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?

Potrero Bus Yard Project meetings turn up many suggestions, little consensus

By Gisela Pérez de Acha and Julian Mark : missionlocal – excerpt

After four public meetings on a development project that could add nearly 1,000 new units atop the Potrero Bus Yard, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will review the comments from the 100 or so people who attended the gatherings and try “to figure out consistency and trends, if they exist,” said Licina Iberri, one of the planning managers.

The project, now in the planning stages, seeks to not only upgrade the 100-year old bus and Muni transportation facility but to add as many as 900 new units – at least 25 percent affordable – as well as add ground floor retail space. The market rate housing would help finance the project(more)

Projects like these, that are opposed by the public, are forcing many people to leave San Francisco and the state. New figures on population exits from Silicon Valley are showing zero population growth. We don’t need more houses in the pipeline when there are already over 40,000 NOT being built. SFMTA staff is supposed to run the Muni not build future housing for non-existent residents.

If SFMTA staff managing the Muni system they would not have time to develop 1,000 market rate units and they would not need the money to support the Muni system if they quit tearing up the streets.

SFMTA staff who do not want to manage the Muni system, but prefer to design the future are in the wrong business. Voters should loudly oppose all future development projects that are built to hold investor dollars and add to the cost of living in this city for everyone who is stuck here. Quit treating San Francisco residents like cattle to be moved about in crowded containers. No wonder ridership is going down. and people are leaving.

The department that can’t keep the trains running on time now due to major switching problems can’t wait to put in more switches. The department that can’t provide a safe ride on the monster buses wants to hire security guards for bigger buses, instead of hiring more drivers to for smaller buses that hold fewer riders, with comfortable seats for everyone. Where is the humanity at SFMTA?

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)

The Sierra Club and the luxury-housing developer

By Zelda Bronstein : 48hills – excerpt

Northern Alameda chapter backs San Leandro project in a sign that the pro-growth forces are trying to take over the environmental group.

Are you a Sierra Club member who lives in Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville, Alameda, Piedmont or San Leandro? If so, you fall under the aegis of the club’s Northern Alameda County Group, which is nested within the larger Bay Chapter.

Be aware, then, that the NAC Executive Committee is currently dominated by a pro-growth coterie that’s exploiting the Sierra Club’s cachet to push a pro-development agenda that violates the club’s commitments to affordable housing, neighborhood integrity, and democratic governance.

If you’re a Sierra Club member who lives elsewhere in the Bay Area, you should also be concerned. The growth boosters on the NAC Ex Com include two men who wield considerable influence in the Bay Chapter, Igor Tregub and Andy Katz. Tregub also chairs the chapter Executive Committee. Both he and Katz sit on the Bay Chapter’s Political Committee, which makes the Sierra Club’s endorsements of political candidates and ballot measures. In the Bay Area, where the club claims nearly 60,000 members, and environmental values are widely embraced, Sierra Club endorsements carry a lot of weight. (UPDATE: Tregub tells me he has stepped down from the Political Committee, which only makes advisory recommendations on endorsements.)

This is an alarming trend for the club; already in San Francisco, Yimbys have tried to take over the local chapter (and so far failed). But the pro-development forces know that placing people on the boards of all-volunteer organizations is not that difficult. There’s little doubt that “smart growth” advocates are trying to shift the influential Sierra Club in their direction, locally and nationally(more)

Supervisor Yee—Step up to the Plate!

by Patrick Monette-Shaw : westsideobserver – excerpt

Must Prioritize Full Spectrum Health Services

Congratulations to D7 Supervisor Norman Yee on being elected president of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors!

However, now, Yee needs to pivot quickly to working collaboratively with Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Ahsha Safai, the San Francisco Public Health Department, and other City leaders to address comprehensive solutions to the full spectrum of facilities that all have severe shortages of in-county capacity to serve disabled and elderly San Franciscans, many of whom have been discharged out-of-county.

Turf Fight Erupts

In its December 2017 issue, the Westside Observer newspaper published an article reporting that a tug-of-war had erupted between members of the Board of Supervisors over the severe shortage of skilled nursing facilities (SNF) throughout San Francisco…. (more)

… omissions and shortsightedness in collecting data affects developing public policy. The problem? Missing data. No data is asked for, none collected. The City doesn’t ask for data. No questions, no data.

Takeaways From a Wide-Ranging State of the State

By Jill Cowen : nytimes – excerpt

When Gov. Gavin Newsom began his first State of the State address yesterday, political observers expected him to attack the Trump administration…

But instead, one of the most powerful politicians in the country quickly moved on from President Trump and took aim at the legacy of a fellow Democrat: Mr. Newsom’s predecessor, Jerry Brown.

“He dispatched Trump and Jerry Brown in very different ways,” said Raphael Sonenshein, the executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles. “In Trump’s case, he dismissed him.”.

Mr. Newsom covered a lot of ground in his 43-minute address, from the graying of California to immigration to the blockchain.

So my colleague, Jennifer Medina, and I broke down some key takeaways. (We’ll explore more questions in future newsletters; the state is vast and complicated, after all.)… (more)

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Link to Governor Newsom’s State of the State address: