Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Yes We Can!: Meet Bruce Huie, Dogpatch Neighborhood Activist

Bruce Huie with the gears that were used to run the old Third-Street line that preceeded the T-Line.
If you want to know the status of any development project in Dogpatch, ask Bruce Huie.  If you have an idea for something that would benefit your Dogpatch neighbors, ask Bruce Huie.  If you work for the city and see Bruce Huie at your door, do yourself a favor and just say yes to whatever he wants because in the end he will find a way to get it done.

Bruce Huie is more than just a resident of Dogpatch, he is a neighborhood activist and resource.  The man never stops thinking about how to improve the neighborhood to make it safer and more walkable.

Dogpatch has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to great restaurants and bars but we also have an ever increasing wealth of open spaces to enjoy thanks to the work of residents like Huie. 

Why do you do what you do?
To have fun and to meet people but also because I want to be a resource to my community.  I want to give back and feel like I have made a difference in this world.

I grew up in Boston and after school in D.C. where I got a degree in economics I headed to USC to pursue a masters in communications technology.  I work in demand generation -- I make sure a company's marketing programs help them accomplish their sales goals.  A friend from the Bay Area asked me to help him on a project so I moved here in 1987. 

My first neighborhood project became Progress Park.  We all have beautiful homes here and it would be easy to never leave those homes but if we do that we never have a chance to connect with each other.  A group of us that lived near the run down lot owned by Caltrain on Indiana Street between 23rd and 24th started wondering if it could become a park that would serve the neighborhood.  We approached the city about the project and of course the idea was met with resistance but every time someone said no we said, "why not?"  We tried to speak to them in terms of how it would benefit them.  The city told us it would take five years and half a million dollars to get the park done but it took us two years and $100,000.  After that we became known as the get it done folks.
Bruce Huie, Dogpatch activist and a founder of Progress Park, poses with a cow sculpture that is one of the centerpieces of the park. 
The walkway across from the Muni yard on 23rd was also an area that was in desperate need of an upgrade.  The spark to get something done happened when I saw a pregnant woman have to walk in the busy street because there wasn't a sidewalk on that side of the street.  We have now put in a walkway and beautiful plants there.  It was also the best spot for the Gears which became an art installation above the walkway.  The massive steel and wood gears were uncovered at the Millworks construction site on Indiana Street.  The gears were used as part of the transportation system to move supplies through this area in the 19th century. The gears were stored for about a year before we figured out the best spot for them. 

Another project that is just getting underway is the Dogpatch Playground project at Minnesota and 22nd Street at Woods Park.  Dogpatch is the only neighborhood in San Francisco without a playground.  And the need for one shows how much our neighborhood is changing.  One of the things I loved about this project is that when we held a fundraiser for this project at Piccino Restaurant, I didn't know 90% of the people who showed up! We break ground May 16.

It's great to have all these new open spaces for the neighborhood but they obviously require a lot of upkeep and maintenance.  That's why I'm working with a group to form a Green Benefits District for Dogpatch and Potrero Hill property owners.  If approved, property owners would pay a tax to pay for the upkeep of open spaces in our neighborhoods.  This wouldn't take the place of funds from the city but instead would enhance the baseline services that the city provides. 

I like that I get to use wo of my top strengths in all these projects -- I'm very persistent and I'm entrepreneurial. 

At the request of the mayor's office, I'm also serving on the citizen action committee which advises the city on neighborhood issues. 

Why Dogpatch?
When I first moved to San Francisco I lived in Dolores Heights and then on 10th Street.  But I was working in Palo Alto and I really wanted a place by the train station to make my commute easier.  I was outbid on a place in SOMA but then I heard that there was a place to catch the train in a neighborhood called Dogpatch.  At the time that I bought my place at 23rd and Indiana it wasn't considered Dogpatch -- 22nd Street was the outer boundary.  We called ourselves Baja Dogpatch!  We went before the Dogpatch Neighborhood Association to request that the historic district boundary be moved to Cesar Chavez and they agreed.
Dogpatch feels like the stereotypical small town.  We may have loud conversations but they are all thoughtful conversations and we respect each other.


  1. Fantastic! Thanks Bruce for all that you do.
    Thanks Patricia for posting this.
    Thanks Scott for great pics

  2. As someone who has known Bruce for years, this article speaks only the truth. Bruce is a neighbor anyone would want living in their community. Dogpatch and Potrero are very fortunate to have Bruce!

  3. Great profile, I look forward to meeting him!