Commentary

Commentary – Paul Kozakiewicz

Passing the Torch

By Paul Kozakiewicz

I have had the privilege of covering the west side of San Francisco for the past 30 years, meeting many of the great people who make this part of the City such a great place to live. Now, it is time to pass the torch to a new leader.

The Richmond Review and Sunset Beacon newspapers have been sold to Michael Durand, a friend who will continue the tradition of serving the needs of west side residents and fulfilling the community newspapers’ lofty ideals. I wish him good luck and a long run continuing to do what we have always strived to do: provide news and information to make west-side residents well-informed about the important issues that affect them; to build a sense of community among the people who live here; to provide low cost advertising for a strong business community; and to keep an eye on our elected officials and bureaucrats and to challenge them when their ideas and plans are not fully vetted.

Paul mug shot-6-14 copy

Paul Kozakiewicz, founder and former publisher of the Richmond Review and Sunset Beacon newspapers. Kozakiewicz will stay on with the papers as an editor, writer and advisor.

I’ll still be around, writing an occasional column or news story, but Michael will be running the day-to-day operations.

When my wife Sue and I started the Richmond Review in October, 1988, it was a leap of faith that we could keep the fledgling enterprise afloat. The community responded and we have been a part of the fabric of the west side ever since.

In July, 1991, we joined forces with Christopher Beaumont Rivers and the Sunset Beacon was founded. With Rivers’ determined effort, the paper was an instant success. He left the Sunset Beacon in 1997 to pursue new career options. 

But we couldn’t have done it alone.

I want to thank all of the great merchants who have supported the newspapers for the past three decades. They are the life-blood of the community, and can always be counted on to donate time and money for all types of neighborhood causes, from non-profit organizations to our schools.

Please continue to support our local merchants, which will keep our high quality of life in motion.

Numerous reporters and photographers have contributed millions of words and images that we have published documenting our changing neighborhoods. They include current contributors Thomas K. Pendergast, Jonathan Farrell, Judith Kahn, Noma Faingold, Michael Feliciano and James King as well as the hundreds more who have moved on with their careers. Regular columnists also appear to provide information and opinion about neighborhood issues, including John M. Lee, who has been writing a column about local real estate for more than 30 years. 

Philip Liborio Gangi has been the photo editor of the newspapers since the beginning. He has overseen a large group of talented photographers (in the old days in the dark room), who have provided hundreds of photos documenting our characters and history. Today, John Oppenheimer, Tyrone Bartoli and Patrick McKinnie carry on the tradition.

The newspapers are also a part of the SF Neighborhood Newspaper Association, 12 neighborhood newspapers in the City that banded together 30 years ago to meet with our elected officials, jointly publish articles of interest citywide and to provide a one-stop shop for advertisers.

Our printer, the SF Media Company, does a great job printing the newspapers and Scott’s delivery team of Aaron, Don and Eric make sure the door-to-door delivery goes smoothly. 

For kicks, I did a rough count on the amount of original content (including re-writes) that we have produced since October, 1988. 

For the Richmond Review, we have distributed more than 8 million newspapers, all of them recycled no doubt, containing  more than 4 million words. Add to that the 7 million Sunset Beacons that have been distributed in the Sunset and Parkside districts, with more than 3.5 million words, and that’s a lot of guacamole.

Currently, the newspapers are online, reaching a new audience of local readers through a website and social media.

The work of the Richmond Review and Sunset Beacon is as important as ever, with lots of important issues facing west side residents, including another attempt at the state level to up-zone city properties without regard for local zoning laws; the construction of a dedicated water source for firefighting after an emergency; the SF Municipal Transportation Agency’s (SFMTA) constant attempt to impose its will on the residents of the west side regardless of their thoughts and feelings; the SF Public Utilities Commission’s roll-out of its plan to blend water from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir with water from an underground aquifer; the conversion of the California Pacific Medical Center’s property at California Street and Palm Avenue to housing; the demolition of the University of California, San Francisco’s Laurel Hill Campus at 3333 California St. for housing and commercial space; the SFMTA’s plan to construct Geary Bus Rapid Transit down the center of Geary Boulevard (trees are coming down soon); the planned Golden Gate Park entranceway and potential “green district” for the Inner Sunset; the re-envisioning of the UCSF campus on Parnassus as many of the university’s programs transition to Mission Bay; the constant problems with Muni, including switchbacks that dump residents short of their desired destinations and the regular problems getting streetcars through the West Portal Tunnel; “managed retreat” at Ocean Beach near the SF Zoo; and, dozens of important issues in Golden Gate Park.

Many of these stories come to light with the help of local residents, too many to mention here, who care about their neighborhoods and work diligently to assure a fair and public process.

To all involved with the creation and distribution of the community newspapers, I say please keep up the good work.

Paul Kozakiewicz is an editor with the Richmond Review and Sunset Beacon newspapers.

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