IOU on Y
Japanese-American community leaders have issued a challenge to the San Francisco YWCA: Surrender title to the Japantown Y next month, or face a lawsuit.

Earlier this year, the Y tried to sell the building at 1830 Sutter to pay off its debts (see “Japantown Asks 'Y,' ” Bay View, Oct. 16). But community leaders protested, saying the building was constructed with Japanese-American money and given to the Y only in trust.

The Japanese-American Community Steering Committee — three Japanese-American Christian churches and the Japanese Cultural and Community Center (JCCC) — has given the Y a Dec. 2 deadline. Paul Osaki, executive director of the JCCC, says the committee “will have no choice but to file a lawsuit” if the Y does not respond or acknowledge the trust.

YWCA board meeting minutes from the 1920s show that Japanese-American churchgoers and other people in the community raised the money for the building and the property it occupies. The minutes further show that the Y bought the property on behalf of the Japanese-American community, since Asian-Americans were legally barred from owning property at the time.

So, when questions over title surfaced during the recent sales attempts, the Y panicked, yanking the property off the market in September. The Y has since been conspicuously silent. YWCA Board President Linda Hills-Davis did not return calls by press time.

Osaki says the committee is ready to fight. The churches have established the 1830 Sutter Legal Defense Fund, and have enlisted the help of the well-known law firm of Minami, Lew & Tamaki.

— T.S.

Masked Gang Terrorizes City
They're brazen gang members without conscience. And they're terrorizing S.F. neighborhoods. Wearing masks, they break into homes even while residents are present.

And they're particularly fond of pet food.
The raccoon population is growing, says Fish and Game Warden Dan Andreen, mostly because they've adapted to humans and aren't particularly afraid of them. A recent target seems to be the Eureka Valley/Castro area, where neighbors say a gang of raccoons is wreaking havoc on their yards — digging up plants in search of worms — tearing through garbage, and gobbling up pet food. In one case, a resident was awakened in the middle of the night by critters roaming around her house.

Animal control officials can't do a thing, unless the varmint is sick or injured. Federal law protects raccoons. According to Andreen, it is illegal to trap raccoons and move them. Ironically, federal law does permit citizens to kill raccoons, so long as the killer can prove property damage first. But, of course, it's against local law to discharge a firearm in S.F.

Instead, raccoon gang experts urge residents to keep doors and windows closed, backyard lights lit, and pet food inaccessible. Should you encounter an interloper, experience suggests that banging pans seems to work.

— L.D.

Domestic Partners
Back when they served on the Board of Supervisors together, Assemblyman Kevin Shelley and Assemblywoman Carole Migden pursued a heady political rivalry — which culminated in 1994 when Shelley collected more votes than Migden and became board president. Now that both have landed in Sacramento, the competition is sure to reignite, a prediction made more intriguing by the happenstance that they now live in the same apartment building on the same floor. Jokes Shelley: “We'll probably be stealing each other's mail.”

— George Cothran

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