Funds raised for vandalism victims sits unclaimed


Things are looking good along Valencia Street these days, but on the night of April 30, a stretch of San Francisco's Mission District was attacked by vandals. The crime wave followed a peaceful pre-May Day rally in Dolores Park. "There were paint bombs and there were a group with pipes," Steven Lopez recalled. Lopez's gallery, Artzone 461, had all the front windows broken and the front door smashed in.

In all, police reported nearly 30 businesses damaged. A neighbor immediately started a fundraising drive that netted $10,000 to help pay for repairs and Wells Fargo donated $25,000 but so far, just two businesses have applied for and received money. Artzone's owners got $2,500. "It was something that was really able to help our bottom line," Lopez said.

Michelle Horneff-Cohen with the Merchants Association is handling the grant money. "Come and get it," she says. The windows of her own business, Property Management Systems, were shattered in the vandalism spree and she plans to get her share. So, why isn't everybody else coming forward? "A lot of it is not knowing that the funds are there. Secondly, they are under the impression that if their insurance reimbursed them, they wouldn't be eligible. This has nothing to do with how much your deductible was or if you were reimbursed," she told ABC7 News.

The vandals smashed in the door of one restaurant causing about $300 in damage, but the owner has not asked for reimbursement from either of the two funds. "All the people have more damage than us and I think we don't need it," said Monica Varela at Pica Pica Maize. But after hearing that about $28,000 is just sitting there, Varela says she might apply. A half-dozen others are now talking about doing the same.

Horneff-Cohen would like to give all the money away by July 31.

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