Art walk used to protest Chase Bank

Pub date April 13, 2011
WriterAsaf Shalev
SectionPolitics Blog

This week’s Thursday evening Divisadero Art Walk is going to combine local culture with a clear political message. Local activists have dubbed the night the “No Chase Block Party” to protest a banking giant’s unwelcome entry in their neighborhood. Many in the neighborhood pride themselves on staving off the corporate chains, but now J.P. Morgan Chase is set to open a new branch at the intersection of Divisadero and Oak streets. Previously, the retail location held three locally owned shops including a specialty cheese vendor.

“We are intentionally choosing to have the action as part of the Divisadero Art Walk to both celebrate and participate in the creative community that exists and is blossoming here,” said Ilyse Magy, a local resident helping with the outreach. “The Block Party will be just that, a block party, a chance for neighbors to meet neighbors and have actual conversations about what they want their neighborhood to look like.”

Magy and others will present an art project in which resident that walk by can brainstorm and write down ideas for the neighborhood. Additionally, information about local credit unions will be available, she said.

As for corporate chains, two other Chase branches lie within a 10-block radius, and a Bank of America is around the corner, indicating there is no shortage of banking options in the area. The location, however, is excellent for displaying an advertising logo considering the immense traffic on that stretch of Divisadero.

The community action is happening in conjunction with formal appeals to the San Francisco Planning Commission. City law requires chain businesses that move into certain neighborhoods to undergo a conditional use permit hearing. But the Planning Department has interpreted the law to exempt banks, thus preventing a hearing that would empower community voices and local concerns.