Pandemic casts a shadow on future of San Francisco’s would-be high-rise Hub

By John King : sfchronicle – excerpt (includes audio track and map)

Uncertainty has always clouded the urbane visions of an emerging high-rise residential district at Market Street and Van Ness Avenue, so it seems weirdly appropriate that the plan has now been approved in the midst of a global pandemic.

That’s what San Francisco’s Planning Commission did last week — clearing the way for a cluster of apartment and condominium towers that on paper has the potential to be a dynamic crossroads. A place where downtown workers live above bustling pedestrian-filled sidewalks and plazas.

It’s also the type of idealized 21st century setting thrown into doubt by the pervasive impact of the coronavirus on everything from the global economy to how we behave in public — if we choose to venture out at all…

Some commissioners questioned whether the plan takes sufficient note of how the coronavirus might alter urban life. Will Muni be able to handle an influx of new passengers at a key transit crossroads if buses and trains can’t handle as many people? Will extra shadows on existing parks erode the quality of outdoor spaces should strict shelter-in-place requirements be imposed in response to viruses yet unknown?…(more)

On the audio track, SF Controller Ben Rosenfield describes the future potential economic downturn he anticipates and the effects it may have on the city for a years. His concerns raise more questions about the wisdom of approving any large projects at this time of future uncertainty. Voters in November may want to request the candidates weigh in on how they intend to support or deny these kinds of projects before deciding who to support.

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.

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?

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)

In 2018, San Francisco made choices. In 2019, we’ll deal with them.

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

It’s difficult to come up with a valediction for 2018, an overstuffed year that was to San Francisco political developments what Buca di Beppo is to portion size and sensible interior decor.

n short, there was so much loaded onto our plates that, by the time we were halfway through with one course, we’d forgotten what came only just before. There was just too much to get through; it left us all feeling a bit sick…

We made our decisions. In the coming year, for good or ill, we will live with them…

The board of supervisors likely hasn’t had this much potential leverage and power since 2001, following a progressive sweep of Mayor Willie Brown’s handpicked slate. It remains to be seen how this board will govern and what issues our legislators will take up, but this much seems clear — a majority of them owe Mayor Breed nothing…(more)

Mission Joins Citywide Allies for Two Days of Transit Justice Actions

missionwordsf – excerpt

Supervisor hearing calls on SFMTA to keep red bus lanes for public buses, paratransit, and taxis; Community demands SFMTA board adopt transit justice first policy.

Residents from the Mission, SoMa, Richmond, and other San Francisco neighborhoods converged on City Hall for two days of actions December 3rd-4th, demanding the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA) end the corporate use of the red bus lanes, improve access and service to buses, and commit to community planning and other equity processes to keep the Mission and other vulnerable communities safe.

On Monday, December 3rd, approximately 50 residents joined a special hearing item called by Supervisors Fewer and Ronen at the Board of Supervisors’ Land Use Committee. The meeting called SFMTA officials out to the meeting to answer concerns regarding the private use of these lanes…

Fewer closed the hearing by calling on the SFMTA to commit to working with her office towards removing the private buses and shuttles from the red lanes. The SFMTA officials agreed to Fewer’s request…

The following Tuesday afternoon of December 4th, citywide advocates rose from their seats at the SFMTA’s semi-monthly board meeting as Carlos Bocanegra of United to Save the Mission delivered the transit justice first demands from a coalition of advocates from the Mission, SoMa, Excelsior, and Richmond districts…

The community is suffering and the merchants are suffering,” Edwan said. “We are losing customers and we are losing our businesses due to the red lanes.”

In a 2018 survey by the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) of more than 100 Mission Street businesses, 39.5% of the merchants surveyed said they have concerns about the impacts the red lanes are having on their businesses…. (more)

We have some ideas on how to solve a few of the problems that we will be sharing soon. Some of them involve a few changes in Sacramento. Stay tuned.

Let’s not forget the switchbacks on Third Street that are cutting off rides to people in the Bay View and Hunter’s Point and other points south along the T-Line. This is also a classic case of transit injustice.

Number one complaint about the SFMA is “They never listen to the anyone or do anything people ask them to do.” This needs to change.

Boycott Lyft, Protest Twitter

By David Talbot : 48hills – excerpt

330px-Lyft_logo.svg

Lyft’s decision to contribute $100,000 to fight Proposition C, San Francisco’s urgent measure to help the homeless, is morally reprehensible — and must now hurt the ride-sharing company’s bottom line.

I’m calling on all San Franciscans — indeed all decent Americans — to boycott Lyft. Not even Uber, with all its corporate baggage, has taken a stand like this against SF’s thousands of suffering men, women, and children on the streets.

This is a morally defining moment for the people of San Francisco — and for the global tech companies headquartered here. As Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff — who, to his great credit, has thrown his corporate weight and money behind Prop. C — has said, “It’s binary — either you’re for the homeless or you’re not. I’m for the homeless.”

But Lyft’s billionaire executives object to the tiny tax that will be levied on big corporations to help pay for homeless programs. The company’s anti-Prop. C arguments, which mirror those of the Chamber of Commerce, have no merit, as the City Controller’s office recently reported. Prop. C will have virtually no negative impact on business or jobs, but will indeed help reduce homelessness, declared the City Controller… (more)

Boycott Lyft and their subsidiaries like GoBike. Look them up on wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyft Their services are listed: as Real-time ridesharing, Taxicab, Vehicle for hire. Somebody better inform Lyft that taxicabs that didn’t pay $250K for their medallions are not allowed to pick up rides from the airport.

MTA Allows Overnight RV Parking in SF Outer Mission

By Phil Matier : KPIX5 – excerpt (includes video)

It was a victory for RV dwellers in one San Francisco neighborhood but it’s not sitting well for nearby homeowners. Phil Matier reports… (more)

San Francisco ranks No. 1 in US in property crime

: sfchronicle – excerpt

It’s official: Your backpack, laptop, tablet or phone — or the vehicle in which you left all these things behind — are more likely to catch the fancy of a thief in San Francisco than any other major metropolis in the country.

FBI data released last week show the city had the highest per-capita rate of property crimes among the 20 most populous U.S. cities in 2017, tallying 6,168 crimes per 100,000 people. That’s about 148 burglaries, larcenies, car thefts and arsons per day.

San Francisco’s property crimes spiked from the previous year, shooting up from about 47,000 in 2016 to 54,000 in 2017.

Los Altos, Danville and Los Gatos had the three lowest rates of violent crime among California’s 245 cities with a population of at least 30,000 people. Each reported zero murders and fewer than 20 rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults for all of 2017… (more)

Looks like we are not imagining it. San Francisco is not only one of the worst major traffic nightmares in the country, but it now can claim to be the property crime capital as well. Lose those famous views and what do we have left to offer tourists other than a peak into their future if they follow our leads? What next? Ask the candidates running for office how they plan to fix the problem. And offer suggestions to the Mayor and our Supervisors. Contacts

Maybe we should quit complaining about how Los Altos, Danville and Los Gatos  conduct their business and consider emulating what they are doing right?