Look to Pier 70 to see Why San Francisco Voters do Not Trust City Hall

Op-ed by Zrants

You need to Look no further than the ‘Pier 70 Mixed-Use District Project’ to understand the anger and frustrations of neighborhood groups and ordinary citizens who spent hours and their time to work out deals with city planners to somewhat mitigate the negative effects of increased populations moving onto their tender turf, to be told that the plan has changed.

The project voters approved is being amended for a much less friendly design. Density levels are going up. Six stories are really nine stories. In fact forge the promises the voters counted on. Now that the project got through the election, they are scrapping it.

That is why, when voters get the chance, the only safe way to vote on a development project is to vote against it. Look the difference between 8 Washington and Pier 70. The voters voted against 8 Washington and nothing changed. The voters approved a plan for Pier 70 as it was presented by the developers but the design has changed since the vote.

An editorial by Don Clark that ran in the Potrero View outlines some of our primary concerns. To see the draft EIR and see for yourself, go here and scroll down the page:

…The City and County of San Francisco intends to grant Forest City Enterprises rights to build a wall of nine-story buildings along the Central Waterfront, from 20th to 22nd streets, which would completely obscure scenic Bay vistas for many, if not most, Potrero Hill eastern slope residents.  As one travels down 20th Street from Missouri Street to Third, beautiful Bay views would disappear.  Imagine that the American Industrial Center, the red building with white columns at the corner of 22nd and Third streets, was doubled in height.  The replacement of four- and six-story structures with nine-story edifices would dramatically Manhattanize this historical waterfront… (more)

Building height limits are not the only promises being broken. One of the major concerns to neighbors and all who drive through the area was the increased traffic and congestion that SFMTA claimed they could handle. That no longer looks likely. Not only are the buildings going to be taller and contain more people, but, the DOT announced they are not funding the electrification of Caltrans and other transit projects until they conduct an audit to find out why there are such large cost overruns.

A couple of recent laws that were passed that citizens should know about are: mentioned by Den Clark: California Senate Bill 743 eliminated scenic protections from transit infill projects, which the City quickly applied. The November 26, 2013 Planning Department Summary, Attachment A, shows that the Planning Department has removed consideration of scenic vistas from most of San Francisco’s waterfront (http://sfmea.sfplanning.org/CEQA%20Update-SB%20743%20Summary.pdf)

Send comments to Lisa Gibson Lisa.Gibson@sfgov.org on Pier 70 Mixed-Use Project by Tuesday, 5 PM February 21, 2017. Sample letter from Peter Linenthal (eir-pdf-new)

The Developer, Forest City, is publishing a Design for Development document which will be presented to the Planning Commission in an informational hearing on March 23rd. There will be an opportunity then for public comment. The Final EIR will take months and will go to the Planning Commission as part of the final approvals. There’s a lot we don’t know yet. The Draft EIR has a Maximum Residential Scenario and a Maximum Commercial Scenario and Forest City is doing a phased development which makes it especially difficult to know what to expect.

SF confident in traffic plan for Warriors’ planned arena despite concerns

By Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt – from April 30

A newly formed group is predicting a traffic nightmare around the proposed Warriors arena in Mission Bay, but city officials say they have it under control. For nearly a year, city officials and the basketball team have worked to finalize plans for the 18,000-seat arena and development of two towers and commercial space at Mission Bay, considered a biotech and medical hub. The project has enjoyed wide support, but this week a group calling itself Mission Bay Alliance has emerged to announce opposition, threatening lawsuits and a ballot measure, arguing the traffic will impair hospital and research operations. The group is not affiliated with UC San Francisco, which has a large Mission Bay medical campus. The criticism comes even before the project’s environmental impact report is due out next month.

Today, (April 30) the team and city officials will present a traffic management plan to the Mission Bay Community Advisory Committee.

In a Wednesday briefing, city project managers Adam Van de Water and Ken Rich outlined the steps being taken to mitigate the traffic impacts. The arena site has 950 parking spaces planned, with a majority reserved for office and retail buildings, but city officials say they will be freed up after-hours. And there would be another 132 leased from a nearby garage…

City officials said the project’s environmental analysis will show that even in the worst-case scenario — when a Giants baseball game is held at nearby AT&T Park and it’s a peak commute time — they are short about 300 spaces. To address the shortfall and traffic congestion overall, The City is working on securing parking on two Port of San Francisco properties. Those who park there would be brought to the arena via a shuttle. The sites under consideration include a 250-vehicle lot near the future Crane Cove Park and Pier 70 at 16th and Illinois streets. And an overflow lot for up to 1,000 spaces could be available at Pier 80, which city officials said would divert cars from entering Mission Bay…

The arena project would generate $14.1 million annually in revenue, which includes a $2.50 fee per ticket sold, according to The City. The City would expend $5 million in city services, most of which would go toward Muni service… (more)

Tearing down 280

This from SaveMuniSF

Here’s is an introduction to another oncoming land use/transportation use mess, predictably cooked up by SPUR, the Mayor’s office and the DCP. It comes on top of – or perhaps as part of – the Mayoral Task Force’s so-called transportation “plan” for San Francisco.

As you look through this, consider the possibility that the objective of SF’s planning tri-partite to knock DTX out of the New Starts running so Central Subway Phase III can be inserted in its place.

As noted in the daily rags, the latest SPUR/Gillian Gilette/DCP plan is to remove the northern end of I-280 and replace it with a beautifully-landscaped surface arterial (something on the order of the perpetually-congested Octavia extension of 101). One of the problems with this grandiose scheme is that it would dump freeway traffic onto a new surface arterial somewhere in the vicinity of 16th Street, thereby pre-empting the space now occupied by the Caltrain main line tracks.

If it were necessary to underground or otherwise change the trackage between the existing tunnel under Potrero Hill and Second and King, it would add at least $1 billion to the cost of DTX and at least 8 years to the schedule.
In the process this momentous change would overturn decisions that were studied, debated in public meetings, environmentally-cleared and approved by many agencies over a decade ago. As indicated, these late coming proposed changes risk losing DTX, especially now with George Miller gone and Nancy Pelosi significantly weakened.

Here’s the beginning of what’s wrong with idea:

First, it will dump northbound I-280 traffic onto SF surface streets much farther south.

Second, the new arterial would occupy the space now occupied by the Caltrain tracks, meaning that the tracks would have to be either expensively relocated or even more expensively undergrounded.

Third, there’s no money for removing the freeway, much less for building the surface-level replacement streets, much less for paying for relocating or undergrounding the railroad. (No doubt Metcalf has some vague idea in his head of paying for all this via the large-scale commercial development he envisions will come to that part of San Francisco. Unfortunately it is a virtual certainty that any such future proceeds would be eaten up paying for the new roadways, bicycle paths, tree linings, medians, parklets and other amenities deemed necessary to support the gleaming new development.

Most damaging of all is the signal such a program would send. The message would read that San Francisco now has other interests and consequently desires to delay DTX for a decade or more. If the city possessing the Downtown Terminal isn’t interested in bringing in the commuter trains, then who exactly from the outside would be?

As if the above weren’t bad enough they also want to move Caltrain’s vital 4th and King rail storage and staging area to some distant location, presumably south of San Francisco. This would significantly push up Caltrain’s operating costs, to the point where it would no longer make much sense for Caltrain to serve San Francisco County. There are two practical ways of handling Caltrain train storage and staging needs, neither one of which would require relocation and neither of which would blight Fourth Street or Mission Bay.

SPUR/CCSF’s arrival on the scene 15 years late with development proposals that threaten to overturn long standing DTX plans is no joke. Given the vigorous competition between States and cities for badly needed New Starts funding, this “playing around” with issues threatens to put DTX out of the running for New Starts funding which would mean no DTX for many decades. And that would be a big loss for San Francisco.

Transbay Plans: 60% Of SF Workforce Comes From Out Of Town

by : sfappeal – excerpt

With the Bay Bridge’s new eastern span opening in less than two weeks, Bay Area transit planners discussed looming capacity issues on the bridge and other transbay travel options at a San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association forum earlier this week.
Sarah Dennis-Phillips from the San Francisco Planning Department discussed at the Thursday lunchtime forum held at SPUR headquarters how job and housing growth in San Francisco and the East Bay by the year 2040 will translate into more people commuting in and out of San Francisco.
All new workers will not be living in the city,” Dennis-Phillips said. “We have to find a way to get them here.”…
The entire Bay Bridge will be closed starting 8 p.m. Wednesday and is scheduled to reopen the day after Labor Day at 5 a.m. when the new eastern span—a $6.4 billion project—will officially open… (more)

Economic cleansing, part two

Guardian Editorial – excerpt

Don’t let realtors’ cash determine the future of San Francisco
Over the next two years, tens of thousands of San Franciscans will face the loss of their homes. If the current tech boom is anything like the last one, the impact on the city will be the economic equivalent of a massive earthquake, with displacement transforming entire neighborhoods and low-income tenants, artists, writers, musicians, small merchants, cheap restaurants, and nonprofits getting chucked aside to make way for an influx of wealthier people and the businesses that serve them.
That’s why the supervisorial races are so critically important — and why groups like the Association of Realtors, which wants to limit tenant protections, is throwing such a huge amount of money into two district races… (more)

What is wrong with the status quo? Why do people move to San Francisco if they don’t like it as is? San Francisco residents revere our city as a jewel, like Paris, to be preserved with our views, quaint neighborhoods, and distinct cultures intact.
Being progressive is of no political consequence when the primary decision is whether to preserve the city as it is or tear it down and rebuild it. This is where the denser population along a transit corridor argument begins to distort reality.
Look behind the green mask of the SFMTA’s allegiance to Transit First anti car plans and you will find the connection between the “greening” argument and the green money of the developers intent on displacing property owners as fast as they can so they can grab up their land on the cheap.
Ask the folks in Potrero Hill, Parkmerced, and North Beach about the city’s plans to dislocate them, or crowd them out with tall buildings blocking their views. Then look at your own neighborhood and watch them rezone portions of it to lift height limits. Or, watch the efforts to turn your residential neighborhoods into mixed-use commercial and residential zones, so they can deny you residential parking rights and implant meters in front of your homes.
Do you want to restructure San Francisco into a high tech futuristic city devoid of views and historic buildings, or do you want to preserve what we have? That is the question voters need to concern themselves with. Who best represents your interests?
Supervisors and Candidates statements


In San Francisco, tech investor leads a political makeover

By Gerry Shih : reuters.com – excerpt

…””The tech industry is producing all the jobs in this city,” Conway snapped, according to four people present, his voice rising as he insisted that old-line businesses “need to get on board (by changing the tax code to favor the new technologies).”
In the end, they did get on board — and San Francisco voters on November 6 will decide whether to approve the change in the tax code…
Not everyone in this famously liberal city is enthused about the new tech boom, which is driving up rents and threatening to price out all but the wealthy.
“As someone who lived through the tech boom in the ’90s and watched countless friends and community members get pushed out of their homes, only for the bubble to disintegrate, this is painful to watch,” said Gabriel Haaland, political director for the SEIU Local 1021, the largest union in the city. “Those times are here again.”
Last month, when San Francisco Magazine published an article bemoaning tech-driven gentrification, traffic on the magazine’s website broke all records.
“It touched on an issue that people have been thinking about for a while,” said Jon Steinberg, the magazine’s editor…
In one instance this year, after social media company Pinterest moved to San Francisco, Conway pressed officials to repaint curbs to allow employee parking near the start-up’s offices, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. The city refused; Conway denied that the incident occurred… (more)

Neighbors want more input on Warriors arena proposal

By: Ari Burack : SFExaminer.com – excerpt

The Warriors may have forged a deal with Mayor Ed Lee for a new, privately financed arena along The City’s waterfront, but the team still faces the thorny city approval process and neighbors with many questions about a project initially presented as a foregone conclusion.

Supervisor Jane Kim — whose district includes the proposed site and who along with the rest of the Board of Supervisors has expressed support in principle for the development — introduced legislation Tuesday to set up a Citizens Advisory Committee to weigh in on the project…

The South Beach/Rincon/Mission Bay Neighborhood Association — representing one of the last major neighborhoods in The City yet to be fully developed — has not taken a formal position on the proposed site on Piers 30-32.

“We’ve never seen anything, any plans or architecture, so we still don’t have anything to react to,” association President Katy Liddell said. Her group has expressed “serious concerns” about adding an arena near AT&T Park, and the accompanying traffic, parking, crime and cleanliness issues…