Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Notes from Corbett Heights Meeting

Corbett Heights Meeting Notes - October 24, 2013

There were about 30 people who showed up for last Thursday's meeting.

I'd like to thank all of the people who distributed the fliers: Larry Dresner, Ted Teipel, Janice Low, Rick Johnson, Kevin Dunn, Kazumi Matsuyama, Barbara Presta, Michaeline Kiss, 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.


Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu, who attended our meeting earned a master's degree in public policy from UC Berkeley in 2003. She worked as a budget analyst in Mayor Gavin Newsom's Budget Office, eventually becoming deputy director. In 2007 she was appointed to replace Ed Jew as Supervisor of District 4. She ran and won election to that office on her own in 2008 and again in 2010.

She spoke about what her office does and what improvements have been implemented since she took office. The assessor determines the value of commercial and residential properties. While doing so, it generates a huge amount of revenue for the city - ~40% of the city's revenue originates from these taxes.

Supervisor Scott Wiener spoke to us about the many pieces of legislation that he's been sponsoring, and some of the happenings in District 8.

  • The Recycling Center next to Safeway on Market St is being evicted this coming week.

  • Legislation to legalize additional "in-law" units in District 8. Property owners would be able to add a single unit if the building has 10 units or fewer; 2 additional units if there are more than 10. This would hopefully add many more-affordable rental options.

  • He's been trying to increase funding for MUNI. An additional 50 new buses will be added to the fleet shortly.

  • Castro St. sidewalk widening project is set to begin right after New Years, and end before the Castro Street Fair in Oct. They will start work in the 400 block first.

And many others. He spoke with us for at least 1/2 hour - lots of questions and answers.

AT&T BOXES: In 2011 I asked Marc Blakeman, the representative from ATT, what would happen if a neighborhood opposed having ATT's giant utilty boxes on its sidewalks, and he answered - in person and in at least 2 emails, that the neighborhood would not get them. At the Board of Supervisors hearing that same year, Supervisor Wiener asked him the same question and received the same answer. When, earlier this year, I began receiving notices for permit applications by ATT for boxes in Corbett Heights, I questioned Mr. Blakeman about them and included a copy of one of the emails he had sent in 2011. His response was, effectively - "that was then".

Supervisor Wiener, despite having voted in 2011 to allow ATT to install its boxes without requiring an environmental review, was equally annoyed at ATT's disingenuineness. After corresponding with the Supervisor's office for a few months about what to do, I wrote what became the first version of a survey question that would be sent out to our whole neighborhood. This survey would ask everyone in our neighborhood (those whose contact info we have) whether they favored or opposed having the boxes on our sidewalks - knowing that without them we would most likely not be able to subscribe to the U-verse service.

The wording for the survey was altered several times, but I, Supervisor Wiener and ATT finally agreed on the wording. I sent it out to the 300 or so people on the CHN email list, and ATT sent it out to everyone on its list. Responses went to Supervisor Wiener's office. Only one vote per household was counted, and acceptable responses needed to come from people who lived within the boundaries of CHN.

There were over 330 accepted responses. 85% opposed to the boxes; 11% in favor.

There is now a moratorium on any boxes within our boundaries. I should hear soon how long the moratorium will last - several years, I'm expecting. And, at the end of that time, if ATT is still proposing using this antiquated technology it should be run out of town.

Lynn Oakley discussed and showed slides on her new book about Twin Peaks - including quite a few photos of Corbett Heights. Beautifully written! Besides being available on Amazon, it can be ordered directly from the publisher - highly recommended.

San Francisco's Twin Peaks

by Lynn Oakley

Images of America Series

128 pages/ softcover

History Project: The Corbett Heights historical context statement (History Project) is just about complete! Having seen a draft of the almost complete product, I was really impressed with the detail and depth of information.

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 - let me know.

Corbett Slope: During the next week or two, DPW will be constructing a new concrete short wall with catchment fence along the exposed rock area on the Market Street side of the Slope. 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.

(The following is a repeat from July's notes):

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)

ELECTION DAY - Tuesday, November 5th:

City Attorney - Dennis Herrera- unopposed

Treasurer - Jose Cisneros - unopposed

Assessor-Recorder - Carmen Chu - unopposed

(District 4 - Katy Tang) - virtually unopposed

Prop A: Retiree Health Care Trust Fund:

Prop B: 8 Washington Initiative - Pro

Prop C: 8 Washington Referendum against ordinance passed by BoS.

(The existing height limit for the site is 84'. The proposal is to build 134 luxury condos on the site, exceeding the legally allowable height by 52'.)

Prop D: Prescription Drug Purchasing - allows City to negotiate with drug manufacturers for cheaper prescription drug prices

3198 Market: This inaccessible lot remains for sale. Project is still on the table. I should know in a week or two if it's moving ahead.

Collingwood Park: A group of us is working to turn the mostly fenced-off block - behind Mollie Stones and Eureka Valley Rec Center - into an actual park. It's currenly extremely underutilized. More on this later.

Market Street Projects:

376 Castro (RC Station): Project on hold pending resolution of dispute between owner of the lot and the project sponsor. The plan (approved for the most part by several neighborhood groups) was to build a 65' tall structure (72' at the corner). There would be 19 2-bedroom and 5 1-bedroom units, and parking for 14 cars. Completion was to be in 2016 after environmental cleanup.

CVS - 2280 Market St. (formerly Tower Records): Work has begun replacing the facade with something slightly less horrific. Elevators will be moved forward to property line, eliminating the awkward recess. CVS will occupy the entire ground floor except for the Radio Shack space. The Planning Dept. approved this project despite the ban in place along upper Market that prevents formula retail (chain stores) from exceeding 20% of frontage.

2175 Market (76 Station): 88 units. 100% rental. Total 18,500 sf. at ground floor. 1/2 parking space per unit. 3 ground floor retail spaces planned: 3100, 1500, and 2500-3000 square feet. Likely coffee shop or restaurant. 65' height along Market. Entrance next to Walgreens.

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

2001 Market St (Whole Foods): 85' tall, 82 units. Half will be 2-bedroom, half 3-bedroom. Opens next week.

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.

2198 Market (Shell Station/Xmas tree lot): The property has been leased for 99 years from the owners of the former gas station. the intent is 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.)

Architect is Heller-Manus. Property manager would be Greystar (they manage 700 properties, with a total of over 200,000 units). Some issues have arisen with this project. First of all, the design is less than magnificent. It looks like something that could be south of Market, or Toledo. Besides the fact that it shows little respect for the wonderful, historic Swedish-American Hall, they've opted for a "non-inclusionary" housing policy. This means that they plan on putting the required affordable housing allotment offsite.

The other problem with the company is that, whereas they abide by San Francisco's required non-discrimination policy, they only do this where it's required. They do not have a policy that ensures non-discrimination of LGBT or other minority citizens in its home state of North Carolina or other states that do not require one.

More to come on this very important project!

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