Ocean Avenue Nonprofit Leader Addresses Audit Findings At City Hall

The organization charged with keeping Ingleside’ stretch of Ocean Avenue litter and graffiti free is making audit-required changes.

Man at podium
Ocean Avenue Association Executive Director Christian Martin tell city officials about the nonprofit organization's compliance with recommendations from a 2023 audit. | Courtesy SFGOV

The nonprofit tasked with cleaning and beautifying Ingleside’s stretch of Ocean Avenue has completed more than half of the recommendations issued in a city audit released last year.

At the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee Thursday, staff from the Controller’s Office and Office of Economic Workforce and Development presented the audit findings for the Ocean Avenue Association.

District 7 Myrna Meglar requested the audit in 2022 after the Ingleside Merchants Association sent letters to the Government Audit and Oversight Committee expressing concerns about the organization’s management of the community benefit district.

The audit was conducted by the consultant Sjoberg Evashenk Consulting to determine if the nonprofit met the terms agreed upon with the city and if the governing body was effective in managing the community benefit district.

The audit, which did not examine OEWD’s role, found the nonprofit’s board of directors needed to govern the community benefit district more effectively and to comply with all provisions in the city agreement, including submitting mid-year and annual reports to OEWD. The audit period was from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2022.

“The report was designed to provide a roadmap to fix systemic and structural issues that the organization was facing and focused on achieving financial stability, improving program effectiveness and developing an effective management structure and board staff relationship,” said Jackie Hazelwood, OEWD’s community benefit district program director.

Twelve of 19 recommendations were completed as of last month. Hazelwood said the remaining seven open recommendations are largely pending on the receipt of the fiscal year 2022-23 annual report. Some of the recommendations that were completed included improving board governance by working with OEWD through development training and following Brown Act meeting laws.

But it's been a long road.

The association hired Executive Director Christian Martin in 2022, whom Hazelwood said “brings a wealth of experience” as Martin is also the executive director of the SOMA West community benefit district.

The nonprofit worked with OEWD to ensure meeting laws were followed. New systems and policies are in place related to bookkeeping with the hiring of a CPA firm that Hazelwood said is providing organizational structure and support for the nonprofit to come into compliance with some of the recommendations.

Hazelwood added that the nonprofit is in a good position for renewal in June 2025 as it works to complete the recommendations from the audit. The city has already provided the association with tens of thousands of dollars for implementing the renewal, which will likely include Lakeside Village.

“I think we've built a strong foundation that can support the expansion — certainly Lakeside Village, we've been cleaning that area three days a week and have a good relationship with the merchants and the owners down there,” Martin said. “I think they're excited about the prospect of joining and, I think you know, we'll accept them and any other kind of fringe areas with open arms when the expansion occurs.”

Melgar said the process of identifying improvements from the audit was focused and that there has been a “palpable difference” in the corridor.

“We still have challenges and some ways to go in our areas of growth,” Melgar said. “But you know, everything from the leadership transition and supporting the collaborative relationship with OEWD has been really outstanding.”

Martin went over recent beautification projects along Ocean Avenue, including hanging flower baskets, string lights and, soon, light pole banners. The Ocean Avenue Association now has an office at 1720 Ocean Ave. where they host board meetings and pop-up events.

The association is “establishing a presence in the corridor, including daily cleaning and maintenance operations, an ambassador program [and] bike safety patrol that lets merchants know that we're there and we're supportive,” Martin said.

“We've actually had some addition by subtraction removing some problematic board members,” Martin added.

Melgar asked Martin to address what happened last October when the association planned to host a block party on Phoenix Day. The event was abruptly canceled. Martin said after making a payment to a trusted vendor, the vendor did not provide the services they promised for the Phoenix Day event. Martin said he has been unable to track down the vendor for a $10,000 refund.

Martin said he is also working on supplementing staff with Cantonese speakers as many merchants in the corridor speak Cantonese.

“We're reaching out as we speak to supplement our current staffing with Cantonese speakers,” Martin said. “It's a process that we're working closely with the community to resolve, it's an issue that we're working on.”

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