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    Supporting Mayor Breed’s Highly Qualified Nominee for Highly Specialized Commission Seat

    By Sophia Andary, Louise Fischer, Lisa Williams, and Cyn Wang–

    As diverse colleagues who work individually, and collaboratively for representation, diversity, and inclusion, we support Mayor London Breed’s nomination of architectural historian Christina Dikas to the Historic Preservation Commission. 

    Dikas is exceptionally qualified for the job, a standout nominee as a woman in a traditionally straight white male-dominated field of architectural historians. 

    The Commission advises the City on historic preservation matters, approves Certificates of Appropriateness for landmarks or for resources located in historic districts. Each seat on the Commission is highly specialized. The seat Dikas would fill must be held by an architectural historian. This particular seat was previously long held by one of two gay men on the Commission, neither of whom will be reappointed by the Mayor. 

    Prior to Dika’s nomination, the seven-member Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) consisted of four men and three women. This year, with two pending re-appointments to the Historic Preservation Commission, the Mayor chose to nominate two women to fill those seats. This will be the first, if not rare, occasion this Commission will be majority women. Mayor Breed’s recent nomination of Ruchira Nageswaran received unanimous approval by the Board of Supervisors. Dikas is her second nomination. 

    It is understandable that with exception of one at large seat, six seats of the HPC require specialized training, credentials, and experience in real estate, architecture, and architectural history. However, as these occupations and pursuits have been historically and are still dominated by straight white men, women and diverse groups have been consequently, if not systemically, excluded. 

    The fact remains that the field of professional, trained architectural historians is remarkably and notably limited. Traditionally dominated by straight white men, locating LGBTQ, women, and/or people of color within the field proves highly challenging. 

    It is also understandable that there is keen interest in maintaining longtime LGBTQ representation on this Commission. As LGBTQ identified women, we, too, have highly valued LGBTQ representation. 

    In consideration of the value of this long-standing representation on the Commission, before selecting Dikas, the Mayor’s office did a comprehensive search for qualified LGBTQ identified San Francisco residents to nominate who meet the specialized qualifications as an architectural historian, including securing recommendations from industry professionals and colleagues. 

    In fact, Dikas’ colleague, a gay man, was initially approached to either fill or recommend a candidate for the Commission post. However, he did not fully meet the qualifications, and instead recommended Dikas, who meets, if not exceeds, the requirements of the appointment.  

    Dikas is an associate principal and senior architectural historian in San Francisco, and is from the Bay Area. She holds a Master of Architectural History with a Certificate of Historic Preservation from the University of Virginia and has extensive experience in the field of historic preservation. She has conducted numerous historic resource surveys and has extensive experience preparing Historic Resource Evalu­ations, CEQA and Section 106 Technical Reports, Historic Context Statements, Preservation Design Guidelines, and other preservation planning services. Dikas has also been a volunteer for the California Preservation Foundation for a number of years.

    We all believe that LGBTQ representation is important, and we will always continue to advocate for queer representation in government, politics, business, education—everywhere. 

    Mayor Breed has always supported the LGBTQ community and has appointed more LGBTQ Commissioners than any other Mayor and continues to fund a myriad of LGBTQ initiatives. The Mayor has also appointed members of the LGBTQ community to head some of the City’s most powerful agencies including Jeff Tumlin, Director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency; Carol Isen, nominated to lead San Francisco’s Department of Human Resources; Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson; and the Director of Housing and Community Development, Eric Shaw. 

    Following extensive outreach to locate a qualified LGBTQ identified candidate for this specialized seat, Dikas might have become Mayor Breed’s second nominee for the two open seats. However, it is clear that she is a top-notch choice to serve as an architectural historian. We are proud to support her nomination. 

    Sophia Andary is a Commissioner on the Commission on the Status of Women. “San Francisco Bay Times” columnist Louise Fischer is a Program and Project Supervisor at the California Public Utilities Commission. Lisa Williams is a consultant who is the Community Advisory Board Coordinator for SF Pride. Cyn Wang is a Commissioner on the Entertainment Commission in San Francisco.

    Published on April 8, 2021