With new cultural district, SF's Pacific Islander community hopes to be seen and recognized

ByTim Johns via KGO logo
Tuesday, November 15, 2022
SF's Pacific Islander community recognized with new cultural district
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A new resolution expected to be passed by the SF Board of Supervisors Tuesday would create the city's 10th cultural district, focused specifically on the Pacific Islander community.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Tucked away on the border of San Francisco and Daly City, you'll find Polynesian Island Luau.

The store, which specializes in items from around the Pacific Rim, is the last of its kind in a neighborhood once known for its thriving Pacific Islander population.

"If we were thriving 30, 50 thousand strong between the 1950s to the 1980s, then all of a sudden today we're 3,359 anybody would look at that and say what happened?" said Gaynorann Siataga, of the Pacific Islander Community Hub.

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What happened, according to Siataga, was the rising cost of living in San Francisco hit the Pacific Islander community hard - driving many out of Visitacion Valley.

But a new resolution going in front of the Board of Supervisors Tuesday hopes to change that.

It would create the city's 10th cultural district - similar to those already established in places like Japantown, the Mission and the Castro.

This one would focus specifically on the Pacific Islander community.

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"It is important that everyone has a voice, everyone is heard, and everyone is connected to the resources that this city has," said president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Shamann Walton.

The idea has been years in the making.

The hope among many Pacific Islanders is not just for the district to reinvigorate their community, but also to shine a spotlight on a group that is often times forgotten.

Despite being small in absolute numbers, the Pacific Islander community has greatly contributed to both the Bay Area and the country as a whole.

Many Islanders fought for the US Army during World War II, helped build infrastructure throughout the American West and worked in agriculture in and around San Francisco.

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"A lot of our folks, and we're talking about our ancestors, grandparents, have migrated to this country for the American Dream," Siataga said.

The board is expected to pass Tuesday's resolution.

A win Siataga says is not just for her community, but for everyone.

"Whoever wants to sit here and work with us and rock with us, we're down," said Siataga.

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