State agency drops objection to city rules on waterfront development

By Kurtis Alexander : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco’s Proposition B, which gives voters a say in waterfront development, will remain in effect under a settlement announced Wednesday that ends a state lawsuit challenging the measure.

The State Lands Commission, which sued the city over the proposition — approved by voters four years ago — agreed to let the measure’s checks on high-rise buildings stand. In exchange, city officials offered to guarantee that future projects would benefit not only San Francisco but all state residents…

Newsom, a former mayor of San Francisco and now candidate for governor, was widely criticized for going to battle with the city. He maintained that, as a state officeholder, he had the responsibility to look out for the interests of all of California… (more)

Did Newsom really think suing the city would win him votes for Governor?

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First mayoral debate has no winners and too much agreement

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

None of the candidates made a case for why they are different than the others; that’s a problem when the city is in a serious crisis and so many voters are undecided

The first mayoral debate of the spring had no clear winners or losers; in fact, none of the candidates stood out as dramatically different from any of the others. That may be in part because this event was sponsored by the decidedly moderate United Democratic Club, with the decidedly conservative Chronicle Editorial Page Editor John Diaz asking all of the questions.

There’s clearly a lot of interest in the race: So many people came out on a beautiful Saturday afternoon that the Koret Auditorium at the main library filled to capacity, as didn an overflow room, and still people were turned away.

The candidates had a chance to define themselves as different in a crowded field, and I don’t think any of them did that.

Mark Leno came the closest: From the start, he said that he is convinced that “we need a new direction at City Hall” and that he would offer “a fundamental change from the status quo.”…

I give Kim and Leno credit: They were the only two who said, when asked about homelessness, that prevention is as important as responding…

Leno suggested that the city ought to sue the speculators who are abusing the Ellis Act by purchasing building after building and in each case claiming they want to go out of the business of being a landlord.

Weiss correctly pointed out that it does not good to put people in shelters or medical facilities if they are released back to the streets with no place to go. She’s a fan of Seattle-style “supportive villages.”…

They all seemed to be buying into the concept that all growth is good, and that we don’t need to control or moderate it

When it came to traffic congestion, we saw a few minor differences. Breed is not in favor of a London-style toll system that charges drivers for the right to head into congested areas; Kim and Leno said that’s an idea worth pursuing…(more)

Missed this Mayoral debate, as I attended the much more divisive Senator Wiener Town Hall. This event attracted a crowd of people from outside the city and a lot of folks from Wiener’s district 8, who oppose the housing legislation he is pushing, outlined in this article: “Scott Weiner’s War on Local Planning

All of the issues involving housing, displacement, homelessness, crime, and economic inequalities are based on the belief that “unlimited growth is good”. Where in California has dense housing resulted in a decease in displacement, homelessness, crime, or a better lifestyle for residents?

Followup: After watching the tape I see quite a bit of difference between the candidates on some of the issues I care about.
https://www.facebook.com/SFUnitedDems/videos/940340022786081

A Return to the Ballot

By Nuala Sawyer : sfweekly – excerpt

June’s local election was expected to be a quiet one — but then the mayor died, the YIMBY party drafted a ballot measure, SFPD pushed for tasers, and an eviction law was introduced that could change the future for every renter in the city…

With only a couple weeks left to file for mayor and the Feb. 3 signature deadline looming for ballot measures, our hilly city is officially in election season. Here’s a quick guide to some of what’s coming…

Leading the pack is Mark Leno, who had already announced his intention to run in 2019… He pledges to fight for “regular San Franciscans — the immigrants, tenants, homeowners, and small businesses.”…

Currently, the other candidate of note is Sup. Jane Kim. As one of the progressives on the Board of Supervisors, Kim offers a stark contrast to Sup. London Breed — should the latter decide to run. Although she’s got less political experience than Leno, as a current supervisor and candidate for the state Senate in 2016, Kim arguably has more city name recognition…

Two other women of note who signed applications so far are Angela Allioto and Amy Farah Weiss. The link to watch for updates: http://sfgov.org/elections/candidates

Potential Ballot initiatives for the June 2018 ballot:

No Eviction Without Representation Initiative: More information can be found at sfrighttocounsel.com

Muni Department Split: Supes. Aaron Peskin and Ahsha Safai are behind this measure, which would split the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency into two separate agencies. One side would handle Muni, and the other would oversee San Francisco’s parking and streets. Added on would be the ability for supervisors to appoint the Board of Directors, a right that the mayor currently holds…

YIMBY Automatic City Housing Approval: The YIMBY — Yes in My Backyard — party launched its own ballot measure this year, cheerfully titled the “Affordable and Teacher Housing Now Initiative.” More information is at prop.yimbyaction.org...

Flavored Tobacco Repeal: Sup. Malia Cohen spearheaded a ban on flavored tobacco products earlier this year, citing statistics that 80 percent of Black smokers consume menthol cigarettes…

San Francisco Arts and Family Funding: A revival of 2016’s failed Proposition S, this ballot measure would retain part of the city’s hotel tax to fund the arts — particularly the Cultural Equity Endowment, granted to artists and organizations that cater to underserved populations...

Relocation of Professional Sports Teams Initiative: this measure would give San Franciscans a voice for future relocation of professional sports teams. More information can be found at goodneighbor-coalition.org...

SFPD and Tasers: Last but not least is this controversial measure, which would bring the San Francisco Police Department’s desire for Tasers to the voters…(more)

 

 

 

 

URBAN DESIGN GUIDELINES

New Details on this most complex plan to change the process and priorities within the Planning Department concerning who is notified and when a project goes before the Planning Commission and when it is pushed through by the Planning Department without public review or notice. The final Draft of the Urban Design Guidelines can be found here:

If this concerns you, send  letter to the Planning Commissioners and Jeff Joslin and John Rahaim requesting a postponement of approval until after the holidays to give people time to review the final draft.

***

UPDATE ON UDGs:

Already our letters requesting a postponement have resulted in a postponement of the approval. A new email went out yesterday laying out a new schedule of community meetings and a new date for an informational meeting in January. Keep writing letters and comments in response to the latest final Draft above See the attached page for a sample letter: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/urban-design-guidelines/

The Department staff will hold two public meetings to discuss the final draft of the Urban Design Guidelines:

The project is scheduled as an informational presentation to the Planning Commission on Thursday, January 11, 2018. KEEP THOSE LETTER COMING.

 

Should we build lots more housing in San Francisco? Three reasons people disagree

by Julia Galef – excerpt

Some people, such as YIMBYs, advocate building lots more housing in San Francisco. Their basic argument is:

Housing in SF is the priciest in the country, with the average one bedroom apartment renting for over $3,000 per month (compared to the nationwide average of $1,200.)

The main reason rents are so high is because the supply of housing has been artificially restricted — new developments are constantly getting blocked by land use regulations and neighborhood associations. Meanwhile, demand to live in SF continues to rise. And since supply is not keeping pace, rents go up, as a growing number of would-be tenants outbid each other for the limited housing available.

Therefore, it’s important that we find a way to increase the rate at which we’re building new housing in SF, or it will be a city in which only the rich can afford to live.

I’ve been trying to understand why others are critical of this argument. I think there are three main areas of disagreement between what I’ll call the advocates and the critics, and I’ll briefly explain each in turn. (Note that I’m trying to present the strongest version of each argument, which may be different from the most common version.)… (more)

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?

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.