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.

Potrero Parking Problems Continue to Circle

By Nikolas Zelinski : potreroview – excerpt

The San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (SFMTA) has yet to implement a cohesive parking plan for Potrero Hill or Dogpatch. A proposed approach, released in 2011, received strong negative reaction from San Franciscans, and was scrapped in late-2013.  The agency has yet to release a new version. 

The 2011 parking proposal encompassed the Hill, Dogpatch, Northeast Mission, and parts of South-of-Market.  It featured metered parking along 22nd, 23rd, and 17th streets, as well as the areas surrounding the University of California, San Francisco-Mission Bay campus. Community advocates roundly rejected the plan, insisting that it didn’t address the needs of local residents, most of whom preferred a residential permit system to meters.    

In the wake of the failed proposal, Potrero Boosters president J.R. Eppler has worked with SFMTA to create a new strategy. “At first our negotiations did not go well,” Eppler explained, “but they have started to go better…After all parties educated each other on needs and available options, we would come up with a verbal plan, and after a month or two, the SFMTA would come back with a plan that would miss 60 to 70 percent of the things that we’d talked about. We’ve been doing this for the last couple of years.” 

According to Eppler, local residents want a “finely grained mixture of existing parking tools. Done on a block by block basis. This includes parking meters in front of businesses that need quick turnover, residential parking permits for areas with homes and commercial spaces that might benefit from them, and time limits for other uncontrolled blocks to curb commuter parking.”

While Dogpatch and Showplace Square have faced the brunt of parking problems, San Francisco General Hospital personnel has seen a slight respite.  Since 2009, staff-only parking signs on Vermont Street, between 22nd and 23rd, were installed in response to construction at the hospital.  SFMTA manages the parking garage located at SFGH, and made the street parking agreement with the hospital, explained Andy Thornley, SFMTA senior analyst.  

“I still haven’t tracked down the legislative action that authorized that, but the enforcement division told me that a bit of Vermont was set up for hospital staff as a temporary solution during hospital construction, and presumably will return to general parking,” Thornley said. “That kind of parking is an exception. However there are precedents, such as the special permit parking in front of City Hall on Polk Street, between Grove Street and Hayes Street. However, the SFMTA does not manage those spaces. The space in front of the hospital is pretty unique because SF General is a City facility, and the Department of Public Health operates it, it’s definitely a special case. It’s not like we’re giving out public spaces to Google or Proctor & Gamble.” 

David Meckel, director of research and planning at the California College of the Arts, said he’s pleased to see the new 55-bus line run directly to the campus. “I actually think SFMTA has been pretty responsive, I think they’ve done as good as a job they can…Our main interaction with them was the oversized vehicle ordinance; and they did it, and it helped…I think the system works, but it takes a lot of public process.” Meckel was happy that SFMTA installed “no oversize parking” signs by the college to curb overnight camping, but noted that the signs merely moved the problem to another area. 

According to Thornley, SFMTA hopes to hold a public meeting on ways to address parking challenges in the Northeast Mission in the next couple of months. There are no public meetings planned for the Hill or Dogpatch… (more)

Lawsuit Halts Work on Mission Bay Loop

By Keith Burbank : Potreroview – excerpt

Last month a California Appeals Court halted work on the Mission Bay Loop project, a Third Street T-line turnaround that’s planned for 18th, 19th and Illinois streets.  The Loop would enable San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) trains traveling south to return downtown once they reach Dogpatch.  As part of the Central Subway project, the Loop is expected to operate during special events and peak travel times. The stay order has residents hopeful that SFMTA will reconsider the Loop’s location, to a point further south.

“We have won a battle and continue to fight to win the war,” said William Schwartz, a member of The Committee for the Reevaluation of the T-Line Loop. The First District Court of Appeal issued a stop work order that will remain in effect until a three-justice panel rules on the committee’s appeal for a preliminary injunction against SFMTA, which could take six months or longer. The injunction would force the agency to postpone work until after a trial.

SFMTA officials have repeatedly insisted that a loop south of the planned location isn’t feasible, citing three reasons: operation of light rail vehicles would be difficult because of steep street grades; parking, loading docks and driveways pose greater conflicts for vehicle operations further south; and SFMTA would face $4 million in additional annual operating costs and a $20 million outlay for new vehicles.  However, according to SFMTA chief spokesman Paul Rose, the agency will start receiving 175 new vehicles next year.  A portion of those will serve the T-Line, calling into question SFMTA’s $20 million new vehicle estimate.  

Dogpatch residents have proposed that the Loop be built at SFMTA’s Muni Metro East facility, located at 25th and Illinois streets.  According to Rose, the layout of the streets south of 23rd Street isn’t favorable for building a loop. 

Dogpatch resident Aaron Gavic raised a number of questions about the Loop in emails to SFMTA’s David Greenway, the Loop’s project manager. In response, Greenway said that by 2019 Dogpatch will have service equivalent to the N-Judah, the agency’s busiest rail line, representing a “significant increase over today’s service levels.” Rose said N-Judah trains are dispatched about every seven minutes during peak travel times; T-Line frequency during peak travel times is roughly every nine minutes.

According to Gavic, SFMTA’s reason for leaving the Potrero Kids at 3rd Street preschool out of the Loop’s environmental impact report is “very concerning.”  SFMTA said the effects of the Loop’s construction and operation on the preschool would be similar to impacts on La Scuola Internazionale di San Francisco, an elementary school located a block north of the planned loop. Potrero Kids at 3rd Street is steps from the planned loop  …

An aide to District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen said moving the Loop south of the planned location isn’t impossible, but it’d be more expensive and the City may lose $10 million in federal money for the project as a result of delays

A Dogpatch resident posted on Nextdoor that a group is raising money to continue the legal case against SFMTA. Four people have donated $200 to a gofundme.com account at http://www.gofundme.com/move_the_T_Loop. The Dogpatch and Potrero Boosters neighborhood associations have contributed money as well. “I think the whole neighborhood would like to see this thing changed,” said Bill Schwartz, a The Committee for the Reevaluation of the T-Line Loop member, whose name appears on the lawsuit… (more)

Pier 70 plan financing ‘complicated’

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Transforming 28 acres of rusted maritime space at Pier 70 into a new neighborhood with tech companies and more than 1,000 condo units will require “complicated” financing and more than $160 million to build new roads, three parking garages and a possible new Muni turnaround…
Pier 70 in the Dogpatch neighborhood is Port of San Francisco property, part of which is planned to be converted into housing and retail. Nearly all of the estimated $1.85 billion required to redevelop Pier 70 is coming from private capital raised by site developer Forest City, which built the Westfield San Francisco Centre shopping mall on Market Street…
The Port of San Francisco will need to come up with about $222 million via bond sales, according to Port documents. The bonds will pay for infrastructure improvements, including utility lines, transit improvements and other improvements like parks.
Exactly how the publicly funded side of Pier 70 will be financed — and how the Port plans to raise an additional $98 million that would build three parking garages on the site — has yet to be determined.
“There are challenges with this site,” Brad Benson, the Port’s project manager at Pier 70, told the Board of Supervisors on June 5. “It has very high infrastructure costs.”
The site is not well-served by public transportation, and it might require an “extension” of the T-Third Street line with a turnaround near 20th Street, Benson said.
Rezoning and planning alone will cost about $20 million, Port officials said… (more)

What is the rush? Why not finish one big public project before starting a new one?

Parking Expert: Underpriced Parking Permits Won’t Curb Cruising for Spots

by Aaron Bialick : sf.streetsblog.org  – excerpt

A lot of traffic in the northeast Mission consists of drivers cruising for parking spots. Motorists in the area circle for an average of 27 minutes in search of a free spot, according to the SF Municipal Transportation Agency, which has held community outreach meetings in recent months to develop a plan for new parking meters and permit restrictions to curb excess traffic in the neighborhood.
In response to fervent opposition to metered parking in the eastern neighborhoods, the SFMTA has pushed back its timeline for installing meters, devoting more attention to data collection and community feedback as it develops parking management plans. On March 21, the agency will present a proposal for the northeast Mission, before beginning the same process of community meetings in the Potrero Hill and Dogpatch neighborhoods…
In a recent interview, Jeff Tumlin, a principal at the transportation planning firm Nelson/Nygaard… told Streetsblog why RPP zones alone aren’t enough to manage demand. Tumlin is working as a consultant for the SFMTA on its eastern neighborhood parking management plans…. (more)

Tumlin was fired by the city of Santa Monica. Do we want to continue listening him and putting our faith in Nelson/Nygaard if they are responsible for the current state of traffic and parking in San Francisco, as they claim in their marketing materials?

Maybe it looks good on paper, but do you want to live with it?  Eastern Neighborhoods Transportation Implementation Planning Study (EN TRIPS)

Have traffic flow and parking conditions improved or gotten worse since SFMTA hired  Nelson/Nygaard?

Even though SFPark has not delivered any results from their experiment in congestion parking, they plan to  expand the unproven program. Let you Supervisor know how you feel about that.

Even Dr. Shoup, who devised the parking congestion theory, is back-pedaling on his claims.

SHOUP: If it works, it will make San Francisco an even better place to live and do business and visit. It will just be yet another feather in the cap of San Francisco. And if it doesn’t work, they can blame it all on a professor from Los Angeles.“… (more)

City drops consultant over NIMBY comment

Dogpatch and Potrero Hill Thick with New Developments

By Brian Rinker : Potrero View – excerpt

Although the 2007 recession temporarily halted most new construction in Dogpatch and Potrero Hill, since 2009 contemporary-style apartments and condominiums have been emerging in the neighborhoods at a steady pace. Mixed use projects that are in some development stage include 2051 Third Street, 2121 Third Street, 616 20th Street, 2235 Third Street, 650 Texas Street and 480 Potrero Avenue. “It’s been a slow steady drum beat,” said Susan Eslick, Dogpatch Neighborhood Association’s (DNA) vice-president.
According to Eslick, when she first moved to Tennessee Street in 1996 crack was being dealt nearby. Today, the drug dealers are gone, replaced by young families and gourmet restaurants. Development is inevitable, though it can be managed, said Eslick. “We are not afraid of development,” she said, “We just want good development.”…


GreenTrust SF Wants a Greener Dogpatch, Central Waterfront

SF parking meter plan inches ahead with assessment

By Rachel Gordon : SF Chronicle – excerpt

Organized resistance from a group of residents and business owners has successfully delayed – but not shelved – the city’s plans to install thousands of new curbside meters in four San Francisco neighborhoods.

“The city is going way too far, way too fast, and people are upset,” said Mari Eliza, a Mission District resident and organizer with Enuf, which stands for Eastern Neighborhoods United Front.

The organization’s goal is to disrupt the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s plans to blanket the city with more parking meters. There already are about 28,000 meters in operation in the city, and the agency had called for planting about 4,000 more spread throughout Potrero Hill, Dogpatch, the South of Market and the northeast Mission this year.

But right before the agency’s governing board was set to consider the expansion plan in early February, staff yanked it back amid people angry over the prospect of losing free parking in front of their buildings.

That outrage, along with pressure from City Hall, prompted agency officials to refine the proposal and work more closely with the affected communities. The outreach was scheduled to begin in April and wrap up in September.

Last week, San Francisco Transportation Director Ed Reiskin issued a new timeline, which now calls for concluding outreach in April 2013…

Reiskin promised that the concerns of the community would be incorporated into the revised expansion plan…

Supervisor Malia Cohen, who represents Dogpatch and Potrero Hill, said the city was right to slow things down.

“The plan was half-baked,” Cohen said. “Meters may have some benefits when we’re talking about merchant corridors, but can have real negative impacts on residents and some businesses.”


We thank Malia and other Supervisors who have supported residents in our efforts to stay in our homes and keep our businesses afloat during these tough times. ENUF and other groups are intent on finding alternative methods to parking meters to fund Muni.

Citizens Demand More Time to Evaluate SFMTA’s Meter Proposal

By Keith Burbank : Potrero View – excerpt

“Anti-parking meter advocates from Potrero Hill, Dogpatch and the Mission agree with the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency (SFMTA) that individual parking plans tailored for each neighborhood must be worked out separately. But advocates — organized as the Eastern Neighborhoods United Front (ENUF) — want the three plans to be jointly approved because all three neighborhoods share the same concerns and “a better parking management plan in Potrero Hill will help our neighbors in the Mission …” said Tony Kelly, an ENUF spokesman. According to Kelly, City agencies “often try to divide-and-conquer neighborhoods and opponents when attempting to force controversial projects. We feel we are stronger when we are together.” ENUF is also concerned that SFMTA’s primary goal in deploying meters is to raise revenues, rather than improve parking management…

Questions remain about the immediate need for parking management interventions. Two mid-day, middle of the week, informal surveys of Dogpatch and Mission Bay conducted by the View indicated that sufficient parking was available, though finding a spot in Dogpatch can take several minutes, depending on the block.”