Random Access – 3 Mayors Discuss Affordable Housing and Traffic Concerns

Video and comments By Sunnyvale City Council Member, Michael S. Goldman

A 15 minute round-table with: Mayor Lynette Lee Eng of Los Altos, Mayor Eric Filseth of Palo Alto, and Mayor Steven Scharf of Cupertino.

“City bankruptcies, deteriorating public services as funds are drained from cities trying to cope with increased demands by new construction. That will be CASA’s main impacts. See a transcript on Michael’s site: https://meetingthetwain.blogspot.com/2019/03/three-mayors-on-silicon-valley-housing.html

Thanks to these Mayors for their frank discussion on what many consider to be overlooked considerations that were not addressed adequately by the SF Bay Area regional planners who concocted the CASA Compact. Forcing more up-zoning on landfill that is sinking under the tall towers already built, is a losing proposition. How many people want to throw more money at the Joint Powers Authority that designed and built the closed, failing Transbay Terminal?

The small town in the city: Why people leave the urban heart of SF for the Sunset

By Michelle Robertson : sfgate – excerpt

“The last place I thought I’d ever live was the Sunset,” said Carol Lipof. “It was just so, so far out there.”

In August, Lipof moved to the Sunset.

“We’re very, very, very happy. Happier than we could have imagined.”

The Sunset District has long been considered the suburban outskirt of San Francisco. It’s where the surfers and the families live, where few Muni lines run, where one goes to “retire” from the bustle of urban San Francisco.

But the neighborhood, like so much of San Francisco, is changing. Long home to the city’s largest Asian American community, suburbia in the Sunset appears to be giving way to the urban chic stroller set – identifiable by their wide-legged sailor pants, organic cotton tops and well-dressed babies — and young artists, many of whom have found a refuge of quiet, open space and community-minded businesses in one of the city’s last affordable outposts.

“I feel like I moved to a new city,” said Lipof…

Then there’s the matter of the garage.

“That was a game changer for me,” she said. “I’ve lived in the city for almost 15 years, and I can’t tell you how many parking tickets I’ve had.” The garage, and its miraculous automatic door opener, “feels like the greatest luxury of my life.”… (more)

We hope the newcomers to the Sunset are aware of the efforts being made in Sacramento to turn their new touch of suburbia into the bustling , crowded cramped neighborhood they just escaped. If Senator Wiener is successful, they will soon find their little bit of beachfront disappearing behind a towering shadow, and their garage turning into an ADU.

Should they attempt to add a unit for their growing family, they may find they are sued unless they build to the max in their own backyard. Watch SB 50, SB 330, and AB 1515 carefully and be sure to vote for the state representative that protects your rights to live the way your lifestyle you way.

Why SF Restaurants Are Suffocating

By Azhar Hashem : thebolditalic – excerpt

What I witnessed during my two years in the industry

One Saturday in December of last year, six months before we closed our beloved restaurant, Tawla, we said goodbye to our lead line cook — one of the last three people left from our original 25-person team when we opened in the Mission two years prior….

I quickly learned that no matter the amount of knowledge or preparation, you can’t fight the desperate realities of San Francisco’s restaurant market today.

This has become almost a cliche story in San Francisco’s food industry. When I set out to open a restaurant in the city in 2016, I intended to successfully employ what I had learned from an MBA and more than a decade of launching and managing successful businesses for Google and other tech companies. But I quickly learned that no matter the amount of knowledge or preparation, you can’t fight the desperate realities of San Francisco’s restaurant market today…(more)

As many of us have discovered who were former fans, the quality of food and service has gone down hill. This is a well-documented explanation of what is wrong with the restaurant industry in San Francisco. Some choice points made by the author that we have been observing for some time:

  • Astronomical turnover pushes labor costs even higher and Turnovers are expensive. Workers have little incentive to work and quality of work is down due to the stress on the workers being priced out of the city…
  • What was once a celebrated culinary city boasting creativity and innovation is no longer so creative or innovative. The constant turnover makes it too hard to train new staff so everyone has the same menu…
  • When it comes down to it, diners today don’t care. Really. The discerning diners have left the city alone with the good cooks. The have been replaced by new fast-paced customer with no..
  • Today’s San Francisco pretends to be a liberal city, but when it comes to having a real impact on people who work in small businesses, the majority are not willing to put their money where their mouth is. Today’s SF is in love with the idea of “local,” “small business” and “economic diversity.” But few are doing the work to support those ideas…

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, employing more than half of our workforce, then what impact do these challenges have on the labor economy and this city that we love, economically and culturally, as we move into the future?

I was asked recently, “If you could do it all over again, would you?” Given the circumstances, where the core principles behind what I had hoped to accomplish are in question, I don’t know if this would have been an endeavor I could comfortably and confidently pursue again — at least in San Francisco…. (more)

I recently heard from a friend who is a fan of New York and other sophisticated “world-class” cities that San Francisco claims to emulate. She is disappointed with the loss of the culture and the diversity she expected more of, not less, as San Francisco rushes into a new era of international fame and fortune. Some of us see the writing on the wall before others, but we are all condemned to deal with the future that is barrelling down on us.

Please share this article at the source with your discerning friends and any politicians you know who may care enough to turn this food desert around. Otherwise, book some time in many of the new restaurants springing up in the suburbs that the cooks are moving into. Better do it fast, as the Governor plans to sue the communities fighting gentrifying density. You may soon be forced to leave the state for a tasty meal if Senator Wiener’s SB 50 becomes law.

I am going to say that the lack of imagination and experimentation is also a product of a society that values money and wealth over quality and competence. There is no room to grow or improve in a cultural and spiritual vacuum.

 

 

 

How to not build in San Francisco: Maximus and the so-called ‘Monster in the Mission’

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

After several aggravating years and little progress, the aspirational developers of the so-called Monster in the Mission may be putting the ball in your court, city voters.

Late last year, after many moons of strife and harsh invective and dueling rallies and community mobilizations, a major development was erected on the 16th Street BART Plaza.

And there was much rejoicing. For it was a ping-pong table.

People do play. But it’s been raining something fierce of late. Perhaps a few men or women could take shelter beneath this sturdy table. This city is, after all, so lacking in places to stay.

Maximus Real Estate Partners — Rob Rosania, founder and “lead visionary” — would like to build housing on the plaza, an errant smash away from the ping pong table. Quite a lot of housing. But, after dropping some $42 million for this land, and investing years — and plenty more money — wrangling with any and all comers, the 1979 Mission St. project remains an ethereal watercolor… (more)

San Francisco RE-ZONED!

SB 50 explained.

The good folks in Sacramento are back at it. They propose replacing our Planning Dept. by virtually eliminating local zoning!

SB 50 would allow buildings up to 8 or 9 stories, anywhere in SF! And virtually no backyard requirement, as well. It’s the return of SB 827 & 828. And developers can then add on the state density bonus for more height and less affordable inclusionary housing.

Yes, there is a housing & jobs crisis. Do you think Sacramento will fix the housing problem by legislation that frees developers without providing money for affordable housing and transportation?

And what about the CASA program and proposed massive regional enterprise?
Speakers Michael Barnes, economist, CASA critic, Albany city council member, and Ozzie Rohm, local housing advocate, will answer your questions and discuss what can be done.

Thursday, Feb 14, 7 to 9 pm
1833 Page Street/Cole Park Branch Library
Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council
Panel to Discuss CASA and SB 50
There will be a panel discussion on CASA and SB 50 at Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council this Thursday, Feb 14th starting at 7:00 pm.  Thanks to Tes, I’ve been asked to be on this panel. I will be sharing this with a knowledgeable activist from the East Bay, Michael Barnes.  He will cover CASA while I’ll go over SB 50.  The meeting is open to public.

Tuesday, Feb 19, 6:45 to 7:30 pm
1125 Fillmore Street Northern Police Station
Panel to Discuss CASA and SB 50
There will also be a panel discussion on the same topic at the next CSFN monthly meeting on Feb 19 starting from 6:45 pm.  The CSFN panel will be hosting Dennis Richards, Rick Hall, and Carlos Bocanegra from La Raza.  This meeting is also open to public… (more)

Slow approval process not only obstacle for city housing goals

By Laura Waxman : sfexaminer – excerpt

Plans for close to 45,000 potential homes are currently approved in San Francisco — the highest number tracked by The City’s Planning Department to date — but many of these projects have yet to break ground.

In an effort to speed up the development of affordable housing, last month Mayor London Breed announced that she plans to introduce a charter amendment for the November ballot that would take away the ability of residents to appeal affordable and teacher housing projects, though details remain unclear.

“No more bureaucracy. No more costly appeals. No more not in my neighborhood. It’s simple: Affordable housing as-of-right because housing affordability is a right,” said Breed.

But public disapproval and The City’s slow approval processes aren’t the only roadblocks to the construction of residential units in San Francisco. While land use entitlements — or approvals of a development plan — in theory should allow developers to proceed to financing and construction, for-profit projects can sometimes languish for years in the post-entitlement phase.

Constraints on financing and a growing trend of flipping entitlements are significant causes for delays, with some sponsors never intending to build. And many approved units are tied up in large, complex projects with slow, phased buildouts that can stretch over decades…(more)

This is a good article that covers some of the most obvious reasons for delays in building, Flipping empty properties is more lucrative than building, and combination of rising costs of financing, labor and and materials costs, has resulted in a slowdown in home sales, forcing more people onto the rental market.

The author fails to mention the shortage of labor that City Hall is largely responsible for. Construction contractors used to fill the PDR and light industrial buildings that were torn down to make room for high paid tech. Those displaced workers are not commuting to work in a city, where traffic and parking are a nightmare when they have plenty to do in their new homes outside the city.

Neighbors, activists vent about planned development at 16th, Mission streets

By J. K. Dineen : sfchronicle – excerpt (includes video)

Opponents of the proposed development at 16th and Mission streets delivered a blistering message to the San Francisco Planning Commission on Thursday night at Mission High School. Speaker after speaker ripped the project as a luxury complex that would worsen the displacement and gentrification that have become as synonymous with the neighborhood as burritos and murals… (more)

Planning Commissioners will continue to review the two alternatives. Maximus has threatened to bring the project to the voters if they do not get their plan approved.