Whatever became of Berkeley’s neighborhood-serving retail?

Editorial by Becky o’Malley : berkeleyplanet – excerpt

Having lived in university towns for all of my adult life, I am very conscious of the difference in atmosphere when most of the students go home for summer vacation. One obvious benefit is that parking becomes infinitely easier. Yes, yes, I know that we’re not supposed to be driving, even those of us who are over 75 and a bit arthritic. Yes, I know that students never drive any more—well,hardly ever. It must be just a coincidence that many, many cars disappear from Berkeley streets in the summer—surely it’s not because the students are gone…

It will take more than inspiration to overcome what’s going wrong with small businesses in downtown Berkeley. They are getting evicted to make room for developments aimed at BART commuters to San Francisco, who will most likely do most of their purchasing in The City, and by UC offices for employees who drive in from distant suburbs with big box stores.

University Hardware, a stalwart for many years, was pushed or jumped from its wonderful location on University, complete with parking lot, to a dark and dreary car-free location on a side street. Now to add insult to injury the new store has lost access even for customers’ curbside pick-ups of large purchases to the city’s poorly conceptualized new bicycle routing.

There’s a host of similar examples of local businesses done wrong which give the lie to the perpetual myth of a Downtown Berkeley renaissance. Among other things, it’s past time to re-think Berkeley’s downtown area plan, which was jammed through by the previous city administration for the exclusive benefit of developers of mega apartment blocks for well-off consumers who’ll make their purchases elsewhere. A new and better plan would give much more respect to neighborhood-serving businesses and much less latitude to the smash-and-grab crowd who covet our downtown as potential building sites for commuter condos.

And don’t get me started on the way the University of California is sucking up downtown Berkeley as lebensraum for offices which don’t even pay property taxes. That’s a rant all its own, for another day… (more)

This story is repeating itself in communities all over California. The Berkeley story of disappearing local businesses is being exported to Napa County where the housing industry is getting ready to push the wineries out. What will tourists come for once the beautiful views, local wines and food are replaced by housing enclaves? What will people do with their time when the jobs are replaced by robots?

Advertisements

Emergency Resolution needed to preserve San Francisco businesses

Op-Ed

Here is an idea. SF has carved out hundreds of miles of car-free lanes for bikes and pedestrian-safe zones with no regard to the losses of the businesses that are effected by loss of traffic and parking. The streetscape programs have resulted in huge numbers of business closures and what appears to be an average 30% drop in income of the businesses that survive. No one is talking about the loss of jobs or the flight of the families those jobs once supported.

Why don’t we support the rights of businesses that require traffic and parking by setting up a SFMTA-free enterprise zone, that protects businesses that rely on customers who drive. We need a parking-protected zone to protect businesses while their streets are under construction.

We have see the future as it is being written by Plan Bay Area 2040 and they are anticipating a loss of 40% of the middle class by 2030 or 2040, depending on which report you read. As they extend the debt they extend the time to pay it off and the year of the study changes to meet that goal

Perhaps the Supervisors could legislate a temporary protected zone for businesses to escape from the SFMTA while their streets are under siege with protected loading and parking zones for motor vehicles only. We could use one in China Town and pretty much every neighborhood, The Supervisors can treat it as an emergency resolution to save middle class families by saving the small businesses and jobs they depend on them that are being killed off by the over-zealous SFMTA and developers.

We understand there is a history of placing limitations on disruptive construction projects in one area to protect residents and businesses from the negative impacts of too much construction in one place. Perhaps it is time to revisit that limit. Why not finish the major street projects now underway before starting any new ones.

Perhaps it is time for the Board of Supervisors to devise some method for curtailing city agencies and reigning them. There is ample evidence that the departments are not working well together or communicating changes to large projects as they rush to get them underway.

Perhaps we need new procedural rules to protect our citizens like the CEQA administrative amendments that were enacted to help developers a few years ago. Others are suggesting some Charter amendments may be in order. That will take time. We need some faster protections and we need them now to stop the damage to is being done to our city in the name of future plans.

This was inspired by story on ABC7 News on the plight of Chinatown businesses:

Chinatown merchants say Central Subway construction leading to business bust

by Leslie Brinkley : ABC7news – excerpt (includes video)

Up to 2 million visitors stroll through Chinatown per year. Locals hit the markets in the area too, but lately business is down…. (more)

These stories all have one thing in common. The Future is heavily featured as the reason for the disruption we are living in today. Always the promise of a better tomorrow and know consideration of what is being done to make our lives better today. How can you trust a system that doesn’t function today to make tomorrow better? Let us see some proof. Fix it now.

 

OPINION: Some SF ballot measures Donald Trump would love

This November, the nation will face the possibility of electing a ruthless real estate developer whose rhetoric is filled with reactionary outbursts, misogyny, racism, and xenophobia…

Today, four more bad-smelling policies that would make Trump proud are before local voters. In these measures, we face similar attacks against those who are different, who are more vulnerable, and who are poor and working class. And we are also given false solutions that promise to provide more for some by taking away from others.

Props Q and R –criminalizing poverty

Propositions Q and R take the heart of Donald’s hate-filled rhetoric and try to implement it in San Francisco. The mean-spirited Prop Q would confiscate people’s tents. Even its name, “Housing Not Tents,” reeks of deception, as it would provide not a single penny for housing nor require housing for anyone forcibly removed from an encampment, offering only the measly single night in a shelter. San Francisco-style fear mongering is much slicker, but no less obvious…

Props P and U – developer giveaways that divide San Franciscans

Following a similar pattern of divisiveness, Propositions P and U come directly from the SF Realtor’s Association, with a war chest of more than a million dollars paid for by the state and national Realtor’s associations. They are developer and real estate giveaways that Donald would love, and will hurt everyday San Franciscans…

You gotta give ‘em hope, said Harvey…

While we must fight back against those attacks that seek to divide San Franciscans and promote hate and fear, we must also redouble our efforts towards the only solution to the housing crisis: preserve and produce real affordable housing…

  • Prop C, the Housing Preservation Bond, which will provide loans to make safety upgrades to apartments and preserve them for all existing tenants, low-income and middle-income, as permanently affordable housing.
  • Props J & K, a 1/2 cent increase to the sales tax (still below many Bay Area cities) and set-aside to dedicate funding for homeless housing and services and equitable transportation improvements.
  • Prop M, the Sunshine for Housing ordinance, which creates transparency and public oversight for the city’s housing and development decisions.
  • Prop S, which will reinstate hotel tax allocations for cultural arts funding and funds for ending family homelessness.

This November is a chance to prove that San Francisco is still a City for All, no matter what the national mood. Say no to Trumpifying San Francisco, and vote NO on Props P, Q, R, and U… (more)

The amount of money that has gone into soliciting votes through lies and innuendo is staggering. but, most of us decided a long time ago who we trust and that trust does not waver. A small segment of the public may still be staring down the middle trying to figure it out, but we don’t wake up each morning waiting for the next news story to drop. Let’s just plow our way through this mess and make sure we stay on course and carry the June wins through to November 8.

The real battle will start after the election as we try to continue on the course we have been on that will involve hours more time and effort to take back our city from the forces that have been removing our rights and liberties and forcing us to fork out millions of dollars under false pretenses.

The the SFMTA Board that has prioritized experiments with our roads while ignoring the pleas of our most vulnerable citizens, needs to be replaced. But, don’t take my word for it. Listen to the voices of the people who are suffering from those misplaced priorities: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kpn4dCBEJyU Watch the video. Like it and share it with your friends and asosciates who may not be aware of what the SFMTA is planning.  Then go to redcaprtmess.org and sign the petition to stop the removal of bus stops.

Warriors virtual tour of their proposed stadium

sanfrancisco.cbslocal – excerpt (virtual model)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The Golden State Warriors  have released the first animated video of their planned San Francisco Mission Bay arena which the team hopes to move into within three years.

The video, unveiled at the Dreamforce Conference in San Francisco Tuesday, takes a wide, aerial view of the arena, zooming in on the stadium entrance, past dining areas and plazas before entering the 18,000 seat, glass-enclosed arena with a 360 degree view.

The privately-funded $1 billion project will not only be a venue for basketball, but will also include retail space, an office tower and a waterfront park in addition to hosting a range of special events and concerts throughout the year… (more)

New UCSF research facility navigating red tape

By sfexaminer – excerpt (map)

Two decades in the making, a new $160 million UC San Francisco research facility at San Francisco General Hospital is closer to reality than ever before.

The long-proposed five-story facility, to be constructed at the existing B-C parking lot at the southeast corner of the hospital campus near 23rd and Vermont streets, will be home to about 200 UCSF physician-scientists and some 800 employees working under them.

Members of the Health Commission on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution endorsing a nonbinding agreement between The City and the UC system regents to lease the lot space. Base rent will be $180,000 annually for 75 years, with a 24-year option to extend.

Following an environmental review, the final ground lease would go before the Board of Supervisors around June 2016, with construction projected to begin sometime in 2017 for a grand opening in late 2019.

On that land, UCSF would build its facility, with the $160 million already factored into its budget, at no cost to The City. The plan was tossed around for 20 years but negotiated in its current form for the past couple years.

“It’s been a challenge, but it has been done,” said Sue Carlisle, vice dean of UCSF’s School of Medicine at the hospital…

Though there were initial concerns from patients and neighbors about parking loss, no objections have been voiced lately, said Rachael Kagan, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Health, which operates the hospital.

The department has formed a working group with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to look at traffic management and explore the possibility of building out the hospital parking garage, which currently occupies only two-thirds of its allotted area. That proposal is expected to go before the transit agency board in September.

“We really appreciate the support of neighbors who understand the importance of the research but understand potential parking issues and are doing everything we can to address that,” Kagan said… (more)

No recent objections! The residents have been kept completely in the dark about the plans. For months no one returned requests for an update. That is why there have been no objections. To add insult to injury, the plan for SF General was announced at the Mission Bay CAC, nowhere near the site, and the nearby residents were not invited to that meeting. They were completely blindsided.

Now they know and this is a CHALLENGE TO OBJECT!!

Not only is the SFMTA adding more parking challenges to the neighborhood, they are cutting direct service to General by cutting the 33 Line off at 16th Street, forcing site and weak patients to transfer at 16th and Potrero.

This the best example so far of how much disdain the SFMTA has for the public that depends on them for transportation and why the public should demand for an elected board that represents them.

September 4 Polk Street/Van Ness Neighborhood Meeting

FOLLOW UP:
Tuesday, September 10, 2013, 11AM
SF County Transportation Authority
City Hall, Room 250 – agenda
Commissioners: Avalos (Chair), Wiener (Vice Chair), Breed, Campos, Chiu, Cohen, Farrell, Kim, Mar, Tang and Yee
item 3 Certify the EIR on Van Ness BRT. Hire Executive Director
http://www.sfcta.org/san-francisco-county-transportation-authority-september-10-2013Van Ness

VAN NESS AVENUE BUS RAPID TRANSIT: Polk Street Stakeholders: As part of on-going coordination between the Polk Street Improvement Project and the Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit Project, we wanted to bring to your attention this upcoming Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit public meeting.

Project Update: The Van Ness BRT Project is designed to improve transit on San Francisco’s major North-South corridor. The project will also provide pedestrian safety enhancements and modernization of the water and sewer lines.

Please join us! Wednesday, September 4,  (6:30-7:30 p.m.)
Old First Church Fellowship Hall, 1751 Sacramento Street (between Van Ness & Polk)

Hosted by the Middle Polk Neighborhood Association and Save Polk Street,
a presentation will be provided by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA).

For more information on this project, visit: http://www.sfmta.com/vannessbrt or contact Peter Gabancho, Project Manager, peter.gabancho@sfmta.com
You are receiving this notice as a member of the email list for the Polk Street Improvement Project.
If you have any questions, please contact me at peter.gabancho@sfmta.com