The Excelsior District Improvement Association (EDIA) is a community organization that has been dedicated to improving the quality of everyday life in the Excelsior District since 1942.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with EDIA President Jackie Cash, Secretary May Wong, and Board Member Robert Katz. They told me a little about their personal histories in the neighborhood – May Wong was born and raised here – her family had a laundry in the same block as the Library. They also explained EDIA’s goals and how they accomplish them.
EDIA’s current involvement in neighborhood concerns can be traced back to their response to a threat in 1959 to demolish 88 Excelsior district homes to provide off street parking. Former EDIA President John Consiglieri spearheaded the fight against this plan of mayoral candidate George Christopher. Consiglieri met with friends and neighbors to organize the opposition to the removal of homes. A petition to stop the demolition with more than 8000 signatures was taken to City Hall by EDIA and neighborhood organizations from West Portal, Sunset and Richmond (rumored to be "next" if Christopher's plan worked in the Excelsior District). The plan was defeated, and the Excelsior District Neighborhood Association was revitalized. John Consiglieri, at age 93, is the Sergeant at Arms, still leading the Pledge of Allegiance at EDIA's monthly meetings.
EDIA tries to be the voice for those with no voice, including victims of crimes. Sometimes EDIA is made aware of concerns when community members come to them. Sometimes they work on issues with other organizations, like EAG.
In 2008 there was a triple homicide in the neighborhood. EDIA members were dismayed by the inadequacy of the official response. They put together a forum with police and community leaders to discuss what was being done. EDIA printed up leaflets and distributed them throughout the neighborhood and more than 400 people came to Monroe School to share their concerns.
More recently, EDIA has been working on a program they call “Light Up the Night.” The beautiful trees which line Persia Street also make it very dark and susceptible to criminal activity. EDIA asked the police what they would do to address the problem, and they suggested improving the lighting.
EDIA identified a simple, short term solution while they worked toward something more permanent. They knocked on every door on Persia Street and asked the inhabitants to turn on their porch lights at night. They took Chinese and Spanish translators with them. PG&E donated lightbulbs which EDIA members gave to the homeowners. PG&E has agreed to ramp up the wattage on the streetlights and add cobra lights to the poles without lights. In the most recent monthly report from the Ingleside police captain, there was NO crime on Persia Street.
Next up – Russia Street!
In addition to crime, EDIA has worked on economic development issues, parking and pedestrian safety. Due to their efforts, a light was finally installed in the dangerous crosswalk on Santa Rosa Avenue near Central Drug.
EDIA welcomes new members. I can vouch for the fact that they are a fun group. They meet on the fourth Tuesday every month at 45 Santa Rosa Avenue at 7 p.m. There are volunteer opportunities for adults and teens, and teens with an interest in journalism, art or writing are especially encouraged to get in touch. Contact EDIA at:
Excelsior District Improvement Association (EDIA)
P.O. Box 12005
San Francisco, CA 94112-0005
Check out this great Excelsior community organization!
In the Neighborhood features information about people and places in the Excelsior neighborhood that you may already know and love, or that might be new to you. Watch this space!