Wednesday, May 2, 2018

NOTES FROM CORBETT HEIGHTS MEETING - APRIL 26, 2018

NOTES FROM CORBETT HEIGHTS MEETING - APRIL 26, 2018

The meeting was called to order at 7:05PM.

Many thanks for the folks who helped distribute the fliers for the meeting: Ted Teipel, Kathy & Hank Flanders, Kazumi Matsuyama, Bill Prince, Janice Low, Rick Johnson, Kevin Dunn, Grace Gellerman, Phil Byland, Nancy Peoples, Bill Holtzman and Pat Hufford.

Garrett Robertson, our Parks Coordinator, gave us some updates on the state of our parks. He's spearheaded the monthly street park cleanups in our neighborhood. Usually on the 2nd Saturday of each month, they focus on a different park each time. We'll send out a notice alerting you ahead of time to which one will be spruced up.

If you have an interest in helping out, please let me know - I'll forward your contact into to Garrett. Even if you don't lend a hand, please stop by and say hello!

Corbett Slope: DPW agreed to host a meeting to discuss the current status of The Slope. It was on April 5th, and was held at the Randall Museum. We sent a notice around and others were posted onsite.

The purpose was to clarify the project, explain delays, confirm support for the future stairway and warn us of some pretty major upcoming sidewalk work about to take place.

Here's a bit of a breakdown:

As you know, the city works at a dead snail's pace. It's been a year since they finally installed the planter and the upper concrete platform. A month or so ago soil and mulch was delivered. The soil only filled up about half of the boxes. More should be delivered in the coming weeks - or months. They've also agreed to provide a bunch of new California native plants. Almost all of the dozens of plants that are now thriving on The Slope were donated by Slope neighbor and horticulturist Jake Shogren who grew them from seed or cuttings.

At this point we cannot plant anything until DPW's work is complete and they hand it over.

Everyone in attendance at the meeting was in full support of the stairway that will connect Corbett to Market. It's been a very long process. In all of the years of discussing the stairway, we've encountered almost unanimous support for this project. It is slated for this year's budget.

The sidewalk issue is pretty serious. Many decades ago there were 2 houses at the west end of The Slope - both were moved to Mars St. The foundations are still visible. When they replaced the sidewalk last year, they realized that without the homes' support, the old sidewalks were just floating in air. The replacements on the western half are temporary. The plan is to bury at least 12 pilings - each 20 feet deep and a few feet in diameter - to support a new sidewalk.

Of course, no-parking signs will be posted for much longer than necessary. The work is supposed to go on for less than a month - we'll see.

More on this as soon as we have dates.


I explained at the beginning of the meeting that our Board's intention was to have each of the assumed 2 frontrunners in the Mayoral campaign address Corbett Heights Neighbors. Mark Leno spoke in January. It became clear that both London Breed and Jane Kim were part of what is now a three-way race. As it turned out, a forum was scheduled in Golden Gate Park at exactly the same time as our meeting. Jane Kim's office responded several times saying that she would attempt to race over to the meeting afterwards. London Breed's office never responded to several attempts to communicate.


Our first speaker was Supervisor Jeff Sheehy.

Supervisor Sheehy was appointed by Mayor Ed Lee to fill out Scott Wiener's term when he was elected to the Senate. Supervisor Sheehy is in a tight race with Rafael Mandelman for this June's election. The two will likely run for a full term this November.

One of his first accomplishments as Supervisor was to make our Interim Zoning Controls permanent by sponsoring the Corona Heights Large Residence Special Use District (SUD). As you've heard me say several times, this has become the envy of every other neighborhood.

He's also co-sponsored Prop D which would tax large businesses, ultimately reaping $1 Billion over the next 10 years. The goal if passed would have $450 Million go towards getting the 23,000 homeless off the streets; $350 Million for middle income housing; $100 Million for low income housing for seniors; and $90 Million for homeless youth programs.

He's also sponsored bike chop shop legislation, and worked on immigration legal assistance.

Someone in the room mentioned not having seen a police cruiser in Corbett Heights for a very long time. The supervisor said he'd check on that.

Senate Bill 827 (Wiener) was brought up. This bill, described later, was loved by housing advocates and real estate interests, and despised by just about everyone else. On April 3rd there was to be a non-binding vote by the Board of Supervisors to support or oppose the bill. I worked with a huge group of neighborhood advocates in an attempt to lobby Supervisors to vote to oppose this bill. A vote to oppose would follow in the footsteps of Los Angeles and a great number of other jurisdictions and organizations across the State. As it turned out the Board did vote to oppose. Unfortunately Supervisor Sheehy was one of 3 who voted to support the bill.


Our next speaker was Former Mayor Art Agnos.

Mayor Agnos last addressed Corbett Heights Neighbors in January of 2014. He's now 80 years old, and, after open heart surgery 2 years ago is still going strong. He was Mayor from 1988 - 1992. He's best remembered as the one who pushed for the Embarcadero to come down, although that was one of many accomplishments during his term.

He stressed the importance of the upcoming election, saying that the results will determine the type of San Francisco we will have in the future. He very strongly supports Mark Leno for Mayor, pointing out his strength, courage, experience and care for San Francisco.

Art moved to San Francisco in his early 20s. Growing up in Springfield, MA, the son of Greek immigrants, his family was always considered low class, and due to their lack of familiarity with the English language they were constantly discriminated against (sound familiar?) He arrived here with hopes of experiencing the freedom and opportunity that he lacked in his home town.

He bought a 2-unit building on Potrero Hill in 1976 for an outlandish $55,000. His 35-year-old son still lives in the 2nd unit, He pointed out that a Mayor's son cannot afford his own place to live in San Francisco.

He strongly feels that we should be building more housing that could benefit our existing residents, pointing out 2 projects in the Mission Bay/AT&T Park area that will provide thousands of additional units, 30-40% of which will be BMR (below market rate) - more than double the required rate.

He discussed the homeless issue that existed back during his administration. He said there were between 500 - 900 homeless at the time. In 1988 two Multi-Service Centers (similar to today's Navigation Centers) were opened. The Loma Prieta Earthquake slowed down the process, as a large number of SROs in SOMA were no longer habitable. They ended up providing shelter to the 500 homeless on an old Navy ship for two weeks.

He then proceeded to tell his Mother Theresa story as told in January, 2014:

Former Mayor Art Agnos and Mother Teresa:

Since we usually start a few minutes late to allow for latecomers, or parking diffculties, Mayor Agnos, who arrived promptly at 7 decided to tell a story - completely unrelated to the topic he was there to discuss. (This, I must admit, was the best part of the meeting!)

During his time as mayor, when he and his wife, Sherry, were living on Twin Peaks, he was always accompanied by bodyguards. One Sunday evening around 8:30PM, Mr. Agnos went out to the corner store, and when he returned his wife greeted him at the door and said: "Mother Teresa is upstairs!!!" He of course thought she was joking, but when he got to the living room there was Mother Teresa and 3 nuns waiting for him to return. He asked to what he owed the honor and she told him that he needed to get the city to give a particular building to her Missionaries of Charity as a homeless shelter. It was a brick building on the corner of Fillmore and Turk, it was owned by the city and it was vacant.
She would only be in SF until the next morning, so they needed to go then - at 8:30 on Sunday night - to check out the building.
He called for his bodyguards since Sherry wanted to go along and help. When they arrived at the building there were no markings or obvious points of entry so they walked around to the back of the building. Since the neighborhood was pretty sketchy back then, and it was nighttime, they were a bit concerned when they came upon 8 or 9 homeless African American guys standing around a fire they made to keep warm. When they cautioned Mother Teresa about the potential danger she said: "Don't worry, God will protect us". As they approached the men instantly recognized Mother Teresa. She gave them each a medal and blessed them. Mayor Agnos told them they were hoping to set up a homeless shelter there.
Since the building was in great disrepair they ended up converting another building nearby.
When they arrived back at the car and were saying goodbyes, the Mayor asked Mother Teresa:
"Do you often go to other mayors' homes at 8:30 on a Sunday night and ask for a city building for a homeless shelter?" Mother Teresa responded: "The last mayor was Mayor Koch of NYC.
He has a much nicer house than you do!" (The NYC mayor traditionally lives in Gracie Mansion, the huge estate built in 1799.)
Mayor Agnos then told her: "you know, Mother, I don't do these things for free - I need a favor back. My wife Sherry is working on a project with mothers who are addicted to crack cocaine - trying to get them off crack. Now it's 10PM. I called the hospital to let them know I'll be arriving soon with Mother Teresa to see the new born babies. She blessed the babies and then proceeded to the AIDS ward. By this time everyone in the hospital knew that the mayor was in the hospital with Mother Teresa. They were so excited to see her, that a crowd of about 100 formed around them. Mother Teresa told them all: "When you all die and go to heaven, God will be there waiting for you". Of course, with a majority of the people who work at the hospital being Catholic, this had quite an impact.
She left for Latin America the following morning, but continued to visit once or twice a year.

Upper Terrace/Roosevelt/17th Street Project:

The Environmental Review, after about 2 years, is supposed to be released this week. The instability of the hillside is likely the primary reason that this has taken so long. To repeat, other issues being addressed in the review are:

- Noise during construction would exceed allowable levels;

- Dust is said to contain toxic levels of silica which would be blown around the neighborhood during construction;

- Danger of structural damage to adjacent buildings.

They've reduced the square footage by a slight fraction - mostly on the 2-unit structure on Upper Terrace which must remain rent-controlled.

A Planning Commission hearing date will likely be in late fall.

In a separate notice I'll be sending a request for you to submit letters to the Planning Department expressing your support or opposition to this project.


48 Saturn:

The same developers who have built an alarming number dismaying projects in our neighborhood were at it again with this proposal. As you are going east on Saturn from Temple Street, just before the bend when the street becomes Lower Terrace, you will see an astoundingly steep rock and dirt hill on your left. There is - to everyone's surprise - a vacant lot there. It's only 53' deep - straight up. The plan was for 4 stories above garage - totaling 4100 square feet. The five-story stucture would be 50' tall in a 40' zone. They said that this top floor would be allowed due to the fact that the fifth floor would be no more than 40' above the grade up the hill. The Planning Commission rejected it and asked that they do two things: add a second unit, and work with the neighbors to try and come up with a plan that could be supported. After many backs and forth, they agreed

to remove the top floor and add a second unit. The Commission approved the new plan.

17 Temple:

Built in 1890, this 900+ square foot cottage was sold a few years ago. The new owner - big surprise - wanted to expand it astromonically. We fought this and after several meetings the owner agreed to reduce the scale to a level that all neighbors could accept. But the permit requested was for a "remodel". You've seen these remodels all over town. A once attractive old building is expanded beyond recognition - leaving a few scraps of wood somewhere unnoticed.

The problem with the system is that since the demolition process can add a year to a project and tens of thousands of dollars, most developers opt to remodel. Very generally this means that half of the vertical and half of the horizontal must remain.

But once construction is about to begin, the Dept. of Building Instpection (DBI) comes along and, using its own conflicting code book, orders a whole bunch of changes. This happens after neighborhood input, after the Planning Dept. and Commission has signed off on it.

In this case, DBI said that the orignal 2X4 joists, not only weren't waterproofed, but needed to be 2X6s in order to support the additional floors. So they removed the front and back for horizontal expansion in both directions, removed the floor because they were excavating, removed the ceiling/roof since they were expanding vertically, and then proceeded to remove most of the side walls since they weren't in compliance with DBI's codes.

This project - along with several other ostensible demolitions - are being used as examples of what must change.

First, both departments MUST abide by the same guidelines. Second, the guidelines MUST be much stricter. And third, as existing homes are 30-40% less expensive than new homes, these guidelines MUST protect current and future tenants from continuing to be priced out of their homes.

I'm involved in a group called the San Francisco Land Use Coalition which includes neighborhood leaders from across the city. Demolition is one of the main issue we're working on.


Scott Wiener's Senate Bills 827 & 828 - introduced in January 2018.

The following pair of bills, sponsored by Senator Wiener declare war on neighborhood input on housing projects, and despite its attempt to dramatically increase housing in San Francisco and throughout the state, there is no provision for increasing funding for infrastructure: no addional money for schools, police, parks, public transit - just to name a few. So if thousands of $2 Million homes appear, what is the likelihood that the people who buy them will take the 24 Divisadero, or the 22 Fillmore, or squeeze into the underground during rush hour? We will see a doubling of Uber and Lyft on our streets. 

We're safe for now as SB 827 was soundly rejected. But it will be back. Following is a more intensive description of what we would have experienced had the bill passed.


A UCLA Anderson School of Management reported that a 20% increase in the number of homes will result in 10% reduction in price.

We have ~ 360K dwellings;

20% increase means adding 72,000 new homes.

Adding 72,000 new homes will only bring down price by 10%.

Translation: At best, a $2 Million home would/could be $1.8 Million.


Myths:

Greater use of land means more value to land;

More value of land means homes on that land will be more expensive;

More expensive land also means diminshed ability for the City to finance Affordable Housing Projects;

Upzoning Eastern neighborhoods (allowing for more units per lot/greater density) did NOT result in lower home prices.

SB 827 requires or provides NO funding for increased demand on infrastructure: water, sewer, utilities, public transit systems, schools, police, fire, other emergency services, emergency medical response.

    Environmental impact:

  • Increased traffic congestion, decreased air quality, decreased mid block open space, diminished general quality of life and livability.

    Transit Impact:

  • Increased congestion, parking will be even WORSE.

  • Increased density does NOT increase ridership.

    Tenant Impact:

  • More to gain from the land translates into greater incentive to do away with pesky tenants: Renovations, buyouts, Ellis Act evictions, higher rents.

The State Density Bonus passed last year drastically increases allowable square footage per lot with no requirement to add additional BMR (Below Market Rate) units. This is yet another gift to developers.

No limit to number of dwellings they can squeeze into the building envelope - - one massive single family house or 100 shoe boxes.

No design guidelines;

No judgment by a public official (Planning Dept or Commission cannot pipe in);

No neighborhood input.

What will disappear: 40' height limit, mass limit, number of units per lot limit, minimum parking requirements. Prohibits enforcement of any design standard that restricts the applicant's ability to construct the maximum number of units.

SB 828:

RHNA: All California cities have quotas for new home construction called Regional Housing Needs Allocation.

San Francisco exceeds the RHNA quota for market rate, but not BMR.

If RHNA goals are not met:

Wiener's new law that took effect 1/18 forces any city that doesn't meet its RHNA goals to allow ALL construction to become "by-right".

By-right development is the right to build what you want and where you want it. Deregulates housing aproval process and takes away the public's right to weigh in on development projects.

No CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act); no design review, no neighborhood notification, no ability to request Discretionary Review.

If 828 were to pass:

By-right development for the entire city;

Carte blanche to anyone who wants to build anything anywhere;

No Environmental Reviews; No Residential Guidelines (a critical document referenced in every project before Planning); No Special Use Districts (SUDs);

Our new Corona Heights Special Use District would disappear;

Inability to weigh in on projects next door;

Silences the voice of the neighborhood.

And last, at our next meeting on July 26 we will be holding CHN Board elections. If you have an interest in participating more in your community, please let me know!

Thank you for your interest in the neighborhood!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Corbett Heights Meeting

CORBETT HEIGHTS MEETING

Our quarterly meeting will be on
Thursday, April 26th - 7PM

501 Castro at 18th Street, 2nd Floor, above BofA
 



We have lined up some great speakers for our meeting on April 26th.

Supervisor Jeff Sheehy will be there to discuss his accomplishments as our Supervisor, and his intentions if elected in June.

Former Mayor Art Agnos will attend to discuss the importance of the upcoming election in San Francisco.  When he last spoke with us in January, 2014 he had the whole room captivated by his stories of his time as Mayor.

We'll also have many updates on the neighborhood parks, development projects and citywide issues that will impact Corbett Heights.

You'll receive more details as the date approaches.

Hope to see you there!

Corbett Heights Neighbors Board

(Please let me know if you are able to help distributing fliers.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

RAMPANT DEMOLITION IN SF - YOU CAN HELP



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DEMOLITIONS GONE AWRY 

Controls are possible in the near future - with your help.

 



My apologies for sending out a second email on the same day - but it appears that we're being bombarded with either bad legislation or very bad actors in the Planning Department and the Department of Building Inspection.

My earlier email about SB 827 & 828 goes before the Senate Housing Committee NEXT TUESDAY, APRIL 17th! If it fails to pass at that time, it may be a while before it's brought back to life in another bill or in another form.

But this email is about demolition, and the lack of any real protection or prevention. 
As I mentioned recently, developers of 17 Temple Street, a very small cottage built in 1890 received entitlements to "remodel" the structure four years ago.  The Planning Department's definition of demolition - very generally - is that half of the structure would be removed. 

After noticing that all but parts of two walls remained, I communicated with several members, in several capacities, within both Planning and Building Inspection.  All said that it didn't meet the criteria for demolition.  Then, when the south wall was also removed, I was sure they would change their determination.  Even after one small section of one small wall remains - and is surrounded by all new material - they are still trying to convince the public that it's not a demolition. 
For another project elsewhere in the city, a neighborhood advocate was told that a similar situation didn't amount to being considered a demolition, but merely a "building removal". 

I've been meeting with several neighborhood leaders and Supervisors of Districts 1 and 3 to try and come up with ideas on how to change the current system.  At our last general membership meeting in January, Mark Leno discussed rebuilding the two departments from scratch.

A very rare event is taking place this coming Thursday, April 12th, starting at 10AM in Room 400, City Hall.  It is a Joint Hearing of the City Planning Commission AND the Building Inspection Commission.  The reason this is happening is that there has been unprecedented public outrage and an enormous amount of press coverage about these demolitions.  Attend if you're able.  We should probably each get 2 minutes to speak.

Below are before and after photos of 17 Temple.  You may not feel that this is a very special home - despite its age.  But this is only a recent example of what is happening throughout the city to some breathtaking examples of homes that ordinarily make you feel proud to be a San Franciscan.

Gary Weiss
Corbett Heights Neighbors










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SENATE BILLS 827 & 828 (WIENER)



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SB 827

How it would affect San Francisco

SENATOR WIENER'S SENATE BILLS 827:

 

Scott Wiener, as supervisor, did several outstanding things that greatly benefited our neighborhood and our city.  As Senator his actions are coming from another place altogether.  

Opposition to SB 827 has grown dramatically since it was introduced in January. Opponents now include the City of Los Angeles, former SF Mayor Art Agnos, the Sierra Club, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (who voted to oppose it last week by 8 - 3). In addition, three out of the four of the main mayoral candidates - Mark Leno, Jane Kim and Angela Alioto - oppose the bill. Only London Breed views it favorably.

From a group effort by neighborhood associations across the city, including politically diverse groups such as Presidio Heights, Cow Hollow, Telegraph Hill, Tenants Rights Associations, Chinatown Community Development Center, the Coalition for SF Neighborhoods, the SF Sierra Club and a few dozen others, the following are excerpts from a letter drafted for and presented to the SF Board of Supervisors ahead of their vote last week on whether to support or oppose this bill:

We the undersigned residents and organizations represent communities across the city, rich and poor, tenant and homeowner, newcomers and oldtimers. We stand together with others across the state to urge defeat of SB 827 (Wiener) in any form. This bill unilaterally takes away the opportunity of residents in every part of this city to participate in basic decisions about the livability and sustainability of our communities. It is fundamentally and irreparably flawed.

SB 827 forces a top-down, one-size fits all strategy that will destabilize the character of many of our neighborhoods almost overnight, revoking power from our district supervisors and planning departments, and silencing the public input on new development -- input that can and has resulted in more affordability, more jobs, and stronger communities.

In the name of 'transit-friendly housing', SB 827 undermines the ability of the most transit-friendly city in the state to plan and support our publicly-financed transit system.  We have one of the morst intensive public transit system in the country, not because politicians in Sacramento mandated it, but because our residents voted to support and pay for it.

In the name of affordability, it rewards real estate speculators with enormous windfalls and weakens our city's ability to incentivize and create more affordable housing.  While it includes limited protections for tenants who are directly displaced by new market rate projects, it completely fails to address indirect displacement caused by rising real estate prices and higher rents.

Furthermore, SB 827 incentivizes the destruction of existing commercial buildings, and will contribute to the displacement of current neighborhood-serving businesses that are the cultural and economic core of our diverse neighborhoods, adding to the widespread cultural displacement many of our communities are already experiencing.

 

In addition to the direct and physical harm it would cause to our neighborhoods, SB 827 would more generally undermine our democratic processes and ability to protect the environment. By overriding local planning and environmental requirements, SB 827 would also override our city's efforts to be sustainable. If the bill is adopted, new growth would be imposed by developers at almost any city location of their choosing, increasing demands on existing water and sewer systems, roads, utilities, schools, parks, and other public services and infrastructure.

Such developments would be approved with minimal public review, without full disclosure or analysis of impacts, and without consideration of more sustainable and environmentally sound alternatives.


Following are 2 links to the text of the bill.  The first is the original bill submitted in January; the second is a later version after numerous amendments.  


https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB827 


 

SB 828

Lasting Impacts on San Francisco

SENATOR WIENER'S SENATE BILLS 828:

 
SB 828 is the special interest's quiet revolution to make all home construction in San Francisco and California "by-right" *.  All California cities have quotas for new home construction called Regional Housing Needs Allocation or RHNA for short.  San Francisco currently meets and exceeds its RHNA quota for market-rate BUT NOT for below-market-rate housing.  In fact almost no city in California meets its quota for building below-market-rate housing.
 
But what's the consequence for not meeting RHNA goals?
 
Up until January, 2018, there was no price to pay and pretty much no consequences for not meeting RHNA goals BUT Senator Wiener's new law that took effect just this past January (SB 35) forces any city that doesn't meet its RHNA goals to let ALL construction become by-right.  If San Francisco doesn't meet its RHNA goals, ALL construction will become by-right in this City.
 
* What is by-right construction?
 
It's the right to build what you want and where you want it.  It deregulates the housing approval process and takes away public's right to weigh in on development projects.  This means:
 
·        NO CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act)
·        NO Environmental Impact Review
·        NO Residential Design Guidelines 
·        NO Neighborhood Specific Design Guidelines such as Corona Heights Large Residence Special Use District...
·        NO Neighborhood Notification
·        NO Discretionary Review
·        NO Conditional Use Authorization
·        NO Board of Appeals
 
In this regard, SB828 is a Trojan Horse for by-right development.  Why? Because this legislation increases San Francisco's RHNA goals to new levels and forces Senator Wiener's new law that ushers by-right development to kick in.  This will result in carte blanche for speculators to build anything anywhere in the City while eliminating neighborhood's ability to weigh in.  In effect, this bill would silence the voice of neighborhoods.  






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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Fwd: [Test] Corbett Slope Community Park - Meeting



Begin forwarded message:

From: Corbett Heights Neighbors <gary@corbettheights.org>
Subject: [Test] Corbett Slope Community Park - Meeting
Date: April 3, 2018 at 7:42:33 PM PDT

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Community Meeting about the 

Corbett Slope Community Park

 



Please join Corbett Heights Neighbors and SF Public Works for an overview of planned sidewalk, utility and roadway infrastructure improvements at the Corbett Slope Community Park. 

Public Works will also provide updated plans for a new public stairway that will connect Market Street to Corbett Avenue.

The park entrance is located at 333 Corbett Avenue, between Mars and Clayton. 

The meeting will take place on Thursday, April 5th, 7 - 8PM at
the Randall Museum, Buckley-Redwood Room.


Join us!

- Corbett Heights Neighbors



 






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