For the New Urban Density Hawks, Community Character is Not an Option

By John Mirisch : citywatchla – excerpt

GUEST WORDS–Urban planning exists to serve people and communities, not the other way around. Unfortunately, urban planners these days, perhaps under the influence of academic arrogance as well as the lure of developer dollars, seem to forget this simple truism.

A particularly invidious form of planning orthodoxy involves certain adherents of so-called “new urbanism,” which looks at density, more density and only density as the hallmark of the (for them) only acceptable form of urban living.

Without considering that people of all colors, stripes and ethnicities might like to have gardens, these urban planning densifiers support policies whose main aims are to eliminate low-density housing, without regard to preservation of the integrity of communities or without acknowledging that community character means anything.

The new urbanist density hawks also use other “arguments” apart from social justice to make their moral case for high-density, including, importantly, environmental considerations. Never mind the fact that even studiesdone by density advocates show that the supposed benefits of increased density on the environment would be marginal, at best. But that doesn’t dampen the rhetoric. Far from it. Some of the most strident density fetishists decrysingle-family neighborhoods as “the enemy” and proclaim homeowners to be nothing less than “zoo animals” and “bloodthirsty dinosaurs,” who are “angry, entitled, immoral, classist and racist.”…(more)

De-humanizing fits well into the Urban landscape that embraces robots and machines over human beings, and has been ushered into our communities under the “sharing business model”. Those of us who saw this coming and rebelled by calling it “renting not sharing”, are being vindicated as the politicians who sold us out are now under pressure to push back against the monsters they created. The sick thing is that they used taxpayer dollars to pay the lobbyists who wrote the legislation they are now stuck with. Of course any laws that make can be broken, so let’s see how long it takes for them to fix what they broke.

comments welcome at the source.

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California State Legislators Blame Cities for Housing Crisis. Local Community Leaders disagree and Kill the Bill.

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What they want to do to our neighborhoods art from standupforsanfrancisco.

A long day in Sacramento last month ended in a win for California residents opposed to Scott Wiener’s SB 827. But there are hundreds of housing and transportation bills going through the state legislature this year. Many of those bills intrude on local government jurisdiction over local matters. It is particularly disturbing for the state to intrude on local government powers as they fend off the overreach of the federal government into their affairs.

CSFN hosted a forum on SB 827 and other bills that are based on the theory that cities are not building enough housing. This is a farce.

Cities do not build housing, Developers build housing, and labor, materials, and funds do not come our of thin air when legislators clap their hands.

PLEASE WATCH THE VIDEO CLIPS AND LEARN MORE ABOUT THE REAL PROBLEMS THAT ARE CAUSING THE HOUSING CRISIS AND WHAT CAN BE DONE TO FIX THEM.

Videos from the SB 827 and Beyond: standupforsanfrancisco.org

New housing bill to add housing near transit has residents worried about the ‘Manhattan-ization’ of the Bay Area

By Riley McDermid : bizjournal – excerpt

A new bill aimed at fixing at least part of the state’s housing crisis has some Bay Area residents worried about the “Manhattan-ization” of the region, as it looks to add more housing units at potentially higher heights to projects near transit hubs.

Sponsored by Sen. Scott Wiener, (D-San Francisco), Senate Bill 827 wants to allow more housing near rail, BART and Caltrain stations, with more housing added within a half mile of those stops. Units added would also be allowed to be higher than they currently are in many cases, from four to eight stories, and possibly even taller if they were closer to transit hubs.

Proponents of the bill say California’s preference for single-family neighborhoods has put a bottleneck on building supply for housing-starved neighborhoods, while those against it say turning to building housing in taller structure could lead to a forest of apartment towers…(more)

The list of cities opposing this bill, in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Senator Wiener’s constituents are most appalled, has many hoping this will not pass. In spite of recent amendments meant to appease some affordable housing advocates, the bill remains unpopular.

New rules to ban jitneys from competing with Muni

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

The City is on the cusp of approving new regulations that will officially bar private transit service Chariot — and similar jitney services, should they arise — from directly competing with existing Muni routes.

Late last year, The City approved its first-ever comprehensive regulations of jitneys, which chiefly govern San Francisco’s only remaining private mass-transit service, Chariot… (more)

Proposed CEQA Guideline for Highway Projects Promises Flexibility In the Measurement of Traffic Impacts, But Delivers Ambiguity

By: Robert D. Thornton, Benjamin Z. Rubin, Liz Klebaner : 

In response to material opposition from many of the transportation agencies in the State, the California Natural Resources Agency  has proposed to provide transportation agencies with the discretion to determine the metric for evaluating traffic impacts of highways and road projects.  Unfortunately, instead of putting the issue to bed, the proposed regulation introduces considerable ambiguity that will likely lead to a CEQA challenge if any project EIR relies solely on Level of Service (LOS) to evaluate the significance of traffic impacts.  The proposed regulation states:

For roadway capacity projects, agencies have discretion to determine the appropriate measure of transportation impact consistent with CEQA and other applicable requirements. 

The language “consistent with CEQA and other applicable requirements” arguably creates ambiguity as to whether transportation agencies may rely solely on measures of traffic congestion such as LOS to determine the significance of traffic impacts, or whether the State’s climate change legislation mandates a “Vehicle Miles Traveled” (VMT) analysis.

As we have previously reported, the proposed SB 743 implementing regulation represents a paradigm shift in the evaluation of transportation impacts of road and development projects, by replacing the traffic congestion-based LOS metric with the VMT metric.  With VMT, the very acts of driving a vehicle or inducing vehicle travel by improving roadway infrastructure is an environmental impact requiring analysis and potentially mitigation.  The proposed regulation generally removes traffic congestion from the required scope of a CEQA impacts analyses… (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 used to have some Muni meltdowns every now and then. Now we have them daily. We also have the daily updates on where and when the Muni will stop and the route of the day musical chairs. No one is happy with the system. 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 (They are planning for 2045). while ignoring the needs of the public today. Any agency that ignores its customer base, 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 you agree let your supervisors know this is your first priority.

If you missed the hearings on impacts of SFMTA poliicies and procedures and handling of contracts and fund, you should watch tapes of some of the hearings that have been conducted recently at City Hall in various committees meetings.

The SF Board of Supervisors has been the brunt of thousands of complaints, petitions and angry public comments. Bad decisions on the part of the SFMTA management are costing the city possibly hundreds of millions of dollars. It is past time to cut our loses and change the program.

The reason the Supervisors cut themselves out of the management and legislative process is that they didn’t want to have to deal with the complaints, same as they did for the street trees. Hopefully the street tree management program will go better the SFMTA experiment did. The Supervisors are getting more complaints than ever and feel like they have no control over the issue they are blamed for. At least that is one of the comments we have heard so far to explain the latest proposal to split the SFMTA between Muni and the other departments. In this version, the Board of Supervisors would have control and final say on the local street and traffic issues.

Stay tuned for details as they come in.

Land Use Development & Transportation Integration

Why it makes sense for San Francisco

Integrating transportation and land use planning is essential to meet the ever growing needs of a vibrant city like San Francisco.  Research has proven that development patterns (and their related parking needs) heavily influence transportation choices, and the city’s current and future needs cannot be accommodated through roadway expansion and separated land uses alone. These traditional ways of planning take up precious city land and create a host of negative public and private costs and impacts on our economy, environment infrastructure and society. Compact, mixed-use infill development with streets designed to prioritize transit, walking and bicycling has proven to meet multiple quality of life objectives and is part of a suite of critical strategies to reduce transportation emissions, waste and noise and improve public health through more active lifestyles while minimizing severe and fatal traffic related injuries.

While this type of development ensures that many destinations can be reached through walking, public transit, car-sharing and bicycling, strategic investments will be needed to ensure that the transportation network can meet this demand. Locating new housing and employment centers along transit corridors is only the first step; creating partnerships that identify and provide the needed tools to make these plans and projects successful is vital. These tools include increasing transit peak-period capacity (including fleets and fleet storage) and reliability; walking and bicycling safety and comfort, and travel demand management tools like parking needs for bicycles and car-sharing and household transit passes. By coordinating land-use and transportation planning early in the design stage, we can create better outcomes that meet our city’s overall quality of life goals.

Why it makes sense for San Francisco...(more)

In their own words  SFMTA lays out their plans for the San Francisco they envision, and it doens’t include many of us’ – “Locating new housing and employment centers along transit corridors is only the first step; creating partnerships that identify and provide the needed tools to make these plans and projects successful is vital…By coordinating land-use and transportation planning early in the design stage, we can create better outcomes that meet our city’s overall quality of life goals. “

PARTNERSHIPS being the key word here. So far who have SFMTA partnered with? Not the neighborhood groups or the Muni riders. They appear to prefer to partner with Ford, GoBikes, Getaround, Scoot, Uber, Lyft and tech buses, developers and contractors instead.

SFMTA is laying out their plans to privatize the streets and gentrify the city by partnering with more corporate entities and excluding more residents from the decision making process, although it is hard to know how they could exclude too any more people when they ignore the requests of Supervisors and hundreds of citizens that object to bus stop removals.

If you object to handing over mover power to the SFMTA and their friends and allies, please take the time to let our city leaders now how you feel about this top down planning program that would merge the SFMTA with the Planning Department, creating a really big autocratic system of government.

Knowing where this is going you might want to sign the petition to repeal the gas tax and not approve any more taxes or bonds at this time. Staring the monster is a good way to cut down the damage it can do.

Neighborhoods need time to review and comment on major changes.

If you agree with that statement, and want a transparent system that informs and engages the public in legislative and administrative changes BEFORE they become law instead of notifications after, please consider supporting this letter and sending it along with your personal comments on this process to the recipients. This letter was drafted after much time and consideration by a coalition of neighborhood groups our supervisors.

***

Dear Mr. Joslin,

Please see attached letter from the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods (CSFN) on the Urban Design Guidelines (UDGs).

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Rose Hillson for George Wooding, President

***

CSFN-UDGs Letter 2017Nov21.pdf

Text version: CSFN UDGs Letter 2017Nov21.docx

 

 

Governor Brown Vetoes CEQA Bill That Would Mandate Lead Agencies To File NOEs For Projects Approved As Categorically Exempt

By Miller Starr Regalia : jdsupra – excerpt

On October 15, 2017, Governor  Brown vetoed SB 80 (Wieckowski), a bill that would have added to CEQA’s already detailed notice requirements.

Specifically, SB 80 would have amended Public Resources Code §§ 21092.2, 21092.3, 21108 and 21152 so as to require, inter alia, that state and local lead agencies:  (1) offer to provide scoping notices, notices of preparation, and notices of determination by email to persons so requesting; (2) post all such notices on the agency’s website (if any); and (3) file with OPR or the County Clerk, as applicable, all Notices of Exemption (NOEs) for approved projects found exempt pursuant to the categorical exemptions contained in the CEQA Guidelines (as opposed to other possible bases for exemption).

The bill would have also required county clerks to post on their counties’ Internet Web sites EIR scoping notices and notices of preparation for EIRs and negative declarations, for specified periods… (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)