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A Grassroots Effort

SF Neighborhoods

This website is intended to giving power to citizens to promote transparency, democratic equality and to increase participation in their neighborhoods and government.


Build Public

Build Public is a non-profit that has been contracted out to give support to Green Benefit Districts (GBD) Formation Committees in San Francisco. The contracts are district by district and financing is in the form of grants. Part of the money can be paid back to the city if a GBD is formed.

Build Public has a registered DBA (“Doing Business As”) called Place Lab. D.b.a. in California is called "fictitious business name". A DBA allows a company to legally operate under a trade name, also known as an "assumed" or "fictitious" name. It is unclear why Place Lab exists other than to confuse or hide. Most likely, the use of Place Lab is to make it harder to draw a direct line to Build Inc. It is basically a website that is very similar to Build Public but with a different name. So far all contracts and funding for GBDs go to Build Public and not Place Lab. Place Lab is the name that Build Public wants people to use. People should use Build Public instead of Place Lab.

Build Public was started by Michael Yarne, of Build Inc. is a San Francisco multifamily residential developer that approaches each project as a holistic venture to foster thriving places.“ Michael Yarne has said he wants to be the Uber of urban spaces, i.e. privatize and co-op and disrupt. (2014, the "GBD = Uber of Public Space", comment, straight from the horse's mouth)

In 2018, PlaceLabs and Michael Yarne have moved to SF Parks Alliance
Shows PlaceLabs Brooke Ray Rivera, and Julia Ayeni
and Michael Yarne on the board as Secretary; Innovation Committee Chair

Michael Yarne currently is in trouble for trying to steal land assigned to a community center in order to fulfill his low-cost housing responsibility he incurred in gentrifying the Dogpatch.

Other info, 2017, massive apartment complex, Yarne complains about parking spaces being cut? He is separating his profit center (building luxury apartments) by creating "fun spaces" (to support these buildings and make them desirable) from formerly public land and with parcel assessment payments through Build Public and GBDs.

Build Public sees the Inner Sunset Green Benefit District as a possibility of getting big donations by inflating the costs of the ISGBD formation. In Inner Sunset Green Benefit District: Donor Information, Prepared by Build Public, August 2017. It gives a fairly detailed budget for ISGBD formation at a cost of $ 216,350.00 To help cover this formation expenditure, it has gotten grants from the city/supervisor of about $70,000 - $84,250* and the document outlines getting $168,002.00 in donations from large property owners in the proposed ISGBD. In the main part of the document and in the Appendix B letter to ask large property owners, it states that the donation is considered a refundable contribution if the ISGBD is formed. In the draft Management Plan the cap for reimbursement of donations for successful formation of the ISGBD is $50,000. There are going to be some disappointed people and organizations if they expect their money back. On page 4 of the document, it says Build Public has received $11,400 from the Inner Sunset GBD Formation Committee, even though this seems noted further in the document of donations received as coming from the Academy of Science, who does have a representative on the Formation Committee. From the Appendix B letter “and as such, I/we have the option to be reimbursed by the GBD for the original donation amount after successful GBD formation, or to request that the reimbursement is converted into a permanent tax-deductible donation to Build Public on behalf of the GBD.” Looks like Build Public will get a donation of everything not spent and above the $50,000 ISGBD draft Management Plan limit.

The plantings were paid for through the Green Benefit Districts program started five years ago by developer Michael Yarne of Build Inc., which recently completed O&M Dogpatch, a 116-unit development at 650 Indiana St. The program levies a voluntary tax on developers and uses the money to improve and maintain public open spaces throughout the neighborhood. So far every developer has agreed to pay into the district, which has smoothed the approval process.

“It’s a beautifully proportionate relationship,” Yarne said. “The capacity of the Green Benefit Districts to do good work grows precisely in unison with the number of new units and new people.”

Are Green Benefit Districts really grassroots?

Other Build Public documents:
San Francisco City and Build Public First Grant Agreement for the formation of the Inner Sunset Green Benefit District
San Francisco City and Build Public First Grant Receipt for the formation of the Inner Sunset Green Benefit District
Inner Sunset Merchant Association and Build Public Agreement Feasibility Phase Inner Sunset Green Benefit District

Inner Sunset Green Benefit District: Donor Information, Prepared by Build Public, August 2017

San Francisco City Public Works 2017 Fall Grant Funding for Proposed GBDs: Inner Sunset GBD est. $50K, Buena Vista GBD est. $20K, Bayview GBD est. $25K, Marina GBD est. $15K, Sunnyside GBD est $20K

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