A half-century of lies - Page 5

Thousands of Fillmore residents lost homes and businesses to redevelopment - and were promised a chance to return. 50 years later, Leola King is still waiting

And her battle, laid out in hundreds of pages of documents saved by King over several decades and reviewed by the Guardian, was ultimately unsuccessful..

By 1997, King was submerged in bankruptcy proceedings and would lose pretty much everything that she owned, including an Edwardian landmark home on Scott Street near Alamo Square where she'd lived for years (partially burned in a 1986 fire, believe it or not) and a residential building on Sutter Street.

Goldie's was to be her final resting place, a roost from which she hoped to feature cabaret dancing, fresh crab at happy hour, a refined art deco aesthetic and live music performances. She lost that, too. Today, it's Diva's just off Polk Street.

Urban renewal won.


Hopeful press accounts lately foretell a jazz revival in the Fillmore District fueled by enterprising developers deft at financing lucrative redevelopment projects through tax incentives and low-interest loans half a century after the promise of "renewal," now described euphemistically as "historic preservation."

But with such a sordid history behind them, it's no wonder residents of Bayview-Hunter's Point, many of whom escaped Western Addition "renewal" in the first place, are leery of a pending years-long plan to redevelop nearly 1,500 acres in the southeast neighborhoods.

Bayview newspaper publisher Willie Ratcliff led a petition drive last year in an effort to put the plan before voters. Over 20,000 petition signatures were certified by elections officials, but City Attorney Dennis Herrera ruled the petitions were technically invalid because circulators hadn't presented the full text of the redevelopment plan to signers. Redevelopment foes have since sued to have Herrera's decision tossed.

"The misuse by these people is just unbelievable," King said. "They were fighting me every inch."

Thanks to Susan Bryan for joining the Guardian in reviewing hundreds of pages of public and personal records preserved in Leola King's estate. Bryan is currently working with Monkey Paw Productions on a documentary about King's life

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