$2.3M Guy Place Park Redesign Approved!!

We are pleased to report a small success that took a lot of effort from a lot of people in District six to pull off. This proves it can be done and gives us hope. One question remains. Why so much concrete in the parks? Why no grass?

Oct 31, 2017 — After nearly 2 years of protests and official appeals, Guy Place Park has been redesigned with the removal of 7 futuristic steel and concrete 20-foot vertical columns and their replacement with 8 mature multi-trunk heritage Birch Trees that will serve as a refuge habitat for Allen’s Hummingbird. The 4 remaining columns will function as living “green” towers adorned with nectar producing foliage. At the same time, the 3 “significant” Avocado and Ash Trees will still be demolished to make way for the minipark in Rincon Hill. The vertical column planned for the sidewalk bulbout fronting the new park has been removed from the bulbout design, per our winning appeal on a unanimous vote by the City Board of Appeals. Here is the new design approved October 23rd by San Francisco Arts Commission, to be put out to bid November.
http://sfrecpark.org/guy-place-design-finalized/

Thanks to everyone who signed the petition and supported the effort(more)

Restoring California’s ability to recharge groundwater a more cost-effective drought strategy

By Judy Corbett : caeconomy – excerpt

Experts expect more intense cycles of drought and flooding to be a common occurrence in the future. It is imperative that we capture and bank storm water during wet years, so it is available during periods of drought.

California has dramatically more storage capacity in underground aquifers than is available in surface level facilities. Further, natural groundwater recharge and storage is comparatively inexpensive, amounting to about one-sixth the cost of other options.

Sadly the natural recharge of groundwater has, over the past century, been disrupted by local land use decisions. We have built on and paved our natural landscapes, drained agricultural lands, filled in wetlands, and channelized our rivers, resulting in the loss of untold acre feet of water which otherwise would have been stored underground

This happened without local jurisdictions – nor State and federal government – being aware of the water shortage problem that would eventually develop. While the State of California requires cities and counties to adopt general plans that define where and how they will grow, nowhere in general plan law is there reference to identifying and preserving land well suited to natural groundwater recharge… (more)

Rent Control Law in Crosshairs During State Assembly Recess

By Diego Aguilar-Canabal : thebaycitybeacon – excerpt

A broad swath of activists—from union leaders, to democratic socialists, and tenant advocates—will descend upon Sacramento this morning to demand swift action on the Costa Hawkins Act, a longstanding restriction on rent control. Assembly Bill 1506, introduced last year by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D – Santa Monica), failed to pass through committee after Bloom faced overwhelming opposition from homeowners and real estate groups.

The bill is co-sponsored by Assemblymembers Rob Bonta (D – Oakland) and David Chiu (D – SF), as well as State Senator Ben Allen (D – Redondo Beach), and consists of a single sentence: to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Act of 1995

The Housing Now campaign, mobilized in part by the SEIU Local 1021, is bringing rent control advocates to testify before the Assembly’s Housing and Community Development Committee, which is chaired by Assemblymember Chiu. According to Chiu’s office, the meeting is scheduled as an informational hearing on “The Plight of Renters in the Housing Affordability Crisis.” This comes on the heels of a massive phone-banking campaign by the Democratic Socialists of America to call members of the State Assembly in support of AB 1506… (more)

Sounds like a promising start to the new year. California residents need a break from gentrification and this is a good first step in that direction. We talked to activists supporting this at the state level and here is an update from people who went to Sacramento this week.

UPDATE:

“Wiener signed onto support repeal of Costa-Hawkins when we had our town hall in February but has been silent since then. He has suggested to folks that it would be an easier sell to repeal parts of it (we want a full repeal). Ting has been silent as well. We want them both to sign on as co-sponsors of the repeal bill. Chiu is one of the sponsors of the bill. He is also head of the Housing Committee in Sacramento, which mean he has a lot of power to bring the bill to a vote in his committee and get it to the floor. If returning control to local governments is important to you, let your state reps know you want to repeal Costa-Hawkins by passing AB 1506. You may also sign the petition and help those who are working on this issue by sharing this to your friends around the state. http://www.tenantstogether.org/campaigns/repeal-costa-hawkins-rental-housing-act

 

Marin doesn’t deserve criticism from Sacramento

By Dick Spotswood : marinij – excerpt

Marin-bashing is a popular state Capitol pastime. Look at criticism Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-Greenbrae, endured when he passed legislation defining Marin as — are you ready for this — “suburban” instead of “urban.”

It’s a politically risk-free avocation for glib legislators of both parties whose constituents resent prosperous coastal suburbs in general, and Marin in particular.

An IJ reader suggested a 2016 article by journalist Scott Lucas in the real estate industry news site Curbed-San Francisco. It explained that much of the “housing crisis” lies with planning policies pursued by San Francisco and metro San Jose. Those booming areas successfully lured tax-producing industries without matching them with housing for new workers.

Lucas repeats that “regional planners ought to manage growth to achieve an appropriate ratio (between) housing units and jobs.”

This jobs-housing balance is held out as a planning ideal based on the notion that “cities where the jobs are ought to have housing too.”

The term refers to the ratio of employment opportunities and population in specific places. It illuminates what generates commuter traffic congestion.

It’s a difficult-to-achieve goal. Due to economics and lifestyle choices many humans ignore planners’ command to live close to jobs.

It emerges that at the bottom of the pile of jurisdictions with far more jobs than housing is San Francisco, go-go growth San Jose and San Mateo County.

Which counties are doing the best balancing housing and jobs?

The answer will shock Marin bashers: Marin and Sonoma… (more)

Affordable housing could be lost in Strawberry

By Dick Spotswood : marinij – excerpt

Marin’s supply of affordable housing may take a hit if the current plans for reuse of the former Baptist seminary in unincorporated Strawberry go forward.

The Strawberry campus now has 200 affordable units, all rented. Under the plan devised by the site’s developer, North Coast Land Holdings, when all is said and done only about 60 affordable units will exist.

The old housing will be demolished and much of it replaced by market-rate condos and some undetermined form of a college campus.

If county staff allows the project to proceed to the environmental evaluation stage, the existing Strawberry Community Plan, developed after much public input, will allocated to the recycling bin… (more)

 

National Park Service Drops Effort To Restrict Dog Walking In GGNRA

cbsnews – excerpt (includes video)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – The National Park Service on Thursday said it is dropping a more than decade-long fight to impose new restrictions on dogs in the Golden Gate National Recreational Area after a lawsuit filed by dog owners uncovered irregularities in the decision-making process.

The park service had released a final environmental impact statement last December on the proposed dog management plan for the 80,000-acre national recreation area, which spans parts of Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties and includes popular dog walking areas such as Ocean Beach, Fort Funston, Crissy Field, Muir Beach and Rancho Corral de Tierra.

The rules, intended to protect environmental resources and wildlife and increase public safety, were expected to be finalized as early as January 2017 after a more than 10-year process… (more)

RELATED:
National Park Service Gives Up Fight Over GGNRA Dog Regulations

Study: Pollution Kills More People Than War, Smoking, Hunger, and Other Causes of Death

jonathanturle – excerpt

We have previously discussed how environmental dangers remain something of an abstraction for most people who fail to recognize that changes in air or water pollution standards results in high and quantifiable rises in death rates.  Even changes in areas like shipping fuels can translate to thousands of deaths.

However, since these deaths are not immediate and borne privately, the true costs of pollution are often dismissed.  I have been highly critical of the environmental record of the Trump Administration for this reason in rolling back on protections in a variety of areas as well as appointing regulators with anti-environmental records.

Now a new major study has found that environmental pollution kills more people every year that all of the wars.  It exceeds the death tolls for smoking, hunger or natural disasters combined. It kills more than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Yet, unlike these causes of death, pollution remains a policy concern that is often pushed to the side for more immediate goals like job creation.

This is not to say that environmental protection would trump all other concerns but rather the real costs of such pollution are rarely discussed in real terms of premature deaths by politicians.

The study in the respected Lancet medical journal found that one out of every six premature deaths in the world in 2015 was caused by toxic exposure.  That amounts to 9 million people who died prematurely due to pollution.  The study also found that the cost of the resulting illnesses and deaths amounted to some $4.6 trillion in annual losses.

Worse yet, the 9 million deaths from pollution appears a highly conservative estimate since it relied on only limited data on specific measurable cases of deaths and illnesses. The actual number is likely much higher. Moreover, only half of the 5000 news chemicals introduced since 1950 have actually been fully tested for their toxicity.

Obviously, the rate of death is higher in developing countries, though we are now experiencing heavy pollution migration from Asia.  In India, an astonishing one out of every four deaths are attributed to pollution. In China, there is a term for “cancer villages” in which a huge percentage of the citizens are developing cancers due to horrific environmental conditions. In China, one out of every five deaths are attributed to pollution with 1.8 million premature deaths a year…(more)

First District Affirms CEQA Exemptions and General Plan Consistency Finding For Three-Unit Infill Condo Project on San Francisco’s Telegraph Hill

 By Miller Starr Regalia : lexology – excerpt

While “agree[ing] with appellant that Telegraph Hill is outstanding and unique in a city of outstanding and unique places[,]” the First District Court of Appeal nonetheless affirmed the trial court’s order denying plaintiff/appellant neighborhood group’s mandamus petition challenging the City of San Francisco’s approval of a 3-unit condominium project there on CEQA and general plan consistency grounds. Protect Telegraph Hill v. City and County of San Francisco (2017) ___ Cal.App.5th ___. In a 15-page opinion originally filed September 14, but belatedly ordered published on October 13, 2017, the Court upheld the City’s findings that the project, which involved renovation of an existing deteriorated small cottage and construction of a new 3-dwelling unit residential structure, was categorically exempt from CEQA and consistent with the City’s general plan and planning code…

Key takeways from the Court of Appeal’s opinion include:…(more)

Governor Brown Vetoes Flawed AB 890, Signals Preference for More Comprehensive CEQA Reform

Miller Starr Regalia : lexology – excerpt

Fortunately, Governor Brown was receptive to the bill’s many critics, and struck a blow for local land use control, local initiative rights, CEQA reform and commence sense by vetoing it. His short letter to Assembly members, which can be found here, states in pertinent part that “[i]nstead of the piecemeal approach taken in this bill, I prefer a more comprehensive CEQA review, which takes into account both the urgent need for more housing and thoughtful environmental analysis. Hear, hear!…(more)

RELATED:
The Opposite of CEQA Reform: Legally Flawed AB 890 Would Expand Opportunities For CEQA Litigation Abuse While Abridging Constitutional Local Initiative Rights,”
by Arthur F. Coon and Bryan W. Wenter, AICP, posted September 19, 2017.)

Mass Transit Experience in LA: If You Build it, They Won’t Come!

By Richard Lee Abrams :  citywatchla – ecerpt

et’s look at some facts about mass transit and see whose brain gets the most pain. In particular, consider INTRA-urban fixed mass rail transit. This includes subways, light rail and trolleys within one urban area (which will cover several cities like LA, Beverly Hills, Inglewood, etc.) A train between San Bernardino and Los Angeles, however, would be INTER-Urban. That is also a subject worthy of discussion, but not for this short article.

There are three main things to examine when thinking about INTRA-Urban fixed rail mass transit: Mathematics, Topography (geography), and Finances. (See 1915 Study of Street Traffic Conditions in City of Los Angeles for extensive study of these factors.)…(more)

We are taking no position, just want to share this author’s thoughts.

 

 

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