To Improve Transit Quality, 2 Supervisors Propose Breaking Up SFMTA

by Teresa Hammerl : hoodline – excerpt

As the Chronicle reported yesterday, the Central Subway‘s main contractor claims that the $1.6 billion project won’t be completed any earlier than 2021—a year after the city’s expected completion date, and three years later than the original target.

Contractor Tutor Perini Corporation also notes that the project will be tens of millions of dollars over budget.

In a report the contractor published for the Board of Supervisors, it noted that infrastructure delays are to blame for the later date. Because Tutor Perini was asked to relocate power lines near the Central Subway’s Chinatown station, at least 15 months were added to the project timeline, it claimed.

Phase 1 and 2 and of the T-Third expansion | IMAGE: SFMTA

Earlier today, the Examiner also reported that two Supervisors announced their own proposal for the future of the city’s transit agency.

District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin and District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai may introduce a June 2018 ballot measure to split the SFMTA into Muni and a separate agency that handles parking and traffic management.

The proposal would give supervisors the ability to make their own appointments to the SFMTA’s Board of Directors. Currently, that power is held only by the mayor… (more)

The one thing we can count on is a daily Muni meltdown. Let’s face it, the grand experiment failed and it is time to stop the bleeding. We need a new method of managing transportation based on the real world and the needs of today’s residents. The SFMTA spends way too much time envisioning and trying to sell the perfect design for the future while ignoring the needs of the public today. Any agency that ignores its customers, blames everyone for their failures, and can’t get by on 1 billion dollars a year deserves a quick timely demise before they do any more damage or sign any more bad contracts. Hopefully, the Board of Supervisors will not dole out any more money to start any new projects until they finish the ones they are already in the middle of. If this move surprises you, you should watch some of the hearings that have been conducted recently as the entire Board has been the brunt of thousands of complaints, petitions and angry public comments. Bad decisions on the part of the SFMTA management are costing possibly hundreds of millions of dollars. It is past time to cut our loses.

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San Francisco’s leaning tower of lawsuits

by jon wetheirm : cbsnews – excerpt
(includes video and a graphic map that charts ground movement)

The Millennium Tower opened to great acclaim with high-priced, posh apartments. But those accolades and property values are sinking, along with the building’s foundation

It’s a story as old as cities themselves: prosperity comes to town and triggers a building boom. In modern San Francisco, rows of skyscrapers have begun lining the downtown streets and recasting the skyline, monuments to the triumph of the tech sector. Leading this wave, the Millennium Tower. 58 stories of opulence, it opened in 2009 to great acclaim, then the tallest residential building west of the Mississippi. Though priced in the millions, the inventory of posh apartments moved quickly. Yet for all its curb appeal, the building has, quite literally, one fundamental problem: it’s sinking into mud and tilting toward its neighbors. Engineering doesn’t often make for rollicking mystery, but San Francisco is captivated by the tale of the leaning tower and the lawsuits it’s spawned. It’s a story positioned — albeit at an angle — somewhere between civic scandal and civic curiosity, an illustration of what can happen when zeal for development overtakes common sense…

“Nobody has owned up to why this building is not performing.”… “Everybody is afraid to tell the truth. Because if we get to the bottom of this, they are worried that it is going to, in some ways, slow down the building boom that is happening in San Francisco.”Aaron Peskin.…(more)

$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)

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)

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

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)

Strategic Combination of FivePoint Holdings Creates Largest Developer of Mixed-Use Communities In Coastal California

prnewswire – excerpt

ALISO VIEJO, Calif., May 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Four of the most innovative, master-planned communities and their management company are being combined to form FivePoint Holdings, LLC, which is now the largest developer of mixed-use communities in coastal California.

FivePoint will own interests in and manage (1) The San Francisco Shipyard, (2) Candlestick Point in San Francisco, (3) Newhall Ranch in Los Angeles County and (4) Great Park Neighborhoods in Irvine all led by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Emile Haddad. All four communities, located in major urban areas, are planned to provide critically needed housing adjacent to job centers while maintaining the important balance between growth and the preservation of California’s unique quality of life…

Lennar Corporation, one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, formerly held equity positions in each of the four communities and the management company. Under this strategic combination of communities, Lennar has become the largest investor in FivePoint…

ABOUT FIVEPOINT HOLDINGS:

Spanning the state from Southern California to the San Francisco Bay Area, FivePoint is now the largest owner and developer of mixed-use, master planned communities in coastal California based on the total number of residential homesites permitted under existing entitled zoning. These four existing communities represent major real estate developments in three of the most dynamic and supply-constrained markets along the California coast—Orange County, Los Angeles County and San Francisco County(more)

 

 

 

SF halts Mission housing development over ‘bulky’ design

By Michael Barba : sfexaminer – excerpt

The “bulky” design of a mostly market-rate housing development slated to span several lots of Mission Street prevented the project from moving forward at the Planning Commission last week.

The development would take advantage of the state density bonus law allowing developers to build denser and taller than typically permitted in exchange for on-site affordable housing.

It would rise eight stories near Mission and 25th streets and bring 75 units of housing to the neighborhood, including eight units rented at below-market-rate prices. The project is also just a block away from the 24th Street BART Station and has spots for bicycles rather than car parking.

But several commissioners were troubled by the size and design of the proposal, which would replace a laundromat and outdoor parking lot on three lots of Mission Street.

“It’s just basically plopping a foreign object into this area and not thinking about its consequences,” said Commissioner Kathrin Moore.

The commission unanimously voted last Thursday to delay a decision on the project until late November, asking the developer to redraw the plans as multiple buildings rather than one… (more)

 

Map shows which SF neighborhoods are hit hardest by air pollution

 By Rachel Swan : sfchronicle – exceprt (includes map)

Cranes

This zrants photo was taken over a week ago. There were twice as many cranes yesterday.

Black dust cakes the poplar trees in South Park, the San Francisco waterfront neighborhood at the western end of the Bay Bridge…

Congestion — defined as traffic flowing below 35 miles per hour on the city’s freeways — increased from 3.8 percent of the time in 2010 to 5.7 percent in 2015…
A few years ago, Rogers discovered that her gentrifying neighborhood is among the most polluted in the city. SoMa is the locus of San Francisco’s building boom, so people are pouring in and cars are jamming the streets, many of which funnel traffic to and from the Bay Bridge… (more)

The number one factor in the increase in bad air in San Francisco is construction. There are cars all over the city and the freeways are no more jammed than before, although the speeds are slower. If the following is correct, and  “Congestion — defined as traffic flowing below 35 miles per hour on the city’s freeways — increased from 3.8 percent of the time in 2010 to 5.7 percent in 2015.”, the solution would be to speed the freeway traffic up the traffic, not slow it down the way SFMTA is doing by slowing the freeway access road traffic. See the many complaints about Potrero, Van Ness, and Lombard.

This article fails to place much of the blame on the construction zones, even though the largest number of cranes in the sky are in SOMA, and Mission Bay around the Warriors stadium and the medical center, where pollution is highest.

If SB 35 passes and the construction moves west, the bad air will follow. The solid massing of buildings along narrow streets stops the breeze and traps more bad air the same way a mountain does.

Perhaps a new approach to keeping traffic out might be to move the jobs out to where the people live now rather than figuring out how to move the people to the jobs each day. Palo Alto wants to try building less office space. Sounds like a familiar approach SF tried a few years ago. Hope their legislators do a better job of writing the law than ours did wuth Prop M. hint: Use the word “must” not “shall”.

Rare Outer Sunset housing development may use new local density bonus

By Michael Barba : sfexaminer – excerpt

The architect behind a rare four-story housing development in the Outer Sunset said he is considering using the new density bonus program in San Francisco to build more units and a taller structure than currently planned.

Architect Kodor Baalbaki designed the plans for a mixed-use building with 18 residential units at Lawton Street and 42nd Avenue, the current site of a 76 gas station. Proposed in June, the plans include two below-market-rate units under Proposition C’s inclusionary housing requirements.

The project is likely raising eyebrows in the Sunset for proposing a building taller than the two-story houses that fill the neighborhood. The Outer Sunset has one of the highest numbers of single-family homes in San Francisco and has largely been untouched by new development as cranes tower elsewhere.

The project would be one of the first known developments to add more units and height through the new Home-SF density bonus program from Supervisor Katy Tang, who represents the Sunset District.

Home-SF, which went into effect last Thursday, allows certain developers to build two stories above height-limits and add more density in exchange for 30 percent on-site affordable housing.

While Baalbaki said using the density bonus is under consideration, there are still issues that need to be pencilled out, such as pricing, height and the number of affordable units on-site.

“I actually had a phone call from the office of Supervisor Katy Tang and we talked about it and I asked them for more information,” Baalbaki said. “I believe more information could clarify this issue and we are willing to technically find out if there is a way of making this happen.”… (more)

 

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