhood," said Mar.

People like Mimi, who doesn't need to be convinced where she lives.

"It's always supposed to be the Richmond District. Why would they want to confuse people," said Mimi.

Changing the name won't cost the city anything which is important since San Francisco is facing a multi-million dollar budget deficit.