Thursday, August 1, 2013

Notes from Corbett Heights Meeting - July 25

Corbett Heights Meeting Notes - July 25, 2013

Between 25 - 30 people showed up for last Thursday's meeting.

I'd like to thank all of the people who distributed the fliers: Larry Dresner, Philip Byland, Janice Low, Rick Johnson, Kevin Dunn, Pat Hufford, Kathy & Hank Flanders and Leslie and John Koelsch. Greatly appreciated!!

Membership Dues: Earlier this year we started accepting membership dues via PayPal on our website ( If you haven't paid for a while or would like to join, annual membership is $15 per year per household. Besides being used for flier printing and snacks for garden workdays, the money is used to purchase plants, any garden equipment and irrigation supplies we may need to take care of our various mini-parks.

We currently have ~96 members who have paid through 2012-2013. Our bank balance is just under $2,000.


AT&T BOXES: I put together a to-scale example of the AT&T utility boxes that are proposed for our sidewalks. It was enormous - 59" wide X 48" high X 26" deep. The proposal is to place them within 300 feet of almost every existing AT&T box on our sidewalks - previously 726 of them. I understand the number is now fewer. They are to be painted a very pale green - perfectly inviting for graffiti "artists" - and they buzz all day long - similar to the sound of an electric toothbrush, according to Marc Blakeman, the AT&T rep.

Just a little history of the system AT&T uses:

In the 1880s Alexander Graham Bell invented what's referred to as POTS - plain old telephone service. The system uses what's called "twisted pair". One wire goes from the caller, the other goes back.

Fiber optic is a superior option in that it can carry multiple times the data in a tiny thread. It can also carry the signal for huge distances with no degradation.

The problem with AT&T's Uverse plan is that rather than going directly to the door, it would go to the new boxes and stop there. From there to the door, they would continue to rely on Alexander Graham Bell's twisted pair. Because of this, the maximum speed of the data being transferred would be about 1/5 of what Comcast (which spent tens of billions on their infrastructure) already has in place.

Just as an aside - my partner/husband has an art studio. He had AT&T service for many years. AT&T required that he have a landline for his DSL connection. He just recently switched to Monkey Brains ISP. His download speed is now more than 36 times faster than AT&T, upload speed is more than 151 times faster. The landline is no longer necessary. The cost: a flat $35/month. And humans answer the phones!

This - from a member of Corbett Heights Neighbors who works for Google: "Wireless technology is on the verge of surpassing (and for some aplications, has already surpassed) wired networks in terms of efficacy, and San Francisco should not have to 'bail out' AT&T by accepting this blight as a result of its inability to compete."

And for those whose concern is that there is no competition, and that Comcast is the only game in town, here is a partial list of the competition that offers wireless or fiber optic internet service:

MonkeyBrains, WebPass, Astound, Sonic, Clearwire and Comcast. Check out "internet service providers" on Yelp and see where AT&T comes in.

Marc Blakeman of AT&T spoke about its program and plans. According to Ed Lee - our mayor - who at the time (2005) was the director of DPW, all utilities were instructed to make every effort to have their SMF's (surface-mounted facilities) go either underground or on private property. None of the Uverse boxes have been placed underground, and although Mr. Blakeman insisted that a few have gone on private property, he was unable to come up with locations.

Corbett Heights Neighbors members submitted dozens of letters in opposition to these boxes being placed in our neighborhood. We also voted twice - both times all but a couple of people voted the same way - to oppose.

We were told - in no uncertain terms - that if a neighborhood decides against having these boxes installed, it would not get them. The same message was stated in front of the Board of Supervisors during a hearing 2 years ago. Now AT&T is trying to put these boxes in Corbett Heights despite the promise. The reason given? "Things change."

Monkey Brains: The founder and another representative of Monkey Brains spoke next at our meeting. Rather than needing to install an enormous refrigerator-sized box on the sidewalk in order to provide service, they install a very small receptor on your roof, and a cable into your house. They can provide service to most parts of Corbett Heights. Check them out - call

415-974-1313. Marci will probably answer the phone on the first ring.

Kearstin Krehbiel, executive director of SF Beautiful: spoke next about their work - from fighting billboards to leading the fight against AT&T's giant utility boxes. Please check their website to get an idea of all that they do:

Mike Sallaberry of SFMTA's Livable Streets Division spoke to us about street calming. Regarding 17th Street, a number of neighbors were unhappy with the median at the top of Corbin Stairs. What the plan is for the future is to install a "traffic pillow" in a couple of places. These are humps in the street - rather than the more common bumps which cause vehicles to bounce - disturbing residents of the street. They would also possibly install a 2nd speed radar sign, improved crosswalks and a sign farther uphill warning of the "pillows" up ahead.

Tom Murphy has been speaking with MTA about doing a study of the Mars/Corbett and the Mars/17th intersections - hopefully to come up with a plan to add some safety feature(s). As it is it's extremely dangerous to cross the street in those places.

Jon Golinger, past president of Telegraph Hill Dwellers, and Manager of the "No Wall on the Waterfront" campaign spoke about the proposal to build on the site of 8 Washington St - near Levi Plaza on the Embarcadero. The current zoning allows for a maximum of 84' in height along the waterfront. The proposal, which was approved by the Board of Supervisors, and opposed by the Sierra Club and other neighborhood and environmental groups, would allow for this massive luxury condominium project to rise to 136'. Just for reference, the old Embarcadero freeway was 70' high.

Opponents have collected 31,000 signatures to get a proposition on this November's ballot. Because of this, the proponents went ahead and collected enough signatures to put a supporting proposition on the ballot. Please check out the website:

History Project: The Corbett Heights historical context statement (History Project) should be complete by the end of September. We have a rich collection of photos, maps, and drawings -- more than we expected to find, but no doubt others will turn up throughout the rest of the project. The research is largely complete on the development of the neighborhood, its streets, alleys, stairways, blocks, and lots; its early settlers and developers; plans for development; its builders and building types; its transit and automobile history; its industries (quarries and brickworks); its links to the rest of the city (Twin Peaks Tunnel and the Auxiliary Water Supply System); its residents; its church (only one!); and more.

When the project has been completed, submitted and approved we will begin the process of putting together the book which will be based on the Project. Anyone who has experience with publishing or who would like to participate in it should let me know.

And - thank you all who contributed!!!!! We exceeded our goal by a couple hundred dollars.

(And apologies for the delay in cashing your checks, sending thank yous and issuing tax-deductible letters for those who made your check payable to the SF Study Center.)

Corbett Slope: In May we had a cleanup/planting day on the Slope. If you go by you'll notice a bunch on new plants - shrubs, flowering plants and vines. They're all visible from the street. AND - Chris McGuire installed an irrigation system that works on a timer.

If you'd like to be involved in any way with the Slope, please let me know. There are so many possibilities...

Also, a design plan by DPW for a new concrete short wall with catchment fence along the exposed rock area on Market Street is being developed. It is anticipated that construction can take place this fall. Additionally, "rock slope scaling and removal" will also be included in the work scope. Some of the vegetation and debris that has been an eyesore along Market will be removed.

I have a copy of the site topographic survey that was done by DPW engineers. Let me know if you'd like a copy.

Corbett Heights' Parks/Parkettes: We are fortunate to have 9 green spaces in the neighborhood. The majority are in desperate need of maintenance. If you're interested in helping any of them out here are some options to consider:

- I have a good supply of tools, composting bags, gloves, etc. If you would like to spearhead a cleanup day of any of the parks, I can send out a notice.

- You can sign up as a caretaker (among others) of a particular site. This way, we can call for a work day on a day when you are available. There hopefully would be many others on the list.

- And as an option, if you live near a neglected area and aren't interested in working on it, you can consider paying a monthly/yearly fee so that we can hire someone to do the cleanup.

Let me know if you'd like to be a part of any or all groups, and/or want to consider one of the options above. Here's a list of the parks:

Ord Triangle Park (Ord/Corbett/17th St)

Corbin Stairs (connecting Corbett & 17th near 200 Corbett)

Merritt Park (Market/Danvers/Merritt)

Mars Park (soon to get a complete makeover - Mars/Corbett)

Sweetgum Corner (Mars/17th St)

Corbett Slope (Corbett on the 300 block, connecting with Market)

Al's Park (also in the 300 block of Corbett - public right-of-way AKA 19th St)

Clayton Green Space (Clayton betw Market and Corbett - the ivy desert)

Clayton/Corbett Park (Corner Clayton/Corbett)

75 Mars: The new Mars Stairway connecting Mars and Corbett was approved by DPW. After an appeal by a neighbor on Mars St., the basis for the objection was rejected and the project was again approved.

3198 Market: After preparing to fight an extremely frightening project that would have all but eliminated Al's Park, we seem to be in the clear - for now. The almost-project sponsor appears to have backed out. The inaccessible lot remains for sale.

Castro Street Sidewalk Widening: Will begin in early 2014. The hope is for it to be finished by the Castro Street Fair in early October.

Market Street Projects:

400 Castro: With Diesel gone, and the proponents of the strip club - Randy Rooster - having given up, several other businesses have expressed interest. At this time, though, no taker has been identified.

376 Castro (RC Station): The plan (approved for the most part by several neighborhood groups) is to build a 65' tall structure (72' at the corner). There will be 19 2-bedroom and 5 1-bedroom units, and parking for 14 cars. Completion ~ 2016 after environmental cleanup.

2299 Market (Church Pit): Almost complete. 18 market rate homes: 8 1-bedroom, 9 2-bedroom, 1 3-bedroom. Anchor tenant will be Bank of the West. There will be 3 tiny storefronts on the Noe St. side. The building is being marketed as IconSF. Many beg to differ.

CVS - 2280 Market St. (formerly Tower Records): Approved by the Planning Commission. The Dept has recommended approval despite their recent plan to try and prevent any formula retail in the area that exceeds 20% within 300' of any other formula retail on this stretch of Market. Entrance and elevator will be moved to front and recessed area will be eliminated. New siding and windows will be installed. It will be 6900 square feet of retail space.

They will take the entire ground floor minus the Radio Shack. 2nd floor is still unspoken for. Many recommend that it be turned into offices.

2175 Market (76 Station): 88 rental units planned. 18,500 square feet of ground floor retail. This project is well underway. The height will be 65' along Market.

Starbucks/Chipotle: With tremendous opposition from residents and the business community, Starbucks' attempt to go into the current "Industrialists" store on Market at Sanchez, as well as Chipotle's attempt to occupy the old "Home" restaurant on Market/Church/14th were both defeated by the Planning Commission. Formula Retail (chain stores) businesses will have an increasingly difficult time trying to move into the Upper Market Commercial District.

2198 Market (Shell Station/Xmas tree lot): The property has been leased for 100 years to a developer that intends to build 87 (52 1 bedroom, 35 2 bedroom) units above 4000 square feet of commercial space. The units will all be rentals. It will be 7 stories high - 81' at the corner if their plan is approved. 40' on Sanchez.

(The triple-wide trailer onsite actually belongs to the developer of the project at Market and Buchanan. He is leasing the space until a model apartment has been made available.)

2200 Market St (Leticia's/Thai House/Happy Boy): 22 units. 55' high - 5 stories above ground floor retail - most likely a restaurant.

2001 Market St (Whole Foods) (formerly S&C Ford): 85' tall, 82 units. Half will be 2-bedroom, half 3-bedroom. Completion expected this fall.

1844 Market Street (Sue Mills): 113 or 114 units, 85' high. Project well underway. 5600 square feet of ground floor retail.

76 Station: 1960 Mkt – by Buchanan/Mint. 118 units - condos – 85 feet tall. 8150 square feet of ground floor retail. 2014 completion.

8 Octavia Blvd.(at Market): 8 stories/49 units/ground floor retail. Building is well under way.

Please consider having a greater involvement in our community. If you have an interest and a bit of time to help out, please let me know.

Thanks for your interest in our neighborhood!

- Gary