Why A Laundromat Might be Considered ‘Historic’

By Joe Kukura : sfweekly – excerpt

A large housing project is delayed because a laundromat is being considered a “historic resource,” so we looked to see if this claim holds any water.

Some San Franciscans’ eyeballs were rolling on spin cycle last week when a 75-unit housing development was delayed four months, so the Board of Supervisors could consider whether the Wash Club laundromat (above) should be considered a “historic resource.” How in the heck could a laundromat constitute a valuable piece of San Francisco history? Why is the history of a laundromat holding up a development project in the midst of a housing crisis? SF Weekly dug through documents submitted to the Planning Commission, to iron out why a laundromat is being evaluated for possible historic significance… (more)

The arguments for historical significance are not what you would expect, but, are indicative of the creative minds working to preserve the SF Mission District for existing residents and businesses. The residents of the Mission stress quality of life over quantity of housing units.

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Housing bill could result in 85-foot tall buildings on El Camino

By Elaine Goodman : dailypost – excerpt

A bill introduced in the California Legislature would ease restrictions on housing projects built near transit — bypassing some of the controls over such development by the cities in which they would be built.

Senate Bill 827, introduced last month by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, would remove density limits and parking requirements for housing built close to transit.

It would also set minimum height limits that cities could impose for such development, ranging from 45 feet to 85 feet in some circumstances. A city could increase that height but not go below it…

According to Wiener’s website, the bill is sponsored by a group called California YIMBY, which stands for “Yes in my backyard.”….

City governments oppose the bill

The League of California Cities opposes SB 827, saying it would undermine locally developed general plans (called the Comp Plan in Palo Alto), housing plans and development restrictions… (more)

Opposition from irate citizens around the state convinced the senator to amend SB827, but Many people object to any further interference from the state in local zoning and planning matters under local jurisdiction. Stay tuned for updates as more bills are pouring in. (Technically, the 85 foot buildings could be over 100 feet if the state density bonus is applied to the 85 feet.)

SF public defenders to challenge ‘conservative’ judges in June election

By Michael Barba : sfexaminer – excerpt

Four San Francisco public defenders are seeking to oust Republican-appointed local judges in the June election who they say are too conservative to continue sitting on the bench.

Niki Solis, Kwixuan Maloof, Phoenix Streets and Maria Evangelista are all longtime attorneys with the Public Defender’s Office. Each filed paperwork on Wednesday declaring their intent to run for different judicial seats in San Francisco Superior Court that often head to the polls without contest.

“Even though San Francisco is supposed to be one of the most liberal cities in this country, the bench is not representative of San Francisco,” Maloof said. “Racism is still very strong in the San Francisco Superior Courts.”…(more)

Autonomous vehicles in the spotlight – drivers and manufacturers on autopilot?

Trial begins over SF waterfront height limits as state seeks to overturn Prop. B

By Michael Barba : sfeaminer – excerpt

A trial that will determine whether San Francisco voters will be stripped of their power to decide how tall developers can build along the waterfront began Wednesday with an attorney questioning the decision-making ability of voters…

The State Lands Commission, which manages public land in California including the waterfront and is chaired by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, sued San Francisco over the ballot measure that year.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos must now decide whether to invalidate Prop. B.

Jacobs argued that voters are too uneducated on ballot issues to decide the future of major development projects and limited in their ability to tweak the projects by either voting yes or no on a project. Instead, Jacobs said the Port Commission should be in charge of waterfront height limits…(more)

Are the stupid San Francisco citizens dumb  enough to vote for a former mayor who sues and insults them while he is running for office? The power grabs are coming at us from the top down brigade.

“They are attempting to put the very notion that citizens in California have a right to govern themselves on trial,” Golinger told the San Francisco Examiner…(more)

 

Homes in SF, some historic, illegally demolished by developers

By J.K. Dineen : sfchronicle – excerpt

In early December, the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection received a permit application to demolish a home at 49 Hopkins St., a 1935 modernist residence just east of Twin Peaks that was designed by famed architect Richard Neutra.
But there was a problem with the application: The house had been torn down two months earlier. All that remained of the white, two-story redwood-and-concrete-block home was a garage door and frame. The rest of the house, one of five structures the pioneering modernist designed in San Francisco, had been carried off in dump trucks…

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents Russian Hill, Chinatown and North Beach, said he’s drafting legislation that would impose penalties substantial enough to discourage illegal knockdowns.

“The signal that is sent time and again is that you can demolish even some of the most important historic, iconic buildings in the city with impunity,” Peskin said. “It really speaks to an attitude and a culture in our planning and building departments that nothing is sacred.”…

“It’s serial lying and serial fraud over and over again, and they get away with it,” said Planning Commissioner Dennis Richards.

Planning Department Zoning Administrator Scott Sanchez said imposing a five-year stop-work order penalizes neighbors who have to live with the detritus of the aborted construction project. It also temporarily eliminates a housing unit. But he agreed that the current penalties are not much of a deterrent.

“We don’t have anything in the planning code that addresses those violations,” he said….(more)

What really makes America great or unique? We used to have trust in a system of law that relied on well-intentioned citizens electing officials to write laws that the public respected and agreed to abide by.

We no longer have trust in government and we no longer have a honest citizenry. Now we are faced by the daunting option of anarchy or an over-bearing government that over regulates us. There is no over-seeing eye in the sky that watches out for our interest. The enforcement system relies on public complaints to investigate illegal activities.

If you see something that looks “wrong” you must file a complaint with the zoning administrator and that report may eventually get the attention it deserves. As Planning Department Zoning Administrator Scott Sanchez points out, the options for reprisal are limited.

Can we pass stricter laws with higher penalties that may stop these illegal actions? Perhaps, but, that will not happen overnight. Perhaps we need to extend the penalties to the contractors and others who are involved in the demolition, or encourage neighbors to do a lot more checking as they see construction sites go up next door. Look up those permit numbers to see what is included in the approved plans, and call anything suspicious to the attention of your supervisor.

The enforcement system should be a large part of any conversation with candidates for mayor and supervisor as we move into this highly charged campaign. Ask them for solutions and support the ones with the best answers for solving the problems you want dealt with.

RELATED:
For a really interesting presentation on a CEQA Exemption argument at the Board of Supervisors Meeting on January 9, 2018. Will try to get the link after the live show, but, this is the 3 PM special hearing. The property under appeal is at 2417 Green Street. Other than historic resource protection issue and this one has it all. – possible flooding or soil issues, a famous Holloywood filmmaker, contaminated soil, poor soil that is protected under the soil-protection act protection act and other issues raised by a geotechnical engineer; the historical resource is built on a brick foundation in poor soil and the plan is to anchor their foundation to the brick foundation on the poor soil. I don’t see how they can deny this appeal.

A multi-billion-dollar ‘mega measure’ to fix Bay Area traffic for good heading your way

By Erin Baldassar : mercurynews – excerpt

Imagine a Bay Area with highways that flow instead of grind to a halt. With trains that ring the bay, some running 24 hours a day. With ferries that stop at more than a handful of terminals and autonomous buses cruising in their own lanes, blasting past cars on the freeway.

If that sounds like a fantasy, just wait. The dream may be closer to reality than you think.

A coalition of Bay Area business leaders represented by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the Bay Area Council, along with the urban planning think tank SPUR, say that dream is the answer to traffic congestion on Bay Area roads, which grew 84 percent between 2010 and 2016. The average commuter now spends more than 29 hours a year slogging through highways at speeds of 35 mph or slower.

“People are wasting hours of their life in traffic,” said Gabriel Metcalf, the president and CEO of SPUR. “Conversations started all over the Bay Area asking the question, can we do something at a bigger scale than we have done before? Big enough to actually solve the problem? Big enough to actually get us a different regional transportation system than we have today?”…

“The voting public has got to connect the dots that if they want the transportation issues solved, if they want access to housing solved, they’ve got to do this,” he said. “And they should want to do it, and they should even be excited about it.”...(more)

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.

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)